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virtual team building or face to face?

Virtual or Live team building – which is the best choice for my team?

Category: Team Building

Virtual team building activities were the way forward in 2020. Thousands of us converted our live events to virtual so that we could still fulfill the ongoing need for team development, even though we couldn’t be there in person.

But as we’re now (rather terrifyingly!) nearly halfway through 2021 and we can see a glimmer of hope about a return to something resembling normality, should we be returning to 100% face to face activities, or is there an argument to continue online?

Using our virtual events and face to face events as reference, here’s what we think about the pros and cons of virtual and face to face team building exercises.

Virtual Team Building

Pros

If there’s one thing we’ve all learned over the past year, it’s that a two hour round trip to a meeting is a waste of time if it can be done online.  Of course, this doesn’t work for everyone, but we’ve certainly become better at recognising when a Zoom call will do.  So, if you’ve got a busy schedule and need to ensure that the group activities you’ve chosen don’t take up the whole day, a 90-minute activity online slots in nicely.  Especially true if you aren’t UK based – differing time zones and thousands of miles across an ocean are not an obstacle.

This of course goes hand in hand with cost; even though we’re still delivering with live actors and all the associated costs, we can bring the budget right down by doing away with travel time and mileage.

Very small teams sit in between the pro and con of virtual team building, unfortunately.  For us a virtual event costs as much to run for 5 people as it does for 20, which can be hard to justify if you’re looking to get a small management team of 5 together, for example.  However, it’s still very much more cost effective than a face-to-face event for small teams.  Watch out for our blog next month looking at the costs involved in team building and why they are definitely worth investing in.

We’ve also discovered more and more over the past year how flexible these events can be.  We’ll deliver a face-to face event once;  in October we ran the same virtual event for a global software company 30 times over 3 days in 3 different time zones.

Cons

Unstable Internet. Power Cuts.  Technical glitches.  Need we say more?  Touch wood, we have never been booted out of an event but we’ve experienced actors freezing mid-sentence or disappearing into virtual backgrounds.  If you’re happy to accept that these things can happen when delivering online then that’s great, but if not, let’s get back face to face…

Face to Face Team Building

Pros

Without a doubt, the interaction with real human beings in person is something you can’t quite emulate on the screen and is a massive reason why you’d be likely to choose a face-to-face event.  Although the actual interaction still exists online, those little clues we rely on; body language, facial expressions and tone of voice can sometimes be missed on a Zoom call.  Who hasn’t turned their video off to go and make a cup of tea or checked their emails during a meeting?   Of course it’s up to us as presenters to keep up the engagement but it’s much easier to slip under the radar online.

Cons

We can look to the pros of virtual events for this!  Face to face events cost more and will take up a larger chunk of your time, simple.

In a nutshell: all of our events provide the interaction needed for successful team development.  However, if you’re short on time or have a small team, or your office is not UK based then investigate virtual team building activities for sure.  If you’ve got a larger team, with a day or half day put aside for the event, let’s come to you!

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