Patrick Molloy, Adventure Sports Innovation
In Chattanooga, as vaccines roll out and our public health emergency starts to feel manageable, how are companies planning to bring their employees back together? Many employees have been working remotely for over a year. Others have been on the front lines facing nervous customers in masks. How do managers get their employees functioning as a team again, and is it worth considering the value of incorporating well-managed fun into a company’s “back-to-the-office” strategy.
Here at Adventure Sports Innovation, like many local providers of group activities, we’re preparing for the return of corporate team building and team development events, and we’re anticipating that many organizations are going to look for novel ways to ease the transition back to working in person. The challenge of course, is finding ways to encourage fun and connection without encouraging risk.
At ASI we do think it’s possible and we do think it’s worth it. We’ve always built our events around getting outdoors and trying new things, so we’ve always had to spend considerable time thinking about safety and risk management. We equip all of our guests with helmets and other appropriate safety gear, and all of our group excursions, virtual or otherwise, are guided by professionals. None of this prepared us for pandemic risk management, but we were luckier than most, and we found that many of our adventures were easily adjusted to keep people safe and happy. Cleaning happens constantly – of course – and we’ve adjusted policies to allow smaller groups to reserve exclusive access to our facilities for events. However, for larger groups – even as many as 30 participants – we’ve been able to leverage our location on the North Shore to develop new activities that take advantage of the beautiful outdoor spaces along the riverfront.
We have already held our first few small team events of the year and, so far, our system is working well. In fact, the reviews for group events this year have been even better than back in 2019 and early 2020, as everyone is excited to be together again. Collaborating on topics like “Innovating within your company”, “Overcoming Fears to Success” or “Overcoming Unconscious Bias”, and then playing together for a couple of hours on Little Vehicles around town, VR Simulators, or on our unique Swincar electric off-roaders, seems to be the ice breaker and stress reliever that teams hard-wired throughout the pandemic really need.
Between the safety of our clients and our own concerns for the safety of our facilitators, there’s a lot to consider, but we’ve found that activities as simple as riding electric scooters, e-bikes and mini-Segways together on the Riverwalk can be a great way to remind people that it’s kind of nice to see their team every day. Plus, while under normal circumstances it’s difficult to both bond and be socially distant, we’ve found that riding Little Vehicles together has been a notable exception.
We see the benefits of making something that's “not-so-normal”, become a part of a company’s “return to normal.” Will the market see it that way? Who knows. But if it does, we’ll be ready for it.