Why September is the perfect time for team building

By Jane Sparrow

Everyone reading will be familiar with the stories people were sharing in the early weeks of global lockdown – that in many ways, they felt more connected than ever before with their teams. We were all remote working, there was a global health pandemic happening and of course, as a result of this, we were all ‘leaning in’ on caring, communicating and ultimately, connection. Whether daily Zoom check in’s, Friday virtual quizzes or the raft of other practices we saw sweep the globe, connecting was top of the agenda.   

Fast forward to now. Most of us are still working remotely, there’s still a global pandemic happening but it seems that because we’re some way into ‘normalising’ to it, much of the ‘leaning in’ on connection has fallen by the wayside. With none of the usual working environment’s face to face connection opportunities, as well as real drop off in remote connection intention, the reality is that right now, our people are at risk of feeling more detached and isolated than ever.  Even the most well intentioned managers are finding it hard to keep the culture alive and replicate the coffee-queue conversations – and with 49% of people citing isolation as the biggest negative about working from home*.

The energy and connection deep dip 

We wrote about the remote working energy curve back in March where we looked at the points at which teams would be likely to face energy dips and motivation challenges. This energy curve remains critical, with investing in ourselves and our teams essential to keeping our energy high. We’re predicting that as people hit September, traditionally known as a time of renewed energy after the summer break, this year, owing to less holiday, extended time with the children and much of the workforce on furlough, people are at risk of hitting an all time low energy dip. This, combined with the significant loss of connection I mentioned earlier is a serious wellbeing concern.  

It looks fairly certain that schools will return in the UK in September – for how long we can’t be sure but the relief for parents will no doubt be palpable. With so much uncertainty around what the Autumn and Winter may bring and with such a need for both connection and motivation, September presents the perfect opportunity to bring your team together, virtually or otherwise, to take stock, co-create a forward plan and reconnect as human beings. For many teams, this will be new connections as well as reconnections, for those who have joined the team during the last few months! 

The perfect time for team building 

We’re not huge fans of the term ‘team building’, preferring team connection – which feels even more appropriate given our current context. Team connection interventions are on the rise right now and we’re working with a number of clients to make plans for  September ‘events’. For some, where it’s feasible, this is to happen face to face, in an outdoor setting complete with team reflections, challenges, culture gazing and catering. 

For others, where geography and/ or ongoing health concerns make face to face difficult, it’s virtual team connection interventions that are the order of the day. These can be just as effective in stimulating conversation, having fun and making memories by utilising available technology such as virtual breakouts, co-creation boards and a number of other virtual tricks we have up our sleeves. Many organisations are grappling with what is fast becoming a hybrid workforce with two lanes, if not three – those who are back in the office, those who are still at home and those who remain on furlough. However, team connection interventions can still work in this scenario with a variety of blended approaches.  

Set the date for your team connection today 

If there’s one thing we can be sure of, none of us can predict what’s around the corner on the COVID-19 highway – however, we can still make plans (an A and a B plan in the case of many of our clients) to ensure that we bring our teams together at the start of the end-year push.

If we are intentional about making some space to find out where our people are at, to listen to how they’re feeling and to understand what their current pressure points are, the human impact will be huge. If we carve out the time to learn more about one another, have fun doing something that isn’t about work tasks and critically, laugh together – the connection impact will be lasting. If we talk together, share experiences with one another and collaborate on what the next phase might look like, the motivation will take a distinctly upwards turn.   

For more information on how we’re working with clients on team connection interventions right now click here.

* Internal survey data from a FTSE 100 company