Forging more authentic and dynamic working relationships within the office can often be overlooked in the early stages of a growing company. But investing in your team early on can pay dividends down the road. Creating opportunities for co-workers to connect and learn about each other outside of the office environment can translate into improved collaboration, communication and productivity when they get back to work.
For early startups, the idea of spending on seemingly frivolous extra-curricular activities and getting a ‘team morale budget’ approved by your board may feel daunting. So speak to your investors in their terms, “what’s the ROI going to be? How can this improve productivity or drive new innovation?” Whether you survey your team on what they believe they could collectively be doing better or it’s a mandate you’ve been handed from above, plan your next team outing with a goal in mind so it feels worthwhile and valuable for everyone. Here’s some fun ideas for building a stronger team without breaking the bank.
TEST FOCUS AND ACCURACY WITH AXE THROWING AT URBAN AXES
Urban Axes Austin has been keeping people sharp since 2016. With their slogan of “bringing people together, one bullseye at a time,” this is the perfect place to bring your team for bonding time guaranteed to bring out a bit of people’s competitive side. Don’t say we didn’t warn you–those bullseye are harder to hit than they seem. And who does the best may surprise you since it’s more about technique and form than sheer strength. And since Urban Axes is BYOB, you won’t be footing the bill for overpriced margs and day-old queso. Make it fun, have everyone bring their favorite beverage to share and allow people to let their personalities and accuracy skills shine.
PRACTICE CRITICAL-THINKING & COMMUNICATION AT THE ESCAPE ROOM
A bit more structured than the other experiences, this is an hour long adventure that will teach you a lot about your team in such a short amount of time.
“You’ll be surprised by who steps up to take charge, who orchestrates the master plan and who spots the minute detail that leads to the big “aha” moment!” is what the Escape Room boasts on their website. We’ve heard only good things about this dive into unknown problems and riddles to solve. For about $20-30/person, this can be a challenging and unique way to help build stronger communication skills across different personality types.
CONQUER STAGE-FRIGHT & BUILD TRUST WITH TEAM PROV
If you have sales consultants or brand representatives that do a lot of pitching or presentation, this might be a great route to go. TeamProv is like an acting class but more oriented towards professional skill-building and team-bonding. It may feel a bit awkward at first, but it’s been proven to help strengthen presenting skills and produce a few much needed laughs. They can accommodate larger groups and really focus on those “…vital, soft business skills that they don’t teach in an MBA program… yet should: focus, trust, proactive listening, making each other look good, being present, and living in the moment.”
ENCOURAGE CREATIVITY AND IMAGINATION AT UPSTAIRS CIRCUS
Crafting can be a great way to get out from behind the computer and it’s not just reserved for the naturally talented Martha Stewarts of the world. Low key–John Lennon was known for sewing his own costumes on tour and David Beckham has been known to swap the soccer ball for a yarn ball from time to time. At Upstairs Circus you can get your team working together to create something totally unique and personal for the office to help show off their team’s collective personalities. At $25-40 per person, it’s a little on the pricier side, but walking away with a custom souvenir to display proudly in the bullpen will be well-worth it.
IMPROVE DEXTERITY AND MENTAL ACUITY AT SPIN PING PONG BAR
At SPiN, their core value is connecting people through ping pong– transcending age, gender and boundaries. The game of ping pong dates back to late 1800’s and has become a staple not only in the break-room but bars, restaurants, parks and other gathering places. And it’s easy to understand why, ping pong is just fun. Beyond being a fun, it actually has been scientifically proven to improve brain function, “Dr Daniel Amen, calls table tennis “the world’s best brain sport” because it is highly aerobic, uses both the upper and lower body, and is great for eye hand coordination and reflexes. Table tennis also utilizes many different areas of the brain simultaneously as you are tracking the ball, planning shots and strategies, and figuring out spins.” At only $8 per person, this spot is a great place to gather the gang and build those brains…doctors orders.
STRENGTHEN THOSE MUSCLES AND ENTHUSIASM AT AUSTIN BOULDERING PROJECT
Exercise and physical activity is a known mood enhancer and no better way to keep your team’s spirits high that a bit of indoor climbing. When the temps start to reach triple digits in the ATX, seek refuge and test your team’s physical and mental strength (and maybe their fear of heights) at the Austin Bouldering Project. It’s only $18/person for a day pass and instructors are there to help beginners learn the ropes and get climbing. Watch your team come together to support and cheer each other on or get a little competitive in a race to the top. Whether you’re team is full of daredevils or play-it-safers, or a mix of both–ABP offers a fun, energetic way to keep your team moving up.
ENCOURAGE ALTRUISM AND PRIDE WITH A TRASH-WALK AROUND TOWN LAKE
We live in the most best, most exciting city in the country. (even Forbes thinks so) But unfortunately, trash and litter seem to be ever-present around our stunning Lady Bird Lake. A trash pick-up walk is super easy to organize and costs absolutely nothing. Just grab some plastic gloves, trash bags and get cruising down that awesome trail. Check out The Trail Foundation has done a fantastic job of preserving the trail and often has group volunteer opportunities if you’re looking to organize something more official. Reward your team post-walk with some breakfast tacos and coffee if it’s before work, or a cold beer if you opt for a happy hour session.