The Productivity Playground: Team Fun For Purpose & Profit

Post by
Devin Alldrit
The Productivity Playground: Team Fun For Purpose & Profit

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People change jobs like they change cars nowadays: every few years at most. It used to be you were seen as a flake or liability, someone with a productivity problem, if you changed jobs often, and having ‘a job for life’ was something people bragged about. Those days are gone, and probably not coming back. Just like too many employees.

It’s been found that 89% of employers thought people left for more money, when in fact only 12% did. A true push-factor was company culture, or its lack thereof. It wasn’t fun and they didn’t feel they fit. Companies with engaged employees pull in 2.5 times the revenue of those that don’t, with employees being 87% less likely to leave. So any business that cares about its bottom line—surely that’s all businesses?—had better change its formula.

What’s the winning formula? Team-building activities improve company culture, increasing employee engagement, leading to greater productivity, profitability, and stability, making teams happier and culture stronger. The very opposite of a vicious circle.

Company culture can take time to create or change, and you may not have it. But team-building activities can turbo-charge a shared culture, if designed and delivered optimally, whether the workplace is physically shared or remote. Fun isn’t just for fun anymore. Here’s how three companies have leveraged team-strengthening events and games to strengthen their success.


This company developed the HubSpot CRM and is a digital marketing changemaker. Employer review website Glassdoor deems it one of the top places to work due to its culture of shared problem-solving, transparency, values, and investment in its people. The firm sees itself as creating two products: one for external customers and the other, culture, for employees.

HubSpot is always exploring ways to make employees and teams feel connected, celebrated, and encouraged. Key creative initiatives have been:

  • HubTalks, their version of TEDTalks, through which expertise from inside and outside the company is shared, and inspiration and productivity elevated.
  • The Healthy @ HubSpot programme delivers wellbeing workshops, fitness classes, and free juice Mondays, giving people within and across teams another way to learn with and about each other. More health means increased productivity. They also offer free Master Classes in a variety of skills for this purpose.
  • There are a huge variety of other team-building activities at HubSpot, which they share with the world as part of their commitment to transparency: cook-offs, Escape Rooms, and many more. One favourite is Mystery Dinners: people from different teams are sent for dinner, hosted by a leader and paid for by the company. They only know a time and date beforehand, and learn the venue last-minute. It’s a great way to develop cohesiveness in the company team more broadly, and fosters innovation and transparency.


An ever-expanding leader in cloud-based sales enablement software, Salesforce counts Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) among the most important values in its culture. So team-building often takes the form of volunteering or other community engagement.

Each employee receives 56 paid hours to give time and skills to causes that are important to them alongside colleagues. Salesforce calls this not ‘team-building’ but ‘team-bonding’.

It’s not all CRS. Other activities include robot building and battles, scavenger hunts, customer role-playing scenarios, and quizzes. What these have in common is they’re fun but not futile: they connect to people’s roles and skills individually and as a team, strengthening camaraderie, communication, and common purpose as well as personal development and productivity.


There’s probably a remote tribe somewhere that hasn’t heard of Zoom, but then again they might be having a video conference call with another remote tribe right this minute. The video communication provider believes there is no business success without great company culture, and team activities and events are part of the strategy for ensuring this. Their super-high review percentages on Glassdoor and with Forbes are the proof in the pudding.

The central value at Zoom is Happiness, and there is a team dedicated purely to that at each location, who do it as part of their nominal job, however senior they might be. The ‘happiness crew’ organises and coordinates celebrations, events, and volunteering opportunities which both increase individual happiness and grow team cohesion and collaboration.

Team-building starts with on-boarding at Zoom: the week of orientation brings new hires from different locations together, giving them a sense of being in a wider team from the beginning; that onboarding includes company culture. Once back at their own office, new hires are guests at a company breakfast so everyone can welcome their new team member.

Zoom encourages an event called Bring Your Parent To Work Day, which humanises colleagues in a wonderful way. There are all-hands quarterly meetings at which people are recognised for contributions by other team members, boosting morale and emotional investment, inspiring peers, and making people feel their contributions are valued, so that they continue to give more.

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How can we be sure that the creative team-focussed activities these world-renowned companies work so hard to implement contribute to their success? It’s the speed and size of the success that’s the real giveaway.

Companies which grow that much, that fast, are in danger of breaking apart and failing without dedicated employees delivering high and high quality productivity within a strong, virtuous culture. They built teams that could withstand the change, risk, and growth required to succeed, rather than becoming victims of that success. Their cultures are recruiting tools, which attract the best talent, and creative team activities help to keep them there.

As the people at HubSpot say, you’re going to have a company culture of some sort no matter what, so you might as well work together to make it great.