As we race to the finish line of the COVID-19 pandemic (and hopefully all coronaviruses in the future), we’re all more than ready to put the events of 2020 behind us.
Yet, we’re not totally Scot-free yet (sorry, Scott), and in-person team building activities still need to adhere to some guidelines — just ensure everyone stays happy (and healthy) during the tail-end of COVID.
The safest in-person team-building activities create a safe space for vaccinated, non-vaccinated, and immune-compromised coworkers.
And at the end of the day, a team building event should be inclusive for everyone. So it’s best to gauge your group’s comfort levels ahead of time and choose an activity or games that don’t ask people to do something that feels too risky right now. There are plenty of fun interactive options that won’t put people in a potentially uncomfortable position, and your people will appreciate the fact that you care enough to ensure their safety!
What Makes a Team Building Activity ‘Safe’?
There’s no ‘one thing’ that makes a team-building event safe during the new normal. In fact, there isn’t much evidence to show that the country rapidly opening up, tossing mask mandates, and getting together with friends and family isn’t safe (for those who are vaccinated).
Yet, understandably not everyone feels so comfy-cozy getting that close with their co-workers just yet.
And even though it sometimes feels as though we’ve been thrust into this brave new world (just as fast as we were spun into a pandemic), we can still do our part to ensure our colleagues feel safe when we get together.
Socially Distanced Activities
Team-building activities should still be somewhat socially distanced because team members are generally not living together in the same household.
Even though large event spaces like Disneyland have dropped their mask and social-distancing guidelines, most visitors to major theme parks are only in close contact with others who live in their households.
This isn’t the case for workplace colleagues. Not only do your employees not live together, but they also don’t live in the same household as our event facilitators, either (which is a really good thing since we leave our game supplies lying around the house all the time!).
We find that most employees simply feel more comfortable with others in the Great Outdoors. We don’t yet know when our immune-compromised friends will be eligible for the vaccine, and we also don’t know when our younger kids will be eligible.
While health authorities maintain that the COVID-19 vaccines are effective at stopping the spread between the vaccinated and non-vaccinated, we understand that not everyone may feel comfortable getting up-close and personal with colleagues that may or may not be vaccinated (for whatever reason).
Even during some of the most intense coronavirus spikes in 2020, most of us felt safer meeting with friends and family outdoors (thanks to the mitigated risk factors of gathering in fresh, circulating air). It makes sense that as we transition to our ‘new normal’ that we still feel most comfortable gathering this way.
Activities in Large Indoor Rooms
If your group feels comfortable gathering inside, you may want to do so in a larger space.
After last year, most of us still aren’t used to congregating in small spaces; we haven’t done it in a while, and it just doesn’t feel comfortable for many people yet! Even some larger museums have continued to keep exhibits in small rooms temporarily closed (we’re lookin’ at you, Smithsonian!).
This is why we recommend hosting events in larger indoor spaces (such as hotel ballrooms and auditoriums) for now.
Team Building Event Best Practices
- Stay six to three feet apart from your coworkers
- Wear a mask if you haven’t been vaccinated
- Clearly communicate your post-pandemic boundaries with your team
- Opt for outdoor events when possible
- Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer
- No high-fives, hugs, or piggyback, please
- Respect the rules and decisions set forth by the activity coordinator
Team Building Event Safety FAQs
Why are we still social distancing? Aren’t we all vaccinated?
Sort of. Not everyone can get vaccinated yet, and some people simply choose not to get vaccinated. When it comes to people who live in the same household (or participate in group hangs outside of work), we generally know who’s vaccinated and who isn’t.
To keep everyone safe and feelin’ groovy about bonding activities, we err on the side of caution.
What if someone on my team isn’t vaccinated?
The CDC recommends non-vaccinated people continue to follow COVID-19 pandemic guidelines. This means wearing a mask indoors, staying six feet from people outside of their households, and continuing to use good hygiene protocols.
If someone on your team hasn’t been vaccinated, we also ask that person to wear a mask outside, too.
Whose job is it to enforce the rules?
Ultimately, it falls on the company (or a leader within the company) to enforce the rules.
If our activity leaders witness unsafe behavior, they’ll ask you to address the situation. If someone on your team is uncomfortable, we ask that you address the situation to ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to enjoy the activity.
Safest In-Person Team Building Activities
- Outdoor scavenger hunts
- Social-distanced games
- Game shows
- Outdoor escapes
- Indoor events in large rooms
Outdoor Scavenger Hunts
Outdoor scavenger hunts are perfect team-building activities for the new normal. We don’t need to break the mold (or even change up the format) to keep outdoor scavenger hunts totally safe — and keep employees and event leads feeling safe.
Social Distanced Games
Games that don’t require people to touch one another or spend too much time being too close to one another are ideal for the tail-end of the pandemic.
Game shows are naturally socially distanced (If Alex Trebek didn’t need to wander out from behind that podium, neither do we).
Game Shows are an ideal activity for safe team-building activities.
Outdoor Room Escapes
- We know you can’t escape from the outdoors (though, the cast of Deliverance might have something to say about that!). But we can bring all the fun of indoor escape rooms outside. You still get all the fun of cracking codes and solving puzzles — you’ll just get to enjoy all that fun under the sun.
Indoor Events in Large Rooms
If you do want to host an indoor event, we just recommend doing so in a large event space so people will feel more comfortable.