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The team having a last minute meeting… with maps!

An article examining the benefits of setting out to sea with your co-workers.

Every month, I’m charged with deciding how to get my co-workers out of the office and engaging in some real-world team building activities. The time spent outdoors and the fresh air has a noticeable effect on morale and productivity. It sounds easy enough to figure out, but lately it had been getting harder to dream up new and challenging activities.

In this last year we’d done kayaking, indoor rock climbing, orienteering in the bush and a day of field sports. Each day had been a great success, and I really felt like people responded well. For the past month, there’d been a lot of water-cooler discussion as to what might be chosen. So, naturally, there was a lot of pressure to get this month right.

There was a general desire for a beach day, a predictable escape from the stuffy office and an event that could prove unrewarding. But the theme stuck with me, and I decided to think outside of the box.

I realised that renting a boat wouldn’t be too expensive. The boat came equipped with an onboard bathroom and a barbeque, so everything we needed was already included. It also occurred to me that driving the boat, setting course for a destination and successfully navigating the voyage would be good team-based fun. We might even be able to drop anchor and take a dip at some point!

In order to not make the whole thing seem like an excuse for a day on the water (which it kind of was!), I dropped by the Chart and Map Shop in Perth and had a good look through the huge collection of coastal maps they had for the waters around the city. I found exactly what I was looking for and promptly purchased ten copies. As I was leaving the store, I wondered if I could pull this off.

I surprised the team with the activity at a general meeting one Friday morning. Passing out the maps, I instructed them to pick from one of the locations already marked out, a place that all of them could agree to. I also told them it could be no further than four hours away, as we had to allow for the trip there and back. Before too long, desks were being pushed together and the chins were wagging, trying to hash out the perfect spot and quickly mark it with an excited X.

The day ended up being a huge success, and people still chat about it today. We had fun and navigated our way around like seasoned sea-men (and women). So, the next time you’re having trouble coming up with a fun team escape, I recommend a boating and navigating activity as one that will appeal to everyone in the office.

A good day for fun and sun!

A good day for fun and sun!

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