Team building is widely recognized as an important factor in the effectiveness of successful corporations. While there are numerous ways that managers can incorporate team-building principles into the daily work life of employees, it's also valuable for employees to take time away from the company building to spend time together and learn to work as a team. A company beach trip can be both a vacation and an opportunity for employees and managers to learn to better work together.
Many traditional team-building activities, frequently used at camps and challenge courses, can be adopted for use at the beach. Many of them require few if any props. They work best when led by a professional facilitator, but you can lead many of them yourself. The purpose of these activities is for the group to work together to solve a game or a problem. If you lead these activities yourself, it's important that you try to notice how the group dynamics work and help the group break out of old patterns if they aren't working well. These activities can be an opportunity for the employee who's usually quiet to speak up and take leadership, or for the employee who always has ideas to step back and listen to others. It's important that you end each activity with a debrief in which you discuss how the activity went as well as how the group can apply what they learned to their projects at the office.
One example of a team-building activity that could easily be done at the beach is Helium Hoop, in which everyone in the group holds a hula hoop by placing their two index fingers under the hoop. The group then tries to lower the hoop to the ground without anyone ever losing contact with the hoop. It's a deceptively simply game that is actually much harder than it seems to be; it requires a great deal of concentration, communication and working in unison. Another example is Survival Scenario, in which the group imagines they have been shipwrecked and makes a list of 10 items they will bring to the desert island. This is a valuable exercise in decision-making and consensus; unlike corporate decisions, which are usually decided by hierarchy, this activity forces everyone in the group to share an opinion and come to agreement.
Traditional beach activities can also be valuable team-building activities. Simple games of volleyball allow team members to spend time together, enjoy each other and have fun. Sand sculptures are a surprisingly powerful way for team members to work together. Scavenger hunts or treasure hunts, while they require some organization ahead of time, allow employees to relax and enjoy being together, which leads to better teamwork in the workplace.
If your company has several work groups on separate teams, then competitions among work groups are a good way for each team to bond together and feel proud of their accomplishments. Relay races, team chants and beach soccer can create team spirit within smaller groups. If you set up competitions, it's good to include different types of activities so that the most athletic group doesn't win all of them. Including mental puzzles or logic games as well as athletic challenges will make the playing field more even and ensure that all of your teams have a good time at the beach.