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It’s Not Work on the Wall: But it is Working

Updated: Aug 16, 2022

I’ve been to my fair share of corporate ‘team building’ events in my time. Ranging from (one-too-many) drinks on the Yarra to enforced yoga to bizarre karaoke to a board room meeting ‘idea potato mash’ – where we’re locked in a room until creativity and camaraderie strikes (catered!) – sounds amazing right?

The idea of team building with your workmates, especially when it feels forced, can highlight the unavoidable: “we’re all different personalities with different ideas of what constitutes enjoyment and (comfort zone parameters) and the only reason we’re here together is because we work for the same company.” So, if you’re running a team or simply part of one and wish to ‘team build’ further – where to next?

What are you and your team looking for? A mental boost? To hone critical thinking skills? Idea sharing? To work on the age old and very important: decision making?

You can boil down ‘decision making’ to the constant and daily question we all make, regardless of career, which is: ‘this or that’. When repeated day in, day out, ‘this or that’ decisions can be mentally taxing, especially when you have to find data, collate materials and write reports on how and why you came to your decision.

‘This or that’ on the wall, can mean ‘hand here, or there’, ‘foot here, or there’. You assess the problem, make the move, and either fall or move up. It’s simple, almost primal, and a welcome change from the usual decisions being made which come with exterior pressure and scrutiny. On the wall, you’re thinking on your feet and making micro decisions by the skin of your fingertips (figuratively and literally) – great mental skills to have in front of the computer, at the design board, at home or hanging off a cliff.

Returning to the office may have resulted in you sitting in one chair for the bulk of the day.

Watching my husband work from home, I witness him move from room to room, chair to chair. He get’s in a lot of walking, standing, stretching – all while working – and during lockdowns the home/office also became a place for hang-boards and keeping up with finger strength while waiting for code to compile. If you and your workmates have found the office chair a little restrictive to your daily movement, then a bouldering session is sure to get every part of you stretched, warm, moving and utilised again – important for anyone over 30 who have realised it’s all downhill from here…

So many of your key muscles come into play when climbing; the lats, ab muscles, forearms flexors, quadriceps – the list goes on, all the way down to your fingers which have been typing away all day but long for greater heights!

Let’s also take a moment to talk about wellness too. Not just mental strengthening or physical health, but wellness.

I’m not always in the mood to do a deep dive into a negative thought in order to nut out the underlaying problem and resolve it peacefully within my busy mind. God – is anyone?! Nor am I really ever in the mood for the dreaded ‘run’. Just go for a run, you’ll feel great. No I bloody won’t. You know what makes me feel well? When I don’t have to think about a hundred things at once. When I don’t have to be in two places at once. When I have something special to focus on. I can clear my mind. I can use my body to hold myself up, not always other (tiny) people. I can achieve a little personal win – something that as a new-ish mum I’m trying to do at least once everyday and not always succeeding.

A bit of bouldering. That’s wellness to me, which is why I’m plugging it to you (I wouldn’t be otherwise). And not just you, but your work wife, your manager, your team, the whole crew in fact!

Getting the team together outside the office (or at all, if you’re all working remotely) will help with communications in and outside of work. More conversations happen when you’re not restricted to Teams chats or Slack channels. Instead of talking about a deadline, talk about the crux of a climb that has you all stumped – problem solve that shit together because you can guarantee it’ll make the problem you all have solve at work the next day a more open and constructive conversation. There’s opportunity for feedback, encouragement and cooperation: making bouldering the pretty perfect sport for ‘team building’.

If you’re not convinced, I suppose you could all join a co-ed netball team. I was roped into that once. It happened at a specific time, every week, once a week. You had to wear a uniform (which you paid for), provide a ref, forfeit fees if not enough people turned up… the list (of reasons this was awful) goes on. Get your work crew together for something which you can do at a time which suits you all. For a length of time that is appropriate for that space between ‘work/life’ – where a ‘team building’ excursion to a bouldering gym would sit. Wear what works for you, come as many times as you like, mix up the crew that attends and realise it’s actually the best bloody thing you can be doing for your mind and body that you come back on the weekend by yourself – because you can and it’s not a shitty work netball team.

Put a little trust, communication and wellness into a ‘team building’ exercise. Give it a soul and call it what it is: building a bond through bouldering.

Sara Best

Corporate world escapee, limited ball skills, Bouldering enthusiast.

Check out Boulder Project’s Corporate Group Packages here for discounted pricing, gear inclusions, private sessions and dedicated coaching staff.

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