Team building events should be suitable for everyone in the attending team. If they aren’t, you’re already causing a fracture in the team, rather than building it up.
The best team building events are ones that suit everyone on the attendance list, and have considered the individuals who come along to ensure all access needs are catered for.
All too often, corporate team building event ideas unwittingly exclude some team members, and this simply isn’t necessary or in the best interests of the team.
Here we face the taboo subject head on, and help you come up with ideas to create team building events that suit everyone.
How to plan accessible team building events that suit everyone
The legal stuff
For many disabled people, their legal rights help them to feel more secure and on a more equal footing.
Particularly in the arena of corporate team building events, there is usually an obligation to ensure the event is accessible to everyone.
For example, in the UK, meeting the requirements of the Equality Act 2010 is the employer’s responsibility and this stipulates that ‘reasonable adjustments’ should be made to avoid the disabled person being put at a disadvantage compared to a non-disabled person in the workplace.
This should extend to things such as team-building events.
The inherent reasons
Beyond this, planning a team building event should have as a core objective everyone having a great time.
If every member of the team isn’t having a great time then at best you’re hoping for some bonding over shared negativity, which probably isn’t what you’re aiming for!
What’s more, accessible team building events are generally more successful for everyone anyway. It shouldn’t be a case of ‘catering to disabilities’ as if it’s an extra hassle.
Instead, it should be seen as removing barriers so that everyone can thrive for the benefit of the whole team.
Putting the cart before the horse
Unfortunately, however, making corporate team building events accessible is often an afterthought. It’s given consideration after the team building event ideas have become plans, and, funnily enough, the individual with disabilities knows that the solution to their accessibility problems has been shoehorned in in a make-do fashion. In 2022, that’s not good enough.
Thinking about your corporate team building ideas should consider known and anticipated accessibility issues from the very beginning.
Top tips for planning accessible team building events
Ask, don't assume
People with disabilities have often become exceptional advocates for themselves – not through choice, but through necessity. And they are the best experts on what they need.
Be honest and chat to them at the inception stage to find out what accommodations they need, and what works well for them. Chatting about disabilities shouldn’t be taboo – be sensitive, respect privacy, but let’s not give fuel to the shame-laden culture of disabilities.
Consider hidden disabilities
Not all disabilities are visible and when planning a team building event, you need to give consideration to all disabilities which may affect your team. If you have neurodiverse team members, what adjustments do they need?
For example, does someone who has anxiety need a colleague to attend the venue with them?
Think about every step of the event
Practicing putting yourself in the shoes of someone else can really help with planning an accessible event. If you imagine yourself as that individual, how would you manage each part of the event? How would you get there? How would you move about and communicate? How would you get to the loo? How would you see or hear what’s going on?
This will help you identify if there are needed things at the venue/s such as ramps or hearing loops.
Give advanced notice
We’ll say it until we are blue in the face: disabled people are the best experts in their own disability. They live with their disability day-in-day-out and continuously make adjustments to their daily living to function in a world which, unfortunately, isn’t very disability-friendly.
However, no one has magical powers and they can’t offer a solution or work a get-around if they don’t have enough time and notice. So always give them plenty of notice.
Additionally, accessibility information should be provided in advance, for example on the provider’s website.
Provide an escape hatch
Unfortunately, there are times when even the most carefully laid plan doesn’t work out. Particularly with disabilities which vary in their effects from day-to-day, not everything is predictable.
Whatever your team building event, consider a Plan B or an exit strategy. For example, does a team building event take you down a street which now has a narrowed pavement meaning the path isn’t wide enough for a wheelchair? How will you get around this?
Many team building events automatically become accessible simply by providing some hands-on help for the disabled person. For example, if the person with mobility issues uses a manual wheelchair when walking longer distances, who will push them? What about the deaf person in the escape room who can’t hear the verbal instructions over the speakers – who’s responsible for making sure the information is shared?
After the event, get feedback from disabled attendees about what worked for them and what didn’t. You can use this knowledge to improve your planning for future team building events.
You’ve got the groundwork in place, and all the best intentions, so what are some ideas for team building events which suit everyone?
The best team building events open to everyone
Get thinking with Detective Days
Detective Days are some of the most accessible team building events that we know of. Our Detective Days can be created around the specific needs of your group, and as such, known disabilities can be factored in.
Involving no more physical activity than walking, routes can be planned to be wheelchair-friendly. They are suitable for Guide and Service dogs too as they all take place outside in public areas.
Great for: Most teams, and most accessibility needs, and developing a range of team building benefits.
Think about: Pavement routes being accessible for wheelchairs, and alternative options.
Lights, camera, action with stop motion movie making
Teams pull together and have great fun, as well as create something to take away, with a stop motion movie making experience. What’s great about these activities is that everyone can play to their strengths and not too much physicality is involved, unlike with classic movie making.
Great for: Building creative and innovative teams.
Think about: Visibility issues for sight-impaired attendees.
Sometimes you just can’t beat a team quiz. With the right quiz master, the event can be fun, fast-paced and bond a team faster than superglue. Make rounds diverse. For example, have some rounds that aren’t straight question-and-answer, but perhaps make use of props, music or pictures.
Great for: Getting to know everyone in a team, and allowing different strengths to shine.
Think about: Consider the environment and structure for neurodiverse team members and think about sound systems for the hearing impaired.
Ice cream making workshop
Mmm, we all scream for ice cream! Get the team together and book onto an ice cream making workshop. You can enjoy the delicious creations together afterwards too and nothing creates unity quite like shared eating. These workshops are instructor led and can even be organised to come to your office.
Great for: A non-sporty team building activity that focuses on fun.
Think about: Ensure that work counters are accessible for wheelchair users and determine any relevant allergies before booking.
Beat the Box
Lots of places now offer team building events around the concept of Beat the Box. The team has a set period of time to solve the challenges around a physical box to unlock parts and crack codes, before the time is up.
Great for: Small to medium teams looking for a structured activity.
Think about: Choose a venue which takes its accessibility requirements seriously. Consider how all team members will get involved and attend.
4x4 driving experience
Send the team off road with a 4x4 driving experience. Teams will be taught how to channel their inner-rugged resilience to scale physical obstacles and explore new territory. Attendees can take turns being behind the wheel and being a passenger, so everyone has fun.
Great for: A physical activity for all, with an element of challenge.
Think about: Make sure that all team members can physically access and operate the vehicles. Avoid for teams where attendees have neck or back problems, or experience chronic pain.
Take a trip to a local attraction
From guided tours around local museums to enjoying a cruise on a nearby city river, a simple and fun team building activity is to become tourists for the day together. Pick an attraction that suits your team, check out its accessibility and then plan for the team to have a brilliant shared experience together.
Great for: Picking something that will float-the-boat of everyone.
Think about: Check out how your team will travel to and from the attraction, and consider all access requirements at the attraction itself.
Virtual escape room
Standard escape rooms can be tricky when it comes to accessibility. They can pose a problem for anxiety-sufferers, and present accessibility issues for wheelchair users, and even using overhead speakers can be tricky for those who are hearing impaired. But that doesn’t mean that escape room fun is unobtainable for your team – go online instead with a virtual escape room. These work brilliantly with teams communicating via video conference alongside shared screens. Clever stuff, and highly accessible.
Great for: A fully-accessible team building activity for those with mobility issues.
Think about: Consider any visually impaired team mates.
Go on a treasure hunt
Treasure hunts involve the team working together to come up with solutions in their quest to find the treasure. The beauty about treasure hunts is that they can be set up pretty much anywhere and pitched at different levels. They can be walking-based or use cars. The team has to work together, and that is great for reaping the team building benefits.
Great for: A variety of teams who need to come together and develop their problem-solving abilities.
Think about: Choose the location and level according to the needs of the individual team.
Splash the paint at an art class
Even those who don’t think of themselves as creative can have loads of fun at an art class team building event. The class might involve you all working together to create a big picture or multi-canvas masterpiece (new interior design for the office perhaps?!).
Alternatively, you may all work on your own creations, alongside each other, to then take home. There are loads of different options for art classes from life drawing to pottery.
Great for: Letting everyone have a go in an accepting and welcoming environment which is often easily made accessible to all.
Think about: Visually-impaired team members may feel excluded from this activity, and do check the accessibility of the venue, such as ramps for wheelchair users.
Take to the waves with jet boating
Most cities have jet boating experiences, often just a little out from the city centre. Travel James Bond style through iconic buildings and get an exhilarating rush together for building shared team memories.
Great for: Enjoying an adrenaline packed activity, despite physical mobility concerns.
Think about: Accessibility of the boats and travel to and from the jet boating location.
Virtual cheese and wine tasting
Let everyone stay in the comfort of their own home and indulge in a cheese and wine tasting evening. Boxes of taste kits are sent out to attendees in advance. On the evening, everyone calls in together and is guided through the tasting experience by an expert.
Great for: including those with social anxiety, by enabling them to join in without the pressure of going out. Excellent for those with physical mobility limitations.
Think about: Check out allergies and avoid for recovering alcoholics.
Board game bonanza
Whether you head to a board game café or make use of your office premises, a board game session is excellent for team building. Choose a variety of games which develop skills such as strategy and forward-planning, but which of course also focus on collaboration and good old-fashioned fun.
Great for: Accessible corporate team building events for doing onsite.
Think about: Ensure you’ve given thought to the location of the games and that tables are accessible to wheelchair users.
Grubs up with a meal out
Sometimes the classics are the best when it comes to creating the best team building events. Planning for the whole team to get together and head for a meal out can be all that’s needed for bonding and building the team.
Great for: Planning an event which can be flexible right up until the last minute.
Think about: Think about allergies and dietary requirements. Consider how everyone will get there. Choose quieter venues for those with anxiety.
Hit the target with archery
Often physical activities need to be automatically discounted when it comes to those with accessibility needs. However, archery can easily be adapted to make it an accessible physical activity, especially for wheelchair users. In the process, there’s the competitive element that helps teams to thrive, and everyone loves the challenge of trying to hit the bullseye.
Great for: Planning a team building event that is active but still accessible.
Think about: Check out the accessibility requirements of your attendees and then liaise with the provider.
The best team building events are always accessible events which have been shaped around the unique needs of the team. Make sure that everyone is included, so that your team building events bring about the benefits you’re after.