Companies are always looking for new and more effective ways to increase their employees’ productivity and building morale and camaraderie. Employers have a strong desire to create workplace environments that make people excited to work there. As a result, the act of taking the employees out of the office for a little bit of team building has become a very big part of workplace culture.

An offsite team building event can include many different kinds of outings. On one end of the spectrum is the relaxed, laid back day out, intended to relieve stress and provide entertainment for employees. These kinds of outings include trips to the bowling alley, museum or theater, the zoo and restaurants. However, competitive events that require employees to team up to achieve a goal are becoming increasingly popular. These can include obstacle course races, paintball, scavenger hunts, go-kart races and escape rooms. Employers see this kind of team building event as a way to both boost morale and improve valuable workplace skills such as leadership, communication and problem solving.

The rise in popularity of these events is due in part to employers recognizing the value in having a staff that can work together and are happy, according to Susan Lagarde, special events coordinator at Dave & Buster’s in Phoenix. Lagarde has coordinated company team-building events ranging from ten to 250 people, and boasts that Dave and Buster’s is the originator of the corporate team builder.

“I think with the stress and the constant push for people to do good and do better, they’re placing the greater emphasis back on their workforce and the people,” Lagarde said. “They realize that when their people are happy, they’re productive. And they’re productive because they can work together.”

Most corporate team-building events are staged by professionals and are elaborate and designed to challenge employees to work together. The event organizers specifically focus on events that require employees to work as a team and overcome obstacles in order to solve problems. In addition, the event organizers take into account the culture and atmosphere of the particular company, according to Lee Vikre, consulting partner at BestCompaniesAZ, an Arizona-based consulting and promotional services firm that identifies, develops and promotes best companies.

“The focus of the activity, the level of personal interaction, physical or psychological risk, creativity and physicality should be shaped by the company’s culture,” Vikre said. “The person planning the event needs to be very in touch with the company culture.”

Occasionally, companies will also take the opportunity to combine their own team building needs with philanthropy and community service. This is the case with Habitat for Humanity, who put on “TeamBuild with Purpose,” an event created for businesses to build camaraderie and also make a positive impact in the Valley.

Jason Barlow, president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona, believes that working together to help the community is the best way to team build. “(Habitat for Humanity’s) team-builds create an immediate and tangible difference in a neighborhood and for those participating,” Barlow said. “The experience stays with the individual for years because they can drive by at a later date, point to their handywork and say, ‘I helped build that.’ It’s gratifying, really.”

Other popular companies organizing team building events in the Phoenix area include One Day Adventures, Octane Raceway, Escape the Room AZ and Western Destinations.