Shrinking classrooms and developing work skills

There’s a (rare) joke in the corporate responsibility world:

Q. Why are classrooms getting smaller?

A. Because of all the corporate volunteers re-painting the walls every week.

Not exactly Oscar Wilde, but it does make an important point as employee volunteers should never do work that’s not necessary and team challenges should be, well, challenging.

Team volunteering can certainly be done better, but I worry that there’s a danger of losing an important volunteering driver if we focus exclusively on individual opportunities and skills-based volunteering. There needs to be a blend of activity and going out as a group is a great way of getting new volunteers started, lifting morale and building stronger teams.

Last week, at TimeBank, we piloted a new team challenge model which met a clear community need and developed business skills while retaining the team bonding and fun elements. As ever, there will be tweaks, but the feedback’s been overwhelmingly positive from all parties.

So, what did we do?

We decorated a classroom and, frankly, it was a bit smaller after we finished! However, this was a bit different, because:-

  • Our team of volunteers from Nectar worked with the children to brainstorm ideas for a creative and inspiring reading environment.
  • A group of the volunteers went out in the community “apprentice-style” to find extra materials to help realise the children’s ideas.
  • They worked to a tight deadline to make sure that the project was finished on the day and children could see the results.

This was all possible during a fast-moving half day that had something for everyone. From the company point of view, it was great to see that skills as diverse as empathy and planning were developed. Creative minds had plenty to keep them busy, while project managers and negotiators also had a role to play.

Do  get in touch if you are interested in skills-based team building – we’ve plenty more ideas in the pipeline!