Four Proven and Powerful Team Building Exercises

Gone are the days of trust falls and human knots. Team building exercises have taken a serious scientific turn in the past few years and there are many proven exercises that can help bring your team together or get them performing at a higher level. Here are sparkspace, we firmly believe in the importance of team building, and we find it helpful to incorporate team building exercises into key meetings. Not sure what that would look like? Here are four ideas to build trust, communication, and creativity within your group.

To Bring a New Team Together

If you’ve just added people to your team or this is the first time a particular set of people have worked together, a great way to bring the group closer is to encourage social bonding in a non-work environment. In a LinkedIn study, 46% of professionals worldwide indicated that having friends in the workplace was crucial for their overall work satisfaction.

Bringing a group of people together socially requires organization and planning. Many people, when left to their own devices, are too shy to speak up in social situations which is why a structured activity that finds common ground between team members is best. One example of this is our North Market Interactive Lunch. Everyone loves to eat, so the engagement and conversations that come with a “foodie adventure” are sure to spark team bonding.

For Better Team Communication

Miscommunication can lead to something as innocent as a missed project deadline or as massive as losing your biggest client. If your team is having trouble communicating clearly, first get everyone out of the office. Typically communication issues are tied to trust so getting everyone out of their usual environment will clear the way for a breakthrough experience.

Improv Comedy is a great exercise in getting everyone synchronized. As our friends at local improv troupe, Hashtag Comedy say, “Basic improv skills encourage listening and connecting in a collaborative manner. Improv games help employees to suspend judgment and overcome blocks to creative problem-solving. In addition to building better communication among co-workers, improv also aids in interactions and engagement with clients and customers.” 

You can add an Improv Team Building Workshop to your next meeting at sparkspace if you want to start improving your team’s ability to communicate with one another.

Gain Cooperation

Perhaps your team is already established, but they just can’t seem to get it together for this particular assignment. Personalities are clashing, and no one can agree on where to head the project next. If you need to encourage cooperation or collaboration amongst your group, try some volunteer activities.

When employees work together for a very clear goal, such as serving lunch at a soup kitchen or participating in a litter cleanup, they gain a sense of pride and accomplishment that carries back into the office.

Increase Creative Problem Solving

Being creative and innovative can be difficult in a rigid corporate world. If you want to encourage problem-solving, the first requirement is to create a problem. I’m sure many groups would consider being locked in a room together with a problem, which is why an escape room is a great activity. These rooms challenge participants to find a final exit key or code through a series of riddles or clues.

If you want your team to start thinking outside the box and come up with innovative solutions for your project, give them a chance to work together on something completely creative and non-work related.

While some employees will roll their eyes at the first mention of team building exercises, more and more businesses are finding fun and innovative ways to engage employees, bring teams together and increase productivity and their bottom line. Try a new team building activity in your office or join sparkspace for one of ours!

Why Columbus Sparks Creativity

Research shows that the company you keep plays a large role in your ability to think creatively. Luckily for central Ohioans, Columbus is one of the top cities in the country in terms of sparking creativity. As a creative meeting space, our entire ideology rests on the belief that getting out of the office and into a new and stimulating environment is the key to sparking creativity and ideas. We believe that good ideas are borne of new experiences and that creativity is sparked through stepping out of the norm.

Whether you’re new to the area or a long-time local, there’s something for everyone in Columbus. Don’t believe us? Try out a few of these hotspots, and you’ll see for yourself why Columbus sparks creativity for business professionals:

Columbus Museum of Art

The Columbus Museum of Art is a great place to go to see the creative work of others, but it’s also known for spectacular workshops and events that can help spark creativity. From luncheons to open studios in combination to the exhibits themselves, this museum is a must-see part of Columbus if you’re looking for a little inspiration.

North Market

This casual eatery is one of the hallmarks of Columbus culture and a top destination for tourists of the city. The lively lunch rush makes North Market the perfect place to get a taste of fresh cuisine while enjoying some people watching. With cuisines from all around the world cooked upon order with fresh, local ingredients, North Market gives you the inspiration of the world without ever having to leave the city.

They say the way to the heart is through the stomach, but North Market just might prove that it’s not just the heart you’ll reach…but perhaps your creativity as well. And don’t forget to visit the North Market with your team while you’re here at sparkspace too!

Comedy Shows

It’s said that laughter is the best medicine, but who knew it can also be the key to creativity? At least that’s the idea behind Hashtag Comedy Co., a local comedy improv group. Through their improv classes and corporate workshops, they can help you and your team get up, get laughing, and start thinking outside of the box. We believe in the creative benefits of improv so much that we offer an improv team building experience right here at sparkspace, lead by Hashtag Comedy!

Short North Arts District

The Short North is regarded as the “art and soul” of Columbus due to its dynamic culture and unique community. Many young business professionals live in the district, which gives the area a young, vibrant feel. There are many opportunities to get involved with the community, from gallery hops every first Saturday of the month to fun nights out at the district’s bars. Engaging with other young professionals in a culture-rich area might be just what you need to spark your next great idea!

 

Creativity doesn’t come from sitting in an office forcing yourself to think. It comes from vibrant experiences and energizing environments. Business professionals in central Ohio are nestled perfectly within a city bursting with opportunities to get involved and spark creativity. The next time you need a new idea, try stepping out of the office and into a new experience and you might just realize how quickly it sparks creativity!

Three Common Myths About Team Building

You’ve been instructed by your boss to include a “team building activity” on to your company’s upcoming retreat. You can practically hear the groans coming from nearby cubicles as you send the Outlook invite. Why does team building have such a bad reputation? What is the purpose of team building? Maybe because there’s such a stereotype associated with it.

Here are the 3 common myths we hear about team building:

1. Team building puts people to sleep. On the contrary! A well-executed, simple team building activity will leverage each individual’s unique problem-solving skills so everyone feels engaged (and no one feels bored).

2. Team building isn’t fun. At sparkspace, we believe the best team building experiences don’t involve work or solving problems related to your work…those type of activities typically tank. Instead, focus on problem-solving with fun applications like playing games.

3. Team building activities take too long. We agree with this one! Traditional team building can be a half day or – gasp – a full day affair. No thanks! An hour for team building is a great sweet spot to step away from your meeting, engage your team, and then go back into meeting mode.

sparkspace is trying to change the way companies do team building. We actually like to refer to it as team bonding instead of team building, since bonding is what it’s ultimately encouraging.

That’s why we’ve partnered with some amazing local companies to bring you our NEW Team Bonding Experiences, that help demonstrate the importance of team building.

Did we mention that this is really easy to add on to a meeting? And that you can add it on at any time during your meeting? Contact us to get more details or you can click the button below.

The Staggering Importance of Team Culture

Organizational culture. What is it and why does it matter so much?  One of my favorite team culture descriptions comes from Richard Perrin: Organizational Culture is the sum of values and rituals which serve as ‘glue’ to integrate the members of an organization.” The reason I love this definition is that it speaks to both the WHAT (rituals) and the WHY (values) of team culture in the workplace.

Why does organizational culture matter?

When team members of an organization feel safe, valued and aligned with the company’s overall vision and mission, the glue that holds them together is strong. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize the positive impact that culture has on efficiency and productivity!

How do we take intentional action toward creating a positive team culture?

Here are ways you can get started today:

  • Create space and opportunities for your team and members of your organization to connect outside of formal meetings. A study conducted by MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory found that the energy and engagement level of a team can be greatly increased by simply structuring coffee breaks so that all members of the team can break together.
  • Deal directly with policies, processes and people that propagate negative experiences that are destructive to a healthy culture. Though this is far from pleasant and desirable, the consequences of addressing issues with a passive, or blanket approach – or worse yet ignoring them – are far greater than the discomfort of tackling them quickly and head on. A productive way to approach these difficult situations is through meeting facilitation, which we offer at sparkspace. Our expert facilitators can help you and your team smoothly navigate any conflicts or issues.
  • Empower your people. Nothing builds trust like providing your people with the direction and resources they need to be successful and then giving them the space to do what they were hired to do. This doesn’t mean you have to be totally hands-off. It means you allow people to do their thing and serve as more of a guide, rather than their (micro)manager.

In what ways have you effectively created and/or strengthened the culture where you serve, work and lead? Please share with us by commenting on this blog post. In addition, plan your next offsite meeting or retreat with us here at sparkspace.

How to Know When It’s Time for a Team Retreat

When it comes to off-site team retreats, there are typically two kinds of people: those that love them and those that don’t. Despite this polarization, retreats can play a huge part in both the short and long-term success of your team and organization.

The key is knowing when a retreat makes sense for your team.

Off-site team retreats are most appropriate when they have a very focused and clear objective that reaches beyond immediate results. Retreat goals and objectives such as innovation, collaborative decision making, and process evaluation or improvement are just a few examples of great reasons for an off-site retreat. Or maybe your team has some baggage that is dragging down productivity and morale.

Besides the content of the meeting, a team retreat may be needed when you desire these outcomes the most:

  1. Gathering all parties vital to the desired outcome in the same place at the same time.
  2. Everyone away from the regular buzz and interruptions of the office for distraction-free work time.
  3. Work being done in real-time and face-to-face; eliminating the potential for misunderstanding and wasted time.
  4. Relationships being built and strengthened while working off-site and reenergizing your team beyond the event itself.

What are your reasons for an off-site retreat? Which of the benefits above would mean the most to you in tackling that objective head on?

Your first step is an easy one: get off-site.

There are plenty of staff retreat locations that help fit the goals and objectives of your retreat. Here at sparkspace, we can help you in facilitating the best retreat everAdding meeting facilitation from Team Sparkspace will strengthen the objectivity, focus, and creativity of discussion.

Three Team Outing Ideas in Downtown Columbus, Ohio

Three Team Outing Ideas in the Arena District

You’ve planned the perfect meeting and now it’s time to plan a memorable team outing for after the meeting. We are very lucky that our space is in the heart of the Arena District in Downtown Columbus. That means you’re close to some of the best restaurants and entertainment the city has to offer after your all-day meeting.

There’s nothing wrong with a team happy hour. However, we challenge you to go above and beyond.  We think putting a “twist” on the ordinary is what makes a meeting memorable. Read on for our favorite team and corporate outing ideas in Columbus, Ohio.


Columbus Clippers Baseball Game

Head over to Huntington Park for America’s greatest pastime with your team! The Columbus Clippers have ticket packages for groups as well as options to rent suites for corporate outings.

Want to do some team building during the game? Check out our blog post about structured play on how to enhance your outing.

Downtown Columbus Segway Tour

The staff at sparkspace can personally vouch for this team activity! We loved going for a guided Segway ride altogether when we went during a special “Holiday Lights” tour last December. This is perfect if you’re looking for a small group activity.

Tours begin at the Convention Center (a short walk from our space) where you receive Segway driving directions and go for a spin on their test course before you hit the road.

Tours take you through Downtown Columbus and the Short North. Your tour guide gives you some history of the city as well as a hefty dose of humor. We did this as a team and loved it!

Team sparkspace bundled up for the Segway Tour!

 

Nada Mexican Restaurant

Nothing brings people together like being gathered around the table with great food. Nada’s private party room provides an eclectic, communal feel along with their legendary tacos.

We love recommending team dinners in their private space because it’s a great atmosphere for conversation. Their private room can sit up to 24 at one large table or 30-35 guests in a standing, cocktail-style dinner with food displayed. The room is also equipped with AV equipment if you simply must continue your presentation from the day into dinner.

Nada private dining space

 

Looking for more fun group activities in Columbus, Ohio? Contact us to brainstorm or consult with the Columbus pros at Experience Columbus!

Current Meeting Catering Trends That We Love

“If you feed them, they will come.” Ah yes, the mantra of every meeting planner rings truer today than ever before, especially in the foodie culture of Columbus.

Of course, meeting participants must be fed. However, offering a sensational food spread that gets people excited for the event is what takes a planner from good to great. Catering is a big part of making a meeting an experience.

Here are our favorite corporate catering trends of the year so far:

1. Picturesque Snack Spreads

Afternoon snacks have a spotlight on them this year – it’s all about the presentation. And the more creative, Instagram-worthy the snack spread, the better. Our Downtown Columbus catering partners, like Graze, have taken note of the importance of an elevated party platter. Graze’s farm-to-table spreads look almost too beautiful to eat with Ohio-sourced artisanal cheeses (see trend #2 below), homemade peach jam, toasted baguette wedges, and seasonal vegetable crudités. Meeting participants will be impressed with your decision to upgrade the stereotypical veggie-and-ranch platter with a lavish spread.

2. Go Local!

Meals being locally sourced are becoming increasingly important for companies who strive to be socially responsible. Guests ask us all the time about local options on our catering menu. Market 65 is a great local option on our menu because they grow a lot of their own vegetables right here in the city.

Many catering companies make it a point to source some ingredients from nearby farms. The next time you place a lunch order, just ask! It makes a great talking point during a meeting when you can point out lunch items that were homegrown just down the street.

3. Build-Your-Own Bowl Buffets

Embrace the Chipotle era we live in by offering a build-your-own bowl for lunch in lieu of a traditional buffet. Creating a customized bowl is far more interactive than piling up a plate while going through the buffet line because it encourages people to be creative by mixing & matching flavors. It also creates a conversation like, “what sauce did you use?” or “did you add chicken or tofu to yours?” Think of it as a mini team building activity during lunch! Our catering partner, Two Caterers, offers seasonal build-your-own buffet bowls that are a big hit with our guests.

So there you have it – our favorite new trends in catering! How will you make lunch a moment to remember at your next meeting? Comment on this article to share!

Three Ways to Make Your Meeting an Experience

Why is creating an “experience” so important anyway?

We remember experiences. Studies have shown that we are more likely to recall information when it is attached to a sense, whether it’s touch, sight, smell, taste, or sound. We all know what it’s like when a certain smell or song sends us right back in time to memory from our childhood or past event in our lives. So what better way to create a creative meeting experience than to include one of our five senses?

Here are three out-of-the-box meeting ideas that will create a memorable experience:

 

Encourage Doodling & Play

Creating a playful environment is one way to generate a memorable experience. Not many meetings include hands-on materials like play dough, crayons, markers, construction paper, and pipe cleaners on the conference table. Go ahead…encourage your team to doodle during your meeting and watch their reactions.

By simply allowing “play” and “doodling” during your next meeting your team has the potential to retain up to 30% more information presented. Don’t believe me? Check out this article and book by Sunni Brown. She is a doodle expert!

 

Provide Food, Food, and more Food

Smells are one of the strongest senses tied to memory, so food can be key to a memorable experience. Plus, it’s the best part of the meeting, right? Now, a plain deli tray may not awaken our senses, but a hot Korean BBQ bowl with sautéed veggies, colorful toppings and a variety of sauces is another story. It’s making me hungry just typing it up!

Food bowls are very trendy right now and the presentation is amazing so try one at your next meeting. Read our blog post on current food trends that you can serve at your next meeting!

Seasonal Meeting Catering

 

Participate in a Team Bonding Activity

This is an easy one. No matter what team bonding experience you choose whether you’re volunteering, taking a food tour, or bowling, your team is likely to remember this type of event. Especially since they’ll be engaging all their senses.

Escape Room Team Building Activity

If you’re looking for ideas for conference activities, we have several options here at sparkspace including our summer exclusive with Kingmakers. Kingmakers is a board game parlor with game “sommeliers.” We also have our escape room (pictured above) and our North Market Foodie Adventure. For more information on our team bonding experiences click here.