Gathering your team in nature builds trust, belonging, and engagement in a way that helps employees refocus on the bigger picture and their purpose. Here's our list of the best outdoor team building activities in London for better connection and collaboration.
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It’s a well-known fact that businesses live and die by their people. They are the heart, mind, and soul of your organisation, and truly are your greatest asset.
Continuing the analogy, much like a human body your workforce has to be nurtured and cared for, otherwise things will start to break down or give up altogether and pretty soon you’ll be immobile. The best way of doing this? Foster a sense of belonging. Your people aren’t drones and they shouldn’t be sitting in silos disconnected from each other.
People want to make real connections when they go to work. It’s where they spend half their time, after all. Meaningful relationships don’t just make the day go faster for your staff, they actually boost business. On average, companies with high connection scores had 32% higher ratings than their competitors, were 14 times more likely to be named on a “best places to work” list and were 25% more likely to be recommended by current employees to their friends.
So, how can you achieve this? It’s unnatural to force genuine connections, but a basic understanding of psychology shows that finding common ground between people is the fastest way to start growing these connections. This has probably happened to you before, if you have bonded with someone over a hobby or shared opinion.
One of the best ways to increase trust, belonging and engagement is through team building activities in the great outdoors. Spending time together in nature is shown to have many benefits for developing relationships and connection. A lot of research shows that time in nature leads to improved communication and collaboration between individuals, provides a deep sense of purpose and strengthens an individual’s environmental values. It is also shown to dramatically increase creative problem solving, by as much as 50%.
However team building in nature often focuses heavily on competitive pursuits.
Popular activities include paintballing, go-karting, and scavenger hunts. These are fun things for your team to do, but will they actually make your employees work together better? Or will they reinforce office divisions and tribalism? The problem with stereotypical team builders is that they might not have that extra factor that intentionally builds trust, connection, or leads to any change. Often, it's just about fun or about competition.
With all that being said, here's our guide to the best outdoor team building activities in London (with links), designed to build connection, culture and collaboration:
1. Tree planting
This is a wonderful activity that goes beyond regular team building. Of course, you’ll get all the benefits of being in nature, with the added boost that your work is bringing about long lasting change. Watching those trees grow will always be a reminder to your team of the good work and fun times they shared. Promoting sustainability is also a great marketing tool and fosters morale and wellbeing throughout your organisation, so why not get involved?
2. Beach clean
Did you know, there are over 25 beaches in the London area? In a similar vein to tree planting, cleaning up the local beach not only benefits your team but also the local community. Get a healthy dose of sea air and arrange your own beach clean here.
Is there anything better than sleeping under the stars? Get back to nature by spending a night out in the forest. Put up your tents (now this is a great team building exercise), gather firewood, sing songs, play games, and act like kids for the night. There are plenty of great campsites in the London area, so get hunting here.
If you don’t want to spend a whole night away from home, then a hike is the perfect solution. There are a ton of accessible hikes in London, from short jaunts to all day epics. You don’t have to be Bear Grylls to enjoy a ramble with teammates, and if you’re smart, you can end up at the pub! Find some great hikes here.
5. Team BBQ
Let’s face it, office parties can get a touch expensive, so save some pennies and enjoy the sun by having a team BBQ! Luckily, there are a lot of great free places in London where you can roll up with your pitcher, blankets, and portable speaker, so get the suncream on and get grilling! Here are some of the top choices for BBQs in the London area.
This is the perfect way to unleash your inner child, particularly on a hot day. Beat stuffy offices and hotel meeting rooms by donning your swimsuits and shooting down some slides. Even non-swimmers will still have a great time in the jacuzzis! Get a list of the best London waterparks here.
7. Bike rides
Cycling is a fantastic form of exercise and a nice way to see a lot in a short space of time. Team members can also chat as they cycle, and you can break up the journey with pit stops at beauty spots, cafes, or pubs. Just make sure that everyone can ride a bike before you start planning! Here are some bike trail ideas around London to get you started.
8. Outdoor party
If none of those appeal, why not just throw a party outdoors? All you need are some tables, chairs, and some lights if you plan on going on into the night. In fact, the sky is the limit when it comes to being outdoors. Get some live music, station some fun games around, open a bar, and let the good times roll!
9. Team Campfire with School of the Wild
All the above activities are fun and worthwhile, but they don't have a focus and could mean that you’re leaving your team building up to chance. Without the proper guidance, knowledge, and structure, you’re unlikely to see deeper, meaningful connections and conversations develop. Bringing your team into nature is a great step, but it’s not enough.
That’s where School of the Wild can help. With venues in South and West London, we make it easy to escape into nature. We mix fun experiential team building with team development around the campfire, creating space for meaningful conversations that build relationships and promote positive culture change. We have programmes for leaders and hybrid teams, which combine learning, personal development, team building, team strategy and fun, all in one programme.
At School of the Wild, we bring leaders and teams outside to help you reconnect and think differently, so that you are inspired to change the way you work.
We incorporate activities like making fires, creating a team symbol from materials that you find in the forest, and connecting with nature as part of creating space for meaningful conversations that build belonging and align your workforce with your values. Have a look at our team building programmes or get in touch for more information.
Author & Curator
Nigel Berman is the founder of School of the Wild.