Before the snow begins to blanket parts of the world with crystal white, many of us are ready to see the change after months of heat. We welcome the brisk cool air of Autumn and the slow, seasonal shift so we can enjoy cozy fires in the fireplace, our favorite blankets, and a nice cup of something warm to drink.
At work, however, these sentiments might be quite a bit different and produce many different results, individually. According to experts, there are five specific effects of winter weather on today’s workers:
- Some become more productive.
- Some become less productive.
- Negative moods are increased.
- We become more empathetic.
- We become more (and less) creative.
If these sound like great components to team-building exercises, you’d be right. Imagine taking the hum-drum out of office life and injecting it with fun outdoor activities that involve everyone.
Research has shown that team-building exercises are associated with improving six important aspects of having a productive team:
- Trust and respect
- Reward and Recognition
- Customer Focus
- Decision Making
But creating team-building exercises in the winter can be tricky. Here are some ideas to help you think “outside” the box and get your teams’ blood pumping with fun, excitement, and camaraderie.
Five Winter Outdoor Activities For Teams
Hiking is not just for hard-core athletes. In fact, a leisurely walk through a local park can be just as effective for warding off the winter blues and increasing communication among coworkers, and there are plenty of team-building activities for the hiking trail. Experts say that aside from the obvious physical and mental benefits, hiking with a group increases relational health.
The National Caves Association has dozens of choices across the country available for exciting cave exploration, so no matter where your office is located, there’s likely a viable option for you and your crew.
One benefit of caving is that – in most cases – almost anyone can do it, regardless of age or physical status. Beneath the earth’s surface, in the cavernous holes of exploration, coworkers can explore together, sharing what they find and traversing together as a group. At the end of the day, there is more to talk about than just operations and budget; a shared experience like caving provides for a more enlivened conversation about a day exploring.
One great thing about camping is the lack of technology. Laptops and computer screens are replaced by campfires; face-to-face interactions trump telephone conversations; food trucks and cafeterias are miles away. It’s just colleagues and nature which opens the doors to getting to know one another on a different level.
Your team might be surprised to discover that “brainy” Pete is excellent at keeping a campfire going, and shy Laura knows an awful lot about wild leaves and berries that can be eaten! A couple of added benefits of winter camping?
- You won’t have so many issues with insects and critters.
- You don’t need to stay stocked up on ice to keep the drinks cold.
Whether you want to rough it with tents and fires or schedule a weekend retreat at a resort, camping is a great way to get the blood flowing for your teams.
This is an excellent alternative to hiking for those who are not as mobile or even for those who are. Seeing white, snowy landscapes while atop a steady mount, while not having to plod in the cold, wet ground makes it a spectacular experience for adventurers.
Additionally, while horseback riding might seem leisurely, it actually involves using most of the body’s muscles so it can be quite a workout. Experts report that riding a horse can equal the equivalent of dancing, running, or even rock-climbing.
River rafting is an awesome experience any time of year, but during the winter, it’s a special kind of experience. Groups may get wet while rafting but then recover with a nice hot bowl of soup and drinks to warm the belly while they recount miles of wild splashing and thrashing about.
While rafting is an energetic, fun-filled activity, it also includes the need for strong teamwork and communication. It’s hard to focus on issues at work or home when you’re busy riding rapids with your coworkers!
Dressing For Outdoor Team Activities in The Winter
You may be nervous about incorporating winter outdoor activities into your team-building efforts because you’re not sure everyone will have everything they need to participate. This is a valid concern so it’ss important you and your employees are prepared with the right gear and clothing.
While there are certain risks associated with outdoor winter activities, these can be mitigated with the proper dress and equipment. Outdoor activities are best done with layers.
A base layer is the first layer of clothing worn during cold weather activities. Ideally, your base layer will be moisture-wicking to draw sweat away from the body. Try to avoid using cotton which tends to absorb moisture. Wear layers made of polyester or merino wool combinations that are ultra-wicking and help keep you warm and dry.
Naturally, the middle later will depend on the weather. If you’re participating in physical activity in milder winter weather, your middle layer can actually become your outer one. In the case of extremely cold or wet weather, your middle layer can include a warm, waterproof jacket that insulates your body from moisture, wind, and precipitation.
A great jacket for middle layers is one that is both warm and lightweight, preferably designed specifically for activewear.
The outermost layer of clothes fits over all other layers comfortably and provides an added layer of protection against extreme weather and moisture.
Aside from having the right attire, make sure team members have important accessories such as the right kinds of bags, hats, gloves, sunscreen (the UV rays of the sun are magnified when reflected off of icy/snowy landscapes), sunglasses, and water bottles to ensure they have a fun and safe outdoor excursion.
When it comes to having a cohesive company culture, choosing to have outdoor activities doesn’t have to be exclusively indoors. The wintertime is a great time to get the office outside for some excitement, fun, and memories that will keep office productivity soaring!
Featured image – Team hiking in Tongariro Alpine Crossing, New Zealand. Photo by Emily Woolerton.