‘Team building’ tends to be used as a catch-all term for a variety of corporate events from fun days away to team development and training, which can be a bit confusing. And with so many companies claiming to be able to accommodate anything required – it’s easy to find the wrong solution.

This post is a guide for anybody thinking about organising team building events for their organisation with tips and ideas to help you organise effective events.

1. What problems are you trying to solve?
Team building events are usually instigated for a reason and this should never be forgotten about during the planning process.  If you’ve been asked to organise a team building event but don’t know why, find out before investigating event ideas.  When getting proposals, ask your event organiser to make it clear how the ideas achieve your objectives, if not obvious.

A day out alone isn’t going to solve major issues within an organisation, but the right event, tailored to specific issues and part of a larger programme will help. However the event organiser won’t be a mind reader and the likelihood is that they will be planning several other events that day, so the more information you give, the more relevant and better the proposed ideas will be.

2. Who should organise our event?
This depends on how much or little you want to be involved in the organisation; whether you hand the project over to an event company or select, coordinate and manage the suppliers and venue yourself. A Google search (try and be specific as possible) will suggest a variety of event companies and services, such as event agencies, activity specialists, venues, venue finders and activity centres.

Tip: Most venues offer event companies a commission for placing the business their way. So if you don’t already have a venue in mind, I would recommend passing the venue sourcing over to an event company (if you require an activity as well) or a venue finding agency (for just a venue).  This will save you time and will cost you the same amount as finding the venue yourself and dealing with them directly. The venue that takes the hit – not you.

3. Budgeting
Be realistic when planning a budget, because team building events are not cheap.

You will be paying for the planning the event, coordination of several suppliers, full event management, all activities, kit and equipment, event staff, transportation, insurance, venue hire, catering and refreshments, accommodation (if required) and you should also consider the cost of employees spending time away from the office.  This all adds up, therefore understanding the reasons for the event are crucial.

A half day event will start from £100 + VAT per head and a full day from around £150 + VAT. This is only a rough idea of costs as the amounts vary depending on the type of event, standard of the venue and the amount of guests.

When it comes to budget, something I have noticed is that people tend to have a habit of not telling their event organiser how much money they have to spend. There seems to be this idea that by not committing to an amount, means that they are going to get a better deal. Sure, there are going to be a few companies out there that rip people off. But if you pick a reputable company to organise the event, I recommend being honest about your budget so that they propose five ideas that are relevant to you, rather than five random ideas that tick different boxes, where only two are actually suitable. If you’re worried about being overcharged then call a couple of companies to compare ideas, inclusions and costs, but only do this with two or three companies in detail, rather than speaking to ten companies briefly.

4. Date
Venue prices fluctuate depending on popularity, by being specific with dates you are going to get accurate costs, plus you’ll be taken more seriously.

5. Participants
Before contacting an event company, work out how many participates there are going to be and have a think about average ages, abilities of the group, interests and job roles – this will help you and your event organiser pick a suitable event.

During the planning stages if you are concerned about guests dropping out. Check that the venue/event company can accommodate for the maximum, but book for a few less and add the extra people on later, if needed. This way you won’t lose deposits or have to pay for guests that can’t go. Although if booking accommodation you may just have to be brave and book for everybody.

Examples of team building events:
Pointless discussion circles, embarrassing trust falls and listening to ‘We Are The Champions’ are not team building events and if this is what a company offers you I would suggest ignoring them.

Here are some examples of some real team building events:

Cold Case
Teams have three hours re-investigate an unsolved murder case. This is run by a former Scotland Yard Detective Chief Inspector, Forensic Scientists and Police Officers where participants use real tools and techniques used by the police force to examine the case and find the truth, such as hair and fibre analysis, blood identification and DNA profiling, analysing police statements and case notes, advanced fingerprint dusting and ageing photos.

The Apprentices
Just like the television show, teams will compete in a variety of business challenges, but without the humiliation of being on TV.

The event is completely adaptable where the format can be tailored to practise specific business skills, for example pitch and presenting, sales, strategy, problem solving, product developments, planning marketing campaigns and negotiation.  It’s also a great opportunity to learn from colleagues who you don’t usually work with.

Communicate a message with impact by creating a large art attack using people, which is photographed from a helicopter flying above.

This event offers participants the huge task of coming up with a strategy to coordinate everybody to create the desired shape (e.g. logo, company or product name). After the event the photos can be used by the organisation in several ways, e.g. makes great talking points hung up on a large canvas in reception areas, used in marketing materials e.g. to launch a new product, and looks great on websites under the ‘about us’ section.

Break A World Record
Prove that your people are the world’s best by collaborating and attempt to break a bespoke World Record.

All of these examples of team building events are organised by Chillisauce events.


Michael Chidzey is the chief juicer of eventjuice and runs Event Organiser, an event company based in London, UK. He also founded the digital marketing agency Good Signals, blogs on several websites and is a visiting lecturer in events management at London Metropolitan University.Follow Michael on Twitter @michaelchidzey
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