How to Build a Team For Better Productivity Outside Office

The new generation is spearheading change in the workforce and is not content with a picnic or an off-site retreat

learn more about Amitabh Behar

By Amitabh Behar


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As modern industry is increasingly becoming more reliant on human capital—ideas, innovation, creation—it is imperative to build teams that are socially conscious, respect diversity and value dissent among peers. Many corporates invest time and money on team building activities to motivate employees and increase their productivity. In doing so, however, they fail to break the employee-employer relationship. The new generation is spearheading change in the workforce and is not content with a picnic or an off-site retreat as a team-building activity.

Research has dubbed millennials across the world as the "giving generation". They believe in volunteering, charity and want to be part of a socially responsible business. Many studies further indicate that employees who have stayed with their companies for extended periods of time, frequently cite job satisfaction as a major reason for sticking around.

Giving back

One way to build job satisfaction among employees is for companies to give back to the communities and make sure their staff is a part of that experience.

Team building activities, which are aligned to a cause like climate change, gender justice, human rights or equality for all, can promote a collaborative, open and efficient work culture. It also exposes the staff to a world different than theirs—a world where women walk for hours to fetch water, where young girls are forced to leave school due to poverty, where people have lost their homes due to floods or where families have been paying health-related debts. This experience can help them value their work and also make them compassionate to their peers from diverse backgrounds.

Let creativity flow

The more engaged your employees are, the more they like what they do. It makes them more productive and creative. Corporates must not look at either employee-engagement or corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a PR and HR exercise. An honest reflection on the core values of the company can guide organizations to work towards a cause they believe in. What's more, organizations must empower their leadership to understand their core values and translate it into a purpose and vision which they have for the society.

The complexities of operating in diverse global societies also place new demands on organizations, and on their leadership structures. Global causes and team building events, therefore, can help the leadership build camaraderie, mutual understanding and trust among a diverse set of employees.

Open environment

Apart from sharing space within workplace, it is important for employees to engage with each other in an open environment which stimulates them physically and mentally. People can be happier at work (and in their personal lives) if they engage in some sort of physical exercise with their colleagues. Studies have shown that exercising before work can help prepare you for mentally stressful situations, better reactions to complex problems for the rest of the day, and increased retention of new information. Team sports activities can help employees stimulate their brains and develop multiple skills that can be applied to their work environments.

There are plenty of team building activities that involve being closer to nature and supporting a cause. Volunteering during disasters, team fundraising by walking for a cause, marathons or charity runs, hosting fundraising events, cleanliness drives, supporting civil society movements by donating skills like filmmaking, accounting, etc.

Go volunteering

Team bonding does not have to be all about the company itself. There are positive outcomes for both the employee and the company when it comes to volunteering as it is reaching out to the community. Volunteering for a cause many are passionate about often brings employees closer on a personal level.

The ideal team building exercise will also find a way to build trust within a team. Imagine your employees walking for a cause, together, for 100km for two days. They would share their pain, their meals, their time, and most of all their memories on the journey. There are many who have experienced this and have been overwhelmed by the support and trust shown by their teammates. They have stories to narrate about going beyond work relationships and coming together for a common passion.

Organizations must build these long-term relationships among their employees. These are hard to break and achieve more than specific business-oriented results.

Amitabh Behar

CEO of Oxfam India

Amitabh Behar is the CEO of Oxfam India. As Chief Executive officer, he spearheads the organizations vision to fight against inequality, poverty and injustice in the country, besides carrying forward its humanitarian work.

He has over 22 years of experience as a civil society leader. Amitabh is a former Executive Director of National Foundation for India. He got recognition for his work on governance accountability, social and economic equality, and citizen participation.

He is one of the leading experts of people-centric advocacy and chairs organizational boards of Amnesty International India, Navsarjan, and Yuva. He is the vice board chair of CIVICUS and also sits on the board of other Organisations like Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA), Mobile Crèche, VANI, Global Fund for Community Foundation (GFCF).

Amitabh holds an M. Phil in Political Science from Jawahar Lal Nehru University. He was also a research fellow at the University Grants Commission.

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