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Heat warning for outdoor team building events

With a hot summer around the corner be sure that your people will thank you for a great conference team build, and not curse you for being pointlessly fried under a baking sun.

Outdoor team building options can be great fun, but during the summer months potential exposure to heat needs to be taken seriously.

Seems like common sense, but there are many instances of decision-makers and event planners falling in love with a particular activity format and failing to properly take weather and safety into account.

A simple 3 point reality check for decision-makers can be done:

1. Look at B.O.M average temperature statistics for that location and date.

2. Give serious thought to the physical resilience levels and attitudes of the group to physical challenges.

3. Seriously ask yourself, in a worst case scenario for temperature "will they enjoy or benefit from prolonged exposure to heat?".

An outdoor format may sound great in the planning stages from the comfort of an air-conditioned room, especially if heading to a picturesque location. It pays to remember that participants frying in summer heat on the day will rapidly turn any event into a nightmare.

For office workers who may spend a great deal of their time in indoor air-conditioned spaces, outdoor exposure on a hot summer day can cause morale to flag, and even risk people’s health with dehydration and heat stroke.

Hours of an Amazing Race format, or being stuck on a lawn or open space with no shade on a hot day can genuinely hit some people harder than others. Taking this into account for your least physically resilient people is a professional necessity we feel.

Exposing people deliberately to adverse physical conditions may be justified in organisations such as the military where physical resilience is tested as a job requirement, but rarely if ever in business and government events is this justifiable. Unless people are reliably 'outdoor resilient', exposure to heat can be potentially debilitating.

On some occasions we have had to refuse an enthusiastic or hung ho client's requests for a purely outdoor team building format in notoriously hot locations and months. The damage to professional reputation, neglecting their duty of care to their own people and and even possible litigation from poor choices far outweigh any short term expediency to simply please a manager.

The focus for any standard conference or off-site event should be genuine participant safety and comfort. There are very few exceptions to this, and where these occur a massive amount of thinking and planning needs to underpin both the why and the how.

For the vast majority of events adequate shade, and minimal exposure to severe heat needs to be taken seriously. If shade, water and periodic breaks from direct sun and heat are not available, then indoor options are a far safer call.

A professional provider should know their own formats, and if suitable locations are not available that offer sufficient shade or cover, then delegate comfort and safety must override the desire to press on with an attractive activity format.

If common sense and advice about locations and reasonable time limits for any heat exposure are ignored you are very likely to pay dearly for it on the day.


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