In the era of the virtual office, when even workers who are physically present often wall off their senses with oversized headphones and rely on Slack to chat with colleagues sitting in desks next to them, forced fun at the corporate level may represent the last, best hope for human interaction among co-workers who would otherwise remain the closest of strangers.
“I can’t think of anything more depressing than an office where no one actually talks to each other,” said Lois Najarian O’Neill, a founder of the Door Idea House, a public relations and branding agency in New York who mandates a no-phone, no-screen policy at her company’s midweek overnight outings to Montauk or the Catskills. “Our retreat is our saving grace.”
Even so, company mixers and retreats come with plenty of baggage. Do a Google search on the term “office outings,” and even some "booster-ish" articles come with defensive-sounding headlines. One article in the Muse, a career site, titled “22 Team-Building Activities Your Co-Workers Won’t Hate (We Promise),” offers suggestions such as a ropes-course outing (sorry, tied up that day), an improv comedy class (surely that was once an episode of The Office) or an “escape room” challenge (which to most employees involved probably sounds like a capital idea).
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