Craig Bulow Founder of Corporate Away Days

Craig Bulow, founder of Corporate Away Days.

Whether you're transitioning cautiously back to a physical workspace or you're continuing with remote operations, we know you'll want to do what you can to keep your team happy and productive. As with most things at the moment, you might need to do things a little differently. Craig Bulow, founder of Corporate Away Days, shares his ideas for remote events so that you can focus on organising something fun for your team.

Who imagined that lockdown would be such a long process? Despite all that has happened I’m sure your team has achieved amazing things! The practical and emotional adjustments for working from home, juggling home-working and home-schooling, facilitating online meetings and keeping everyone connected when they are remote all seems rather old hat now!

Many businesses are now in a hybrid situation. Non-essential workers are gradually returning to work, with social distancing provisions in place and others are still working from home.

After the last few months, your team could almost certainly do with an injection of fun, as you would have done before lockdown, to thank them for their hard work and dedication. However, although they deserve a summer party or team away day, that isn’t likely to happen any time soon. With social distancing, people who are still self-isolating or cautious about going out too much – an in-person event is probably not on the cards.

If you want to acknowledge your team and boost wellbeing and morale, here are some fun options for events you usually do in person and can arrange to do remotely:

Going into nature

Most schools have a field trip in the summer, so why not your business? Firstly, make sure that work-supplied phones have plenty of data and encourage others to top up their data and ensure you pay for it for them, if needed. Then set a date and time for their trip.

Your team can go to their local woods, nature trail, country park, river, park or beach. Keep the team connected on their phones, coverage allowing, and they can go for a walk and share their experiences live. They can discuss and show what they see, the types of birds and plant life. They could even show a flower, shrub or tree to the team they haven’t seen before and see if anyone knows what it is.

As well as sharing how many fish have been caught by the anglers, the wildlife and the weather, they can talk about what the space means to them: did they grow up nearby, have a picnic with their other half when they were first dating, do they bring their kids or walk their dog here? A couple of hours where your team members can share their experiences can encourage better connections with nature - which is obviously beneficial for mental health - and work friends, but not talking about work.

Working out

While some gyms have opened for outside classes and others are putting in measures to reopen safely, this is another activity team members can get together to do remotely. Perhaps you could find an activity you think most of the group will enjoy, such as yoga, body balance or a HiiT workout and hire an appropriate instructor to take the team from the basics and progress them on, perhaps weekly, until they can all see an improvement. Alternatively, if you have fitness bunnies on your staff maybe they can share their expertise, perhaps taking it in turns to share their tips on stretches, sit-ups, planks and so on. If a plan can be designed for those looking for that extra push to do exercise, this will be much easier when collectively engaged.

Getting arty

Comedy could be a great team activity. Perhaps you could all vote on a classic comedy sketch, a live stand-up performance or an episode of a series. Share it with the group and watch together or separately and then chat online to discuss the best bits.

If a gym workshop is not the thing, many celebrities have made dance classes available over lockdown and they are ones that we can all get involved in. Why not set up a team dance. Perhaps you could all learn a routine to do together when you are finally reunited. The exercise will boost endorphins and could cause lots of laughter. Perhaps it could start a new hobby for some people. If you’re stuck for dance teachers, get in touch, we have some great teachers available who can bring their own music, routines and fun.

Music is also a great way to de-stress and connect with others. Perhaps start a remote choir where you can all sing the same song together. It doesn’t matter if you’re not the next Taylor Swift or Shawn Mendes, singing also makes you feel good and relieves stress. Perhaps there are a few musicians in your company? A Zoom session to show and share their talents with others is another great way to build connections and talk about something other than work. Or just get each team member to share their all-time favourite track or the one song that always cheers them up. Whatever you choose, music is powerful.

Wine tasting online

If all that talk of activity is making you thirsty, why not try some remote wine tasting. Get the team to buy a bottle or two of the same wine and chat online about what they think of it. When that’s over, some small talk as you might have at an in-person event, is bound to lead to some giggles, especially if they “forget to spit the wine out”! And it means partners and housemates can also join in the fun. Corporate Away Days is partnered with a well-established wine event organiser who can bring selections of wines to your door with optional extras like cheese to accompany. They even have a fun quiz to take part in alongside the tasting – and all of it can be done remotely with no need to get together in-person. 

A shared cooking experience

For those who are more into food than drink, online cooking can also be tremendous fun. Much like the dancing, there are plenty of celebrities offering excellent classes, information and recipes for you to try at home. Getting the team together on Zoom or Facetime to cook a chosen dish, bake a cake or create their own whilst judging the end result on presentation - knowing that they all taste delicious – creates a MasterChef show that has never been easier to win. If you need some help or inspiration, we offer cooking classes with all the ingredients delivered to your door and a master cook from an award-winning cookery school taking you through each step on Zoom.

Using your games consoles

I’m sure a lot of parents will tell you that their 'tween'- and teenagers have kept in touch playing games online. But gaming is not just for kids! In today’s world, most homes will have a games console of some description, either in the back of a cupboard or in the loft, if not under the telly. Whether it’s the latest Xbox, PlayStation or even more interactive Nintendo Wii, now is the perfect time to dust it off and select some competitive games or sports to offer up some healthy competition within your team. The latest models allow us to play interactively with each other. Is it F1, tennis, football, Minecraft, chess, Scrabble? The list goes on and a league leader board can even be set up to motivate those joining in the fun.

Golfing and cycling

Of course, not all activities have to be remote. As the lockdown restrictions continue to be eased, there are options for us to get together in smaller groups. Now is a great time to build teams that logistically can meet with bikes or a set of clubs and enjoy timeless banter and exercise either on the golf course or checking out cycle routes close to homes. As long as social distancing is maintained, this is a great way to improve skills and fitness levels until bigger teams can enjoy an organised company away day.

Of course, your team members will have their individual preferences. If one isn’t a sporty type, for example, encourage them to join in a way that feels comfortable or simply pick another option. Try out different activities and see which get the best feedback.

Activities of this kind are fun and will be good for each person, for the team and the business overall. 

Craig Bulow is the founder of Corporate Away Days, a corporate wellbeing events company delivering engaging, inspiring and exciting events focused on wellbeing and reward activities. Corporate Away Days also creates, designs and builds corporate wellbeing policies and provides leading experts for interactive workshops, seminars and talks on improving mental health and overall wellbeing.

Contributed by Craig Bulow
Neina Sheldon
Article by Neina Sheldon
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