Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Team-building Activities - with Social Relevance

A school visit in Smokey Mountain village in Manila where volunteers participated in an interaction program, feeding and donation.

I recall sending my office's HR a recommendation letter more than 5 years ago - suggesting a re-format or remodel of the usual team-building activities in our company.  You see, after working for quite some time, I had enough of those team sports, and worse - useless entertainment-presentations!

I don't know why Filipinos in particular are so much into presentations be it dancing, singing, theatrics and what not!  It may probably help in team bonding, but I just thought that time spent on activities should be both effective and more meaningful.

The gist (of the reco) was that - instead of doing 'the usual stuff', we dedicate our time, effort and limited budget to something more relevant - either related to environment or community.

Past forward to couple of years back - I am glad that I'm actually seeing changes (nothing to do with my forgotten note) and actually witnessed more socially-focused activities within my own team.
It's probably due to better awareness, or perhaps the pile of work on the 'need area' was just so much that it became evident that we should do something - small or otherwise.

For those in charge of planning or conceptualizing their next team-building or offsite activities, here are some photos / ideas to help you get started. There are obviously so much more ideas out there, it's more a matter of will and desire.


This same trip (Smokey Mountain) was integrated with 'Dream in a Shoebox' Christmas campaign initiated by IT/BPO Association in the Philippines.  Each box was assembled/wrapped in the office - contains basic school supplies.  also donated books for the kids.
Habitat for Humanity may be tapped for special team session either to build or paint houses; or be involved in knowledge programs as lecturer.  This is mostly a dedicated trip and difficult to combine with 'business sessions' typical of offsite or team-building activities (unless a nearby venue is available).
I'm proud that this table-chair from scrap pallets effort was a success.  I was personally tasked to make this happen for my organization's offsite activity.  This one's in Villa Escudero, we transported the raw materials and things - then donated the finished products to a local school. 

Another session - pallet-to-chair painting activity in Cabuyao.  Scrap pallets are available everywhere and with the huge volume - it's wise to convert this to something useful.  Good for the planet, and benefits schools or communities.  A good add in this particular session was the involvement of family members. 

A visit in an Aeta village in Floridablanca Pampanga.  This one's a special trip but a good option for 1-activity only team-building.  Indigenous communities around the world are mostly marginalized and need a little help now and then.  Although this visit was one-off (for us) and limited to feeding, donation and social interaction - collective and cumulative visits from different groups add up to more substantial help.  A better option is to find an offsite venue near a target village so business sessions or other activities can be included. (2 photos c/o Toto Garcia).

A quick trip near an offsite venue to plant tree seedlings could be a very meaningful activity.  Tree-planting is often overlooked or downgraded in terms of importance - but one of the direct ways to fight climate change.
A simple awareness trip may also be a good add if near or around an offsite venue.  This pic is in Morong Bataan, and visitors learn about sea turtles particularly Olive Ridley, and how to help with the conservation. 

Boat building to be donated to communities who experience frequent flooding.  This model is called 'Bahangka' (Baha means flood, bangka means boat) designed by (who can also be tapped to supervise boat-building).  One unit (in this picture) costs around 7000php in material cost - and was built for Rescue purposes.  Unlike house-building activity, building boats (or chairs/tables) is more flexible in terms of activity location.   (Top pic was done in the farm, the 2nd was in UP Campus, and 3rd pic was an actual  use for a Regatta event in Taal lake).

More than the activity itself (this is a tree-nurturing trip in Ipo watershed), participants get the chance to experience real outdoors!
The simplest activity is to assemble or create donation packs or boxes either for school kids or specific communities, or for post-disaster relief work.  My team last year did this exact thing, then donated boxed-and-wrapped school supplies to schools in Laguna.

There's so much more and in fact, most resorts or offsite venues already have an idea or 2 on how to go about adding social relevance to a team-building event.
Or, you can always go back to that 'old model' where teams or sub-groups practice nightly for their singing/dancing/theater performance for the big team-building event.  Fun - yes, socially meaningful or helpful -  maybe not.


Amela Jones said...

Do you subscribe to any other websites about this? I'm struggling to find other reputable sources like yourself

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Romi Garduce said...

so far i do not (as i dont do this full time), i merely compiled experiences from my various engagement and projects ;)