Planning to organise a team building event for your staff? Have you ever thought about combining your event with your company’s social responsibility programme and organise a team building aimed at helping one of your local charities.

At Voxbone we did just that and enjoyed a great team experience with a real return for our efforts. Five bedrooms at the home for children in central Brussels ‘la Maison d’Enfants Reine Marie-Henriette’ also known as la Flèche were renovated, repainted, and redecorated in fresh colours by the Voxbone staff.

In the beginning of 2014, when writing the internal communication plan for the year, I included a proposal to organise a team event with a charitable objective. The goal with the event was to bring my colleagues together in a new environment; appoint team leads that were different from the office, and create an activity where we would work together to accomplish a goal with an explicit value. In short, create an event where we could experience all the advantages of a traditional team building event but with the added benefit of working towards a concrete result with a clear solution to a defined need.

During summer I contacted a few different charity organisations around Brussels, and the home for children in central Brussels; la Flèche, came back to me with a concrete proposal. Together we worked out a project plan for our team building event that would provide them with the help they so badly needed, whilst challenging us to achieve an ambitious team project: During five days repair, repaint and redecorate five bedrooms at the Gai Logis.

As a team building event the set-up was perfect. Not only would each team have to work together to ensure their day’s work was properly done, but each team was also interdependent on the other teams. If one team failed, it would affect the work of the next team, if communication between teams wasn’t clear, the work might not be done in the right order. The goal was set; the five bedrooms looked gloomy and sad and we needed to transform them into warm, welcoming cocoons for the 12 children residing there.

La Flèche decided on the colours for the rooms, and managed to find a sponsor for a part of the paint required. From our side the preparatory work included a site-visit together with the appointed team leads, shopping for tools and repair materials, as well as planning the different tasks for the week. Working together, preparing for the work ahead, proved to be very efficient as each person had good ideas and solutions to the many challenges that came with the task.

On October 27th the first team set out to prepare the five rooms for the repair and paint work to be done. Furniture was moved and covered, everything that shouldn’t be painted was taped over, and fittings were removed from doors that needed to be sanded. As we realised that one room had humidity problems, an anti-humidity product was added to the shopping list and instructions passed on to the next team. On Tuesday morning the children left their residency for an excursion so, luckily, they never had to hear all the noise, or see all the dust from the team that plastered, sanded and repaired walls and doors in their rooms. As the dust settled the Wednesday team arrived and started the paint work. Ensuring that every wall got the right colour, that every area was painted with a first cover, they passed on the bucket to the Thursday team that finished all the paintwork down to the last stroke. Friday, the last day of our team project, the rooms needed to be cleaned, all furniture and fixtures put back in place, and last but not least the rooms needed to be decorated. For a small budget, mats, quilt covers, mirrors and fun cushions were bought and delivered to the residency. The result was truly amazing: The five rooms were transformed from drab and glum looking rooms to brightly coloured, cosy nests for the children.

The direction of la Maison d’Enfants Reine Marie-Henriette is delighted with the results – the rooms are unrecognisable, and the quality of the work holds professional standard. But their positive feedback was not only about the result of our work, they were also amazed by the team spirit they saw, the positive energy, and the efficient organisation.

And for Voxbone, how does this compare to a regular team building event? Out of an organiser’s viewpoint there is no doubt about it; albeit that the work involved to organise the event is much more demanding there are clear advantages. There are no expensive facilitator fees, no cost for renting a location for the day, but more importantly – to have a charitable goal clearly increases the value to the participants. Everyone who participated, put their heart into it and worked hard to create the best possible end result. To cover for lost hours in the office enthusiastic team members even worked extra hours at night to catch up with their regular work in order to be able to participate. The work was executed with excellence and the quality that is Voxbone’s signum was without doubt visible in the outcome.

For a team building event to be truly successful it also needs to continue and be kept alive even after the last drop of paint has dried. Back in the office, a Movember action was initiated to collect money towards the organisation. Money raised is now over 300 EUR and still counting… We look forward to follow la Maison d’Enfants Reine Marie-Henriette and their future projects seeing how our raised money is put to good use. And we hope to return next year for another day of renovation, repairing or working together on whatever project that might need our help.

Ps. If you are living in Brussels and plan to buy a Christmas tree – support la Flèche and enjoy a pesticide free tree by buying it from Noël pour tous.

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