Virtual Events for Teams
The pandemic changed the way we all work by shifting teams (and even entire companies) online. While some work is back to being in-person, it seems that remote work is here to stay.
When video meetings start and end on a schedule, there is little time for the connection that might normally occur within an office environment - the “water cooler talk”, chatting in the cafeteria, or a quick convo in the hallway.
So how can these human connections (aka team building) occur when we’re all behind screens?
By having an online painting event with a focus on fun and creativity, everyone on the team can share and express themselves in a way that may be different from their daily role at work. Through painting, the playing field is leveled and everyone is able to explore and learn a new skill while spending time getting to know their colleagues in a different light.
When Boehringer-Ingelheim gathered their team of 35 in August of 2020 for an online painting event, the results were outstanding. Each person was given the artistic license to create a unique painting that related back to the team’s core values and work that they do. Instructions and example images for inspiration were provided as well as individual guidance as questions arose. The team talked, shared their ideas, and in the end they had collaborated in creating art that would be displayed as a unified installation at their office.
In 2021, Themo Fisher’s team gathered online from all over the world to follow a guided painting that related back to their team’s theme of Orchestration. The piece was a creative twist on sheet music and made for a decorative addition to each person’s home office as well as being a reminder of their time connecting socially.
For every team, painting kits are sent out in advance so there’s no stress in tracking down materials. A custom webpage is also created with easy-to-follow instructions for setting up the painting station and joining the online event. A painting activity is a wonderful way to unite the team through a virtual team building event!
Some teams intentionally create work for their office space that represents their company’s values or as a memory of their time spent together being creative.
The team bonding experience is important but if the team (or an individual) chooses not to keep their final painting, they can be donated to local organizations to bring a little cheer and color to the space.
This allows for a fun team building experience while also providing something to those who would otherwise not prioritize spending money on artwork for their walls. Corporate to Canvas donates art to organizations that help youth in transitional homes, foster programs, and nursing homes / elder care facilities - we're also happy to donate to an organization the team chooses.
Studies show that color can evoke emotions and imagery can influence mood. For individuals who may be experiencing some struggles, having artwork in their space may help to lighten their spirit.
In some instances, paintings that are being donated may be touched up. First, all the sides (and bottom) are painted so the painting looks complete when it is hanging on the wall. Painting the canvas on the sides of the wooden stretchers not only gives the painting a modern look, but also saves from having to frame it. Other touch ups may include cleaning up drips or paints that got “muddy” or mixed together. Since we use acrylic paint, it can be touched up easily once the paint has tried from the event!
In other instances, paintings are donated to a local independent art school for students to paint over and learn new skills. They always appreciate the materials and opportunity to improve their abstract paintings.
Most companies I’ve worked value giving back to their community. If they don't keep their art as a decoration and memory of their event, donating it is a wonderful way to bring the team together while also supporting others!
Hybrid Team Building Activities
With teams mixed between in-person and remote, hybrid team building events are an ideal way to connect everyone.
Back in October of 2020, Corporate to Canvas was one of the first to pioneer the hybrid model. While social distancing, masking, and sanitizing was just starting to allow folks to come back to the office in-person, there were still many team members working remotely.
When BlueNalu reached out for a hybrid event, their new warehouse space was ideal for social distancing. Desks were spread out and all precautions were taken to carry out a safe event. This included the option for also joining the team online for the event.
The activity was a collaborative mural, which consisted of 30 individual canvases connected to form one big painting - the biggest one to date! Prior to the event, materials were sent to those who were remote, then they connect through Zoom to join the team.
Once the remote paintings were returned, the mural was assembled and the 6 foot by 5 foot painting hangs in their office as a true representation of their teamwork.
Zego also had two team building events and one of those was hybrid since not everyone was going into the office. The technical setup and proper facilitation of a hybrid event includes everyone and connects the team. The final paintings incorporated their personal touches and were a true representation of the unique qualities that make up the team.
Hybrid events can also include multiple in-person locations or branches that are all joining online for the painting activity. The instructor may be at one location, or the event can be held entirely online. A silver lining of the pandemic is that we have now seemed to embrace this new connectivity, and through hybrid events, everyone can be included in team activities!
Kimball Willson is a professional artist and the founder of Corporate to Canvas.