If planning your company outing seems more like a tiresome chore than a privilege, then it’s time to refocus your process with some fresh outing ideas.
Perfecting the art of the company outing will pay off for your company in the long run. Company outings provide more than just a day of fun; they also offer long-term benefits that will nurture the heart and soul of your company.
Why are company outings so important, you ask?
They boost teamwork, as employees step away from their desks and bond with people they don’t usually work with. Employees yearn to be part of strong, collaborative teams. According to a Queens University of Charlotte study, about 3 in 4 employees rate teamwork and collaboration “very important.”
They enhance (and enable) connections and friendships that produce feelings of happiness and engagement. In a Wild Goose Team Activities survey, 57% of respondents said having best friends in the office makes their work lives more enjoyable, productive, and creative. And according to Gallup, having a best friend at work is a leading indicator of engagement.
They inspire ideas as people set aside to-do lists and reconnect with long-term company goals. It turns out, according to research from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (reported by the Harvard Business Review), that breaks lead to increased insight thanks to a powerful cognitive mechanism: unconscious, or diffuse, thinking. Breaks allow people to leverage powerful unconscious thought processes that make ideas and decisions easier to come by.
They create lasting memories that are hard to walk away from, therefore boosting retention. Relaxation time and positive experiences are a few factors that keep employees coming back to work in the long run.
So are you ready to plan a day of fun that will also boost company performance? Get started with these original company outing ideas. They’re all easy to plan, and everyone on your team will be surprised and delighted to do something together besides the annual holiday party.
1. Host a “mini” conference.
Many company outings focus on obvious varieties of fun—picnics, volleyball tournaments, etc. This outing focuses on the fun of learning, which employees find far more invigorating than you might think. To plan this outing, rent a small conference hall or amphitheater and invite guest speakers with expertise relevant to your business.
What attendees will remember: All the amazing things they learned from the guest speakers. They’ll also remember having fun while simultaneously feeling productive.
2. Go ziplining.
Ziplines have become fantastically popular in recent years, but you can still find quite a few people who haven’t given them a try.
What attendees will remember: Stunning views from their zipline vantage point; they’ll also remember that unforgettable adrenaline rush.
3. Visit a trampoline park.
Some employees haven’t jumped on a trampoline since childhood. Many trampoline parks are geared toward children, so it’s a bold and unforgettable move to rent one for entertaining a busload of adult employees.
What attendees will remember: Disbelief upon discovering that quiet Steve from Accounting can turn a complete flip midair.
4. Go on a yoga retreat.
Many company outings rely on getting employees to communicate more. This company outing invites employees to look inward while enjoying quiet bonding with each other.
What attendees will remember: That moment when the entire team did a flow sequence in (nearly) perfect unison.
5. Take a cooking class.
Cooking classes are not just for first dates. Cooking together has the same benefits as other, more standard, team-building activities, but it takes a fresh perspective while offering both short-term rewards (delicious food) and long-term benefits (enhanced collaboration). (A team that can create perfectly uniform squares of onion can do almost anything.)
What attendees will remember: Learning new things about everyone’s work styles. They’ll love finding out that free and creative Brad actually favors precision chopping techniques while deadline-driven Angela loves to take culinary risks.
6. Take a survival preparedness class.
This outing does as much for teamwork development as any competition to build the best sugar-cube igloo, but it offers much higher stakes. A survival class will leave employees with solid critical thinking skills that will come in handy in any time of crisis—inside or outside work.
What attendees will remember: Establishing a company “who’s who” when it comes to times of crisis. Survival training reveals who can motivate groups, who is better at planning logistics, and who prefers others to take the reigns in times of stress.
7. Do a trash pickup.
Few companies will be brave enough to offer a day of trash pickup as a fun company outing. But the repetitive physical activity provides plenty of room for deep conversations and team bonding. Plus, employees will get a feel-good high as they do something good for the community and the planet.
What attendees will remember: How much fun it really was to pick up garbage for a day.
8. Take a group photography class.
This outing gives employees the chance to do something they probably wouldn’t try for any other reason. Plus, a photography class focuses on hard skills instead of the usual soft skills developed at company outings. (A company-wide photography class can also benefit your business; what company doesn’t need more quality photographs for websites and communications?)
What attendees will remember: Uncovering creative sides they didn’t know they had. Photography makes a perfect creative outlet for people who never excelled at other art forms, such as painting or drawing.
9. Organize an improv class.
No other company outing will provide as much laughter as an improv class. This company outing will take many employees out of their comfort zones in the best possible way.
What attendees will remember: Discovering new streaks of humor in coworkers—humor that water-cooler banter just doesn’t bring out.
10. Paint an urban mural.
Painting a mural gives companies a chance to work together to create lasting art that beautifies the community. (It could also be good advertising for your company.) If you can’t get permission from the community, you could also do a mural inside or outside your own building.
What attendees will remember: How they magically created a cohesive design that still somehow reflects everyone’s individual talents and styles.
11. Play croquet at a local park.
Employees will get a kick out of playing an old-school game that’s relatively rare in the States. Bring picnic blankets, and set up tables with beverages and snacks to make the observation as much fun as the game play. You can even encourage employees to dress up in their croquet best to add an extra sense of ceremony.
What attendees will remember: That time the boss got a croquet mallet stuck in his sweater vest.
12. Give a presentation at a local school or afterschool program.
This highly active company outing idea gets employees sharing skills and knowledge with children, and teaching is a great way to reinforce and deepen existing talents.
What attendees will remember: The realization—thanks to some amazed youthful stares—that they really do have cool jobs.
13. Take a public speaking class.
This activity strays far from the typical company outing material, but at its core, it’s similar to the good old “trust fall.” Employees will grow closer as they engage in the vulnerable act of public speaking.
What attendees will remember: New skills and priceless encouragement from coworkers.
14. Take a farm tour.
A company outing at a farm will get everyone out of the office and into the country, and it also gives employees an illuminating lesson on where their food comes from. (We’re all about making conscious decisions – especially when it comes to our food system. So we especially love this idea.) Bring along a picnic and some games to boost the farmyard bonding even more.
What attendees will remember: Blue skies, live cows, and the revelation that Frank has an intense fear of chickens.
15. Take a field trip.
Instead of planning an outing that focuses on employees’ most business-appropriate skills, try something that brings out their inner children. Charter a bus, grab some snacks, and head out for a day at a local museum, factory, or art gallery.
What attendees will remember: Forming the longest single-file line of adults on record, learning that Adrian knows a lot about woolly mammoths, and piling into a bus with people who don’t usually leave the boardroom.
16. Go on a hike.
Hiking is a 100% organic company outing idea. The bonding happens effortlessly, nature provides all the beauty and entertainment you need, and you don’t need to plan any breakout activities because a long, invigorating hike is really all you need.
What attendees will remember: Having engaging conversations with a variety of different coworkers while enjoying the peace and wonder of nature.
17. Go on a coffee tasting.
Coffee is a classic point of office bonding. This company outing is a crowd pleaser with a bit more flare than a typical wine tasting excursion.
What attendees will remember: The buzz of caffeine mixed with exciting conversations.
18. Volunteer at your local food bank.
Unlike other options for company outings, volunteering at a local food bank is the perfect way to give back to the community. The work is engaging, but not too hard, and there will be plenty of room for quality conversations as employees sort food for distribution.
What attendees will remember: How good it felt to know that a day of work helped provide countless hungry people with nourishing meals.
19. Attend a show at a local theater.
Take a break from baseball games and support local artists by checking out a community theater or musical production. This outing doesn’t involve much employee-to-employee interaction, but it solidifies strong community bonds within your company.
What attendees will remember: Taking over a section of theater so large, the manager offered you an honorary sponsorship.
20. Attend a comedy show.
Laughing in a room together is the perfect way to bond. This company outing is easy on employees, but the frequent laughter makes it energizing and interactive.
What attendees will remember: Seeing Carl spit soda on a stranger during a fit of laughter.
21. Take a mindfulness meditation class.
This quieter-than-average company outing will challenge employees in new ways.
What attendees will remember: The hilarity of someone’s empty stomach growling in a quiet room.
22. Play a game of capture the flag.
Capture the flag encourages truly health competition better than any other activity out there. This rousing activity gets employees working in tight-knit teams, planning detailed strategies, and laughing their butts off.
What attendees will remember: Unforgettable, high-stakes strategizing that made it feel like beating the other team was the most important thing in the world.
23. Volunteer at an animal shelter.
Employees are sure to bond as they care for adorable animals.
What attendees will remember: The new furry friends that deepened existing bonds with coworkers.
24. Take a woodworking class.
Who doesn’t want to pick up a few new practical skills? Choose a class focused on items that could be used in the office (pencil holders, boxes, or tables) so employees can have a souvenir of the outing close by at all times.
What attendees will remember: The smell of wood and the calm, quiet creativity of coworkers.
26. Plan a talent show.
Give employees a venue for showcasing their secret passions by turning your company outing into a star-studded talent show. See if you can find a local venue with a stage, or rent a platform and have your event outdoors.
What attendees will remember: New-found admiration for coworkers with a range of diverse talents―from handstands to ventriloquy.
27. Rent out a roller rink.
Capture the magic of those old-school preteen birthday parties by hosting a company outing at a roller rink.
What attendees will remember: A few trips, some tumbles, and a rare display of backward skating.
28. Have an off-site strategic brainstorm marathon.
Throw out the day-to-day lists and ask employees to brainstorm ideas designed to meet long-term, aspirational business objectives. Employees can work and present in teams, and the entire company can weigh in after each showcase with comments and suggestions. Ask a few Project Managers to record each idea for further consideration.
What attendees will remember: Getting excited by everyone else’s ideas—in other words, getting excited to be part of such a vibrant company.
What’s the company outing you’ve always dreamed of? Let us know what you’ve always wanted to do in the comments below.