Planning a corporate team building session for your organisation? The first question that you’ll need to answer is: to plan it in-house, or just leave it to the experts (an external vendor)? We’ve done some of the homework for you and have listed here some of the yays as well as the nays on either side of the coin.

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CONSIDERATIONS OF HAVING IN-HOUSE TEAM BUILDING

PROS:

1. Save $$$

This depends, of course, on how elaborate your programme is, but in MOST cases, planning team-building activities in-house will result in cost savings. You skip the overhead costs which will need to be covered with an external vendor and rely on your own staff instead. If you have staff members with special talents in planning fun activities, why not tap on their existing skills? Who knows, you might even discover some unexpected talents in your organisation!

 2. Closer alignment with your company’s visions

 YOU understand the unique culture and needs of your department or organisation best. Programmes by external vendors generally follow a set template with some degree of customisation which may or may not include additional costs. By planning your own event, you get to include these “extra ingredients” easily. Goals and direction from your management can also be more easily weaved into the programme when it is planned in-house.

3. Room for creativity

An in-house planned event is an opportunity to think out-of-the-box and do something that can’t be replicated anywhere else! DIY means that you aren’t confined by the “traditional” types of team-building activities and it could be an opportunity to try something new, while including the key messages that need to be delivered to your staff. The effect that a very special in-house programme has on your staff could be priceless, especially with the knowledge that “We did it ourselves!”. Do note, however, that the more elaborate your programme gets, whatever you save in terms of money by keeping it in-house would translate into more man-hours taken in planning and execution.

 

CONS:

1. Feels like another day in the office

Unless you’re investing a huge budget in decorations and literally turning your office into Disneyland, the typical in-house team-building day tends to feel like another day in the office. The “fun day” feeling tends to be reduced to an extent as compared to heading out for activities. You may get staff members who can’t put work aside and head back to their cubicles to send emails, or, worse still, those who just aren’t interested in the programme and decide to park themselves at their workstations with the excuse of “urgent work”.

2. Lacks the feeling of novelty

Regardless of how special it is, an in-house programme can’t avoid the perspective that it is still run by “our own people”. Staff members who can’t get past the fact that they’re still in the hands of colleagues whom they see every day may enjoy the programme to a much lesser extent. Engaging an external vendor puts your department in fresh hands and adds a feeling of novelty to the session which DIY simply can’t give.

3. Lack of experience in running the programme

Unless your company specialises in team-building events (which would then make it REALLY like another day in the office), your staff members in charge of the programme likely have little or no experience in running such activities. Especially if it’s a new activity being done for the first time, your team would have little knowledge of things that could go wrong, which could spell disaster if the programme involves members of higher management, or if the number of staff present is large. Not to mention the extra stress for the planning team amidst multi-tasking with their existing workload.

4. Paid staff need to spend time planning

This should be a no-brainer, but time taken to plan in-house team-building activities means time taken away from the core tasks that your staff members are PAID to do. If all goes well, your event team would manage to pull off a stellar programme without compromising on their work. However, in many cases, especially in busy seasons, this could either mean hours of overtime, or the decision to plan a far less than spectacular programme in order not to compromise on time allocated for paid work.

5. Organising team doesn’t get to enjoy the event

After spending weeks or even months working on the grand plan for the day’s programme, every detail of the day will be etched into the brains of your organising team members. No surprises. That’s absolutely necessary for the successful execution of your programme, but it also means that the element of fun in the day’s activities will be very, very much reduced for your organising team members. It’s simply part of the job. However, with an external vendor taking over the job, your organising team can let their hair down and enjoy the activities as well – which is what the day is all about!

 

CONSIDERATIONS OF HAVING AN EXTERNAL VENDOR

PROS:

1. Less hassle. Leave it to the pros. Period.

Engaging an external vendor for team-building activities saves you and your team the extra work. All you and your staff members need to do is simply show up. Also, unlike a self-planned programme, your planning team wouldn’t have every detail of the activity already in their heads, and hence be able to enjoy the activity as well!

 2. Novelty

 Hoping to finally try out that awesome team-building activity that your friends in other organisations have raving reviews about? Well, do it! The keyword here is NOVELTY. A sense of novelty excites your staff members and sets the tone for the day’s activities. Don’t forget that they are already going back to the same grind and facing the same people EVERY OTHER WORKING DAY OF THE YEAR. Nothing beats a breath of fresh air to liven up the spirits of your staff, especially in the midst of busy workloads.

 3. Programme has been tried and tested

 Vendors which specialise in team-building activities literally live and breathe team-building. Having run their programmes for many other organisations like yours, everything that could go wrong has likely gone wrong before. There is much, much less uncertainty as compared to running your own programme, and your focus can be channelled towards working with the vendor to build on what they already have and customise the programme according your organisation’s needs.

 4. Logistics handled by vendor

This is an often overlooked but nonetheless HUGE advantage of outsourcing ANY major event, let alone team-building activities which often involve equipment and other logistics considerations which your organisation may not be equipped with. Logistics matters might just be the biggest headache for your event and with that completely taken care of by the vendor, you essentially have nothing left to worry about.

 5. Less likelihood of unpleasant surprises 

 Vendors are required to give detailed quotations right from the beginning of your planning process. Hence, you can work things out right down to the tee according to your organisation’s needs before the wheels start turning. When planning your own in-house programme, however, you are essentially piecing together a programme for the first time and unforeseen costs may result in “surprises”.

 

CONS:

Less control over programme

WIth an external team-building vendor, you’re basically putting your entire programme in their hands. As with working together with ANYONE for the first time, there is a likelihood of friction where the vendor’s set way of carrying out events may not align your organization’s goals and direction for the session. This could result in “surprises” during the execution of the programme. There is also a smaller degree of flexibility as compared to an in-house event due to the fact that adjustments to the programme are less easily made once the programme starts running. However, good communication and working very closely with vendor especially in the planning stage would help to smooth out such rough edges. In some cases, this dynamic could even be positive, where your team gets to learn something new from how the vendor does things, which you may not have thought of on your own.

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