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OPINION: Ditching happy hour for outdoor team adventures

Historically, drinking alcohol has become synonymous with workplace events, and whilst this is an additional benefit for some, it’s important to understand the role that alcohol-free team building events have on inclusivity in the workplace.

For some employees, this can present a social pressure to fit in and be ‘part of the team’, so alternative events must be considered. Anna Humphries, Product Development Manager at Bear Grylls Survival Academy believes outdoor team building activities are an effective solution for bringing your team together without the aid of alcohol…

Inclusive participation

A study from Drink Aware found that people working in the private sector are 86% more likely to say there is an expectation to drink alcohol at employer events than the public sector. But not everyone drinks alcohol, and alcohol-centric events can exclude those who choose not to drink, whether that be for health reasons, religious beliefs or personal preference. And whilst alcohol can sometimes act as a social aid, it doesn’t guarantee genuine connections. Outdoor team building events help to foster authentic interactions whilst allowing everyone to participate, regardless of their personal preferences.

Breaking down barriers

Participating in outdoor activities can provide a neutral ground where employees can interact with one another without the social pressure associated with alcohol, providing common ground for employees of different seniorities. For example, a more junior member of staff could be instructing and leading a director in a navigation challenge, resulting in a new dynamic between the two that would never have been there in the office environment.

Shared experiences

Outdoor challenges create shared memories and bonding opportunities for employees, particularly for those who might not work together on a day-to-day basis. Whether it’s solving a problem during a scavenger hunt or working together to ‘survive’ in a stranded scenario, these experiences help to foster teamwork and camaraderie amongst a team.

Improved health and wellbeing

It has been proven time and time again that fresh air, physical activity and exposure to nature can significantly improve someone’s overall wellbeing – a far cry from the negative effects of drinking alcohol. Research from Public Health England found that 70% of people feel physically and mentally healthier when spending time in nature. Being outside and engaging with colleagues undoubtably helps to promote a healthier lifestyle and can reduce stress and improve productivity, benefiting both the individual employees and the business.