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I'm working to help plan a team building event at my workplace. Having seen that while independent companies can do a great, slick, team building event, they can also be both expensive and hit or miss if the event isn't paired well with the team. I'm looking for ideas on lower-budget events that can be run by people who aren't trained team building/moderation professionals (think, a budget that covers a small Staples run, not a budget that covers a downpayment on a condo!).
I want it to be productive but also somewhat fun. Typical caveats about keeping it professional and within the bounds of ethics in terms of inclusion, sexual appropriateness, etc are required.
In our particular case, the group has grown phenomenally in recent years. Less than 5 years ago, we may have been around 20 people, we are currently budgeting at around 70, and we have more openings. We've had some attrition, and morale is mixed - replacement of lost workers means that I'd venture a guess and say 1/3 of the department has been here more than 3 years.
So the hot topic for team building is a mix of "getting to know you" and giving people a lower pressure chance to connect across the department. The undercurrent being that it's certainly time for us to start growing our culture to incorporate the larger dynamic - there's no easy way to survive growing pains, and a team event certainly isn't a magical answer - but it could be a step in the right direction.
Folks on the team are smart, dedicated and highly technical working in jobs that involve a fairly high degree of social interaction (we're an IT group). Key to the group's identity is that we're a high performing department that can band together and get some pretty amazing things done. Being a happy crew of geeks, we do have access to plenty of laptops, a nice conference room with projectors and other nice equipment, and enough talent around here to do some nice tech stuff.
What type of event or suite of events that would fit the bill for this goal? Describe in detail.
Comments reminded me to clarify - I have space reserved for the day in a conference room. Although the idea of (say) a baseball game, might be good - we have settled on a location at this point that prohibits certain activities. We do have access to a roof deck, so we could consider potato guns or launching cream pies at offending nearby office buildings, but security may disapprove.
Also - there is food and a separate budget covering it. I'm not trying to get help planning the logistics of the entire event here - I have a space, a day, food, and other people are working travel and so forth for out of town team members. This question was specifically "What activities will work for this context and purpose". I love the idea of ongoing things - like weekly activities, but that's not quite hitting the purpose of the question.