Working life

Colleagues going for an after-work drink is a common sight in the UK and Ireland.Spending free time with work buddies can help you bond.

IN MANY countries, it is common for colleagues to hang out over after-work beers, go on group holidays or attend cultural events together. In the UK and Ireland, for example, going to the pub round the corner for a pint with your workmates is a normal way to end a hard working day.

However, spending leisure time with colleagues is unusual in Finland. The separation of work and private life is greater here than in many other European countries. Based on theories of team building, companies are seeking to encourage their employees to engage in activities together. Not only can they strengthen bonds between colleagues, they are often great fun as well – even more when trying out new things.

Company-internal tournaments allow employees to play while adding competitive and teambuilding elements. Whether competing outdoors at football, basketball or frisbee golf, or indoors at table football or bowling, there is a broad range of activities that can improve morale and fitness.

Back to nature

Sports and outdoor activities offer many ways to have a great time together. Geocaching – a modern way of treasure hunting, using GPS to find hidden boxes with items left by others – has been around for some years now and is still growing in popularity. Teams usually have to solve a riddle in order to get the right coordinates for the treasure and thus, geocaching encourages colleagues to work as a team. The tasks can be found on the official website and are often linked to sights or events that happened on the treasure spot.

Finland’s natural environment is a treasure for outdoor fans. Outdoor bouldering is a nice way to test one’s limits, although people suffering from vertigo had better stick to other activities. The lakes are perfect for canoeing. Together with your colleagues, it’s even more fun.

Laser tag has experienced a revival after the success of TV series “How I Met Your Mother” – with good reason. Participants get together in teams and try to “tag” opponents with laser guns in a dimly-lit, maze-like setting. Coordinating with each other and using good tactics is vital to winning this fast-paced game.

Garden fun for everyone

Industrial psychologists have found that a company garden, which can serve as a relaxing spot for lunch breaks as well as for after-work barbecues or even for welcoming business partners, is a good way to help strengthen social bonds, especially in smaller enterprises. It helps people relax during the stressful workday, and even brings the joy of harvesting fruit and vegetables that the team has planted together.

Classic Finnish ways to spend time together include barbecues and sauna, karaoke nights and ice-skating on frozen lakes in the winter. Or how about an action-filled afternoon spent in Linnanmäki, Helsinki’s fun park located just north of the city centre?

However, the core element of shared free time with work buddies is that it should be completely voluntary. Different people have different approaches on how much they want to socialise with their colleagues. This should always be respected – compulsory participation might have the reverse effect to the originally intended goal.