New e-teambuilding concepts on the uptake in Asia-Pacific

A crop of new teambuilding formats held online has begun to flourish as companies in Asia-Pacific adjust to telecommuting and scramble for new ways to connect their local, regional and global employees.

These innovative concepts include online team karaoke, virtual reality (VR) challenges, and virtual scavenger hunts, which are seeing increasing take-up in Asia-Pacific as more companies in the region have been forced to close their physical premises.

For instance, Wildfire Entertainment has branched out from its initial corporate event entertainment services to launch Lockdown Karaoke, an activity where employees can harmonise on a ‘live’ virtual performance, which will then be produced into a music video.

The concept is a spin-off from another product by Wildfire Entertainment and Musicland, Many Voices One Team, typically offered for three-day conferences featuring a recording booth and a final music video at the conference’s close.

Chelsea Curto, business director at Wildfire Entertainment, shared: “Our long-time friends at Usana Health Science Services have started the process with us. In lieu of entertainment at their event in South Korea in May – which was cancelled – Lockdown Karaoke will feature heavily in their virtual replacement event.

“We are working with a bank in Singapore to produce a video and ‘live’ virtual event in May, while several clients in Australia are in talks to put something together at the end of April. It seems that this is an idea that resonates with people.”

Debuted when global travel restrictions were first announced was Asia Ability’s cross-border VR teambuilding concept The Infinite Loop+, in which a company’s teams in Singapore and New Zealand collaborated on a VR puzzle by communicating via video conferencing.

“The communication issues and challenges highlighted by the activity were incredibly relevant and valuable to this client. (They saw) the need to break the silo and inertia, the need to reach out to initiate collaboration, and the value of frequently ‘checking in’ on partners,” shared David Fotheringham, director of Asia Ability.

As offices shift to telecommuting, Asia Ability’s programmes are “now geared at completely remote work settings, with participants joining in from their home workspace”, he described.

The first of such programmes launched in Singapore is Go Remote, an app-based platform that gives participants a collection of active and creative challenges conducted in and around their working spaces. One new challenge is titled Race Around the World, where breakout teams must guide their explorers on a virtual journey across the world, spending travel tokens and earning enjoyment tokens along the way. It is paired with teleconferencing breakout sessions that encourage team interactions and a facilitated review after the session.

Fotheringham noted: “We have been approached for remote events by a number of clients from telecommunications to banking to medical, and their objectives are strikingly similar – bringing teams together in this time of crisis.

“On top of the anxiety and discomfort caused by pandemic, the move to remote working arrangements has created instant upheaval in the workforce and our clients hope to calm nerves, strengthen relationships and build resilience in the new work dynamic.”

Curto chimed in: “It is a new idea and our clients are really only just coming to terms with the ‘new normal’ in light of the pandemic and the ways it has changed the MICE industry. This is an incredibly stressful time, but having the opportunity to relax, laugh and sing is important.

“Our clients are hoping that Lockdown Karaoke will bring their teams together and lift their spirits amid the stress of working from home and uncertainty around the virus.”

The need for virtual connection during this time will force companies to innovate and open up to new forms of technology, pushing the industry forward in the long term, said both Fotheringham and Curto.

They concurred that in the future, more companies with regional and global offices may be inclined to hold virtual conferences more often in lieu of flying. However, employees will still have the “huge need to physically connect with each other” especially once the pandemic is under control, opined Fotheringham.

“We may get better at sharing our reports though video calls, but we will still want to be together to build our relationships. Some experiences are most definitely best shared and felt in person,” he remarked.

In the meantime, Asia Ability is working with its Catalyst Global teambuilding partners on more virtual events, such as remote wellness activities, strategic business and a computer-based version of The Infinite Loop without a need for VR headsets. The company is offering a free trial in April to selected clients.

Meanwhile, Wildfire Entertainment hopes to expand its Lockdown Arts Line to include a dance version and a theatrical version, as well as exploring a make-at-home and educational workshop version of its LuMen act product, where participants can code and choreograph a dance in their own customisable luminous costumes.

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