Driving diggers and other corporate awaydays

Team building sessions and awaydays have always been a part of office culture. But in a post-pandemic world, where we meet our colleagues IRL, or even in the virtual metaverse, will the awayday survive? 

Isabel explores the appeal of the awayday with Ed Mumm, who owns Dig This, a ‘super sized sandbox’ for adults in Las Vegas. Driving Ed’s giant diggers is a popular team day out, giving staff the chance to let loose and compete for prizes. 

Andrew Hill, FT management editor, talks about more ‘out there’ awaydays - including geese herding and Hunger Games reenactments - and what staff get out of them. Research on the topic is scant, but it’s likely that the impact is short-term and focuses [can an impact focus on?] on improved interpersonal relations.

The serious version of the awayday is the corporate offsite, where leaders gather to discuss strategy or do a course. There’s a long history of big companies having their own ‘campuses’ for training and retreats - famously GE’s Crotonville in New York State. That might be coming back into vogue - Salesforce’s Marc Benioff has talked about buying a ranch for his employees. 

Finally, Andrew and Isabel discuss what might be next for team building and strategy days. Aside from ayahuasca journeys - favoured by some out-there start-ups - the metaverse offers a lot of potential for remote teams to gather in one place, joined via headsets.  

Want to

Andrew Hill on working in the metaverse ttps://www.ft.com/content/61ce8588-5233-44d0-aa12-ce9ed60fb314 ... and on strategy awaydays ttps://www.ft.com/content/4aa19b24-6935-11e6-a0b1-d87a9fea034f

GE’s own fascinating history of Crotonville - established in the ‘Mad Men’ era, and still going strong https://www.ge.com/news/reports/inside-crotonville-ges-corporate-vault-unlocked

Ed Mumm’s Dig This in Las Vegas, where you can watch your boss drive a giant digger https://digthisvegas.com/

From our colleagues at the tech news site Sifted, strange stories of taking psychedelics on team awaydays https://sifted.eu/articles/psychedelic-retreat/

We love to hear from you. What do you like (or not)? What topics should we tackle in 2022? Email us at workingit@ft.com or Isabel directly at isabel.berwick@ft.com. Follow @isabelberwick on Twitter or Instagram.

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Presented by Isabel Berwick. Editorial direction from Renée Kaplan. Assistant producer is Persis Love. Sound design is by Breen Turner, with original music from Metaphor Music. Produced by Novel.

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