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Taking team-building into the digital era

Sarah K. White | March 9, 2016
Say goodbye to trust falls and weekend retreats. Custom-designed games are the new way to foster collaboration and team-building.

When staffing a department, hiring the right people is only part of the process. The next step is ensuring they remain engaged. According to a 2015 survey by Gallup of 7,273 adult workers, only 32 percent of workers are engaged in their jobs. But encouraging employees to stay engaged isn't easy, and most companies won't achieve team bonding with pre-designed exercises and work retreats. At least, that's the case, according to Jenny Gottstein, director of games at The Go Game, a company focused on designing modern team-building exercises.

The Go Game works to develop client-specific "game experiences" tailored around a business' location, department and working environment. "We build the game on top of the real world -- a layer of mystery, absurdity and competition. It's a heightened experience. We turn up the volume on the natural environment and sprinkle a layer of spectacle," says Gottstein. And, that's not the only reason, she says, clients have found success through The Go Game, it's also simply because "it's actually fun."

According to Gottstein, the most important aspect to team building that The Go Game has observed over the years is trust. And, while that might induce images of the cliché trust fall exercises of the 90s, it couldn't be further from the case. The games are developed around a specific concept that a company wants to instill in its workforce, she says. "For example, we once designed a game for a large company that demonstrated the importance of diversity and inclusion when building strong teams." And something about this new type of team building has moved major tech companies like Uber, Salesforce and even Facebook to adopt The Go Game into the workplace.

A different type of team building

Some of the games may sound like traditional team-building exercises, like the "classic scavenger hunt," but The Go Game puts a special twist on the concept. "Using interactive technology, talented actors and a healthy dose of humor, we are able to turn any environment (a neighborhood, a building, a city) into a live-action game board," says Gottstein. "Almost like The Game with Michael Douglas, but much less terrifying." Other games include the Go Game Show, which combines a game show format with trivia and relays. There's also the disaster-preparedness games and mindfulness games, aimed at leadership development. Each game combines a level of technology, interaction and silliness to get employees comfortable opening up with their coworkers.

Ultimately, Gottstein says these games take the concept of play and then tailor it to a company's specific needs. "We've designed games to help international division leads find a sense of purpose in their work, games that empower entry-level employees to take pride in their contributions, games that help policy-makers understand the impact of their decision making on the communities they serve, games that help marketing teams brainstorm new campaigns," he says.


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