The Top Trends in Team Building and Training for 2022

| Employee Engagement, Team Building
The Top Trends in Team Building and Training for 2022 featured image

If there’s been one theme since March of 2020, it’s been that uncertainty is the only thing we can be certain of. But as we approach the third year of the pandemic, one thing is for sure: the professional world has been irreversibly reshaped and altered. And this is shaping the team building and training and development trends and themes you can expect to see in 2022 and beyond.

As we do each year, we tapped into our in-house experts to get their insights on what’s stayed consistent from last year, what’s changed, and what’s next in the world of team building and training.

In this article, you’ll hear from:

  • Murray Seward, CEO at Outback Team Building and Training
  • Lyndon Friesen, Lead Facilitator at Ignitor Training, skill development coach, and training and development expert at Outback Team Building and Training
a group of colleagues standing together doing a team building activity

The overarching theme in team building for the coming year continues to be the acceleration of remote work and its implications on businesses, leadership, and employees.

2022 Team Building Trend #1: Hybrid Work is Here to Stay

In the past 24 months, there’s been a ton of speculation pertaining to remote and hybrid work and its viability and acceptance in the long term.

But Murray Seward, CEO at Outback Team Building and Training, believes it’s going to have a significant place in the professional world of the future.

“Remote and hybrid work isn’t going anywhere,” says Seward. “This is no longer a temporary pivot. For most companies, as long as it’s possible for a role to function remotely, I don’t see them going back to being in the office the same way they used to be. There are too many benefits to remote and hybrid work, in my opinion.”

He elaborates, “With that comes some pros and cons that organizations will have to sort out. The big and obvious one is how they’ll manage a hybrid work model. For instance, how often do people have to go into the office? Which roles can work remotely, and which can’t? There are a number of X-factors. Organizations may even need to debate between adopting a hybrid model versus a fully-remote one.”

And as remote and hybrid work becomes more prevalent, so too will the challenges with maintaining corporate culture in a distributed team.

“Working remotely puts an awful lot of pressure on company culture,” explains Seward. “It becomes harder to maintain relationships and to even just get along. You’re not gathered in a physical working environment all day, so you lack that interaction.”

He adds, “Because of this, I think you’re going to see a lot more virtual interaction and virtual team building.”

2022 Team Building and Training Trend # 2: Onboarding New Team Members Will Require More Strategy

a remote employee working away from his team and needing to be onboarded and feel part of the team

The culture challenges faced by organizations don’t stop with existing employees. They extend—possibly even more significantly—to newcomers.

“The biggest challenge pertains less to existing employees and more so to new ones,” says Seward. “It’s one thing for people who have already been at your company for years and were indoctrinated into your culture the old-school way. The harder part is the new people: how do you get them integrated into your company?

He continues, “Team building certainly helps with that, but it doesn’t detract from the fact that building inclusive teams is way more challenging in a remote environment. In the ‘old-school’ world, you could rely on the process of building relationships to happen organically to an extent, just due to being in close proximity to one another. But in this new world, none of that exists. So, how do you emulate those organic interactions and recreate it in a virtual world? How do you allow people to get to know one another, learn about each other, and build trust?”

It’s all going to come down to finding innovative ways to build connections.

2022 Team Building and Training Trend #3: Organizations Will Need More Frequent Company Events to Build Connections

One of the most vital ways to create and maintain strong organic bonds between colleagues and teams will be to gather people more frequently.

“I see the volume of team activities going up significantly in the coming year,” says Seward. “Companies that have relied on organic relationship-building are going to have to create those opportunities more often. They’ll likely need to do more structured team building experiences than they had in the past. It can’t just be an annual occurrence anymore.”

He adds, “These events are going to happen more often and they’re going to be on more of a team-by-team basis, not just a company-wide event. Organizations need to build that culture and those bonds between individual team members, not just their company as a whole.”

2022 Team Building and Training Trend #4: A New Way of Approaching Retreats and Incentives Will Emerge

As travel and in-person events remain challenging, off-site meetings and company retreats will likely look a bit different than they used to.

“All these changes make you wonder what’s going to happen for those companies that used to rely heavily on retreats and off-sites,” says Seward. “Will they still do them? I believe they will, once things start to settle down and move back toward normalcy. But, because people haven’t seen much of each other for the past few years, I think a greater percentage of the time at those events will be spent on bonding activities.”

He elaborates, “It won’t just be coming together to do meetings all day, talk business, then get together for dinner. I anticipate a great budgeting of time for getting to know each other, because sitting at a conference room table doesn’t truly give you touchpoints with people. And when you don’t get those touchpoints, those meetings become less efficient and less fluid because the players don’t know one another.”

2022 Team Building and Training Trend #5: Technology Will Have a Significant Impact on Team Building

a group of employees using technology to support team building and employee engagement in 2022

The last piece of the puzzle will be the implications of technology on virtual team building and the expectations of organizations when it comes to their events.

“Technology is becoming incredibly important in team building,” says Seward. “Even now, it’s significantly enhanced compared to old-school team building. It’s evolved.”

Seward elaborates, “As organizations do more and more virtual team building activities, they’re starting to expect some real production value. Technology has taken things to a whole new level, and we’re seeing that in a number of our brand-new virtual team building activities.”

Due to this, we’ve seen a rise in bookings of our most popular virtual team building activities.

Virtual Escape Room: Jewel Heist

team building activities like virtual escape room jewel heist can help engage colleagues in 2022

There’s been a robbery! Someone has masterminded a heist to steal a priceless collection of precious jewels, and it’s up to you and your team to recover them before time runs out.

In this virtually-hosted escape room activity, you and your team will need to uncover hidden clues and solve a series of brain-boggling challenges that require collaboration, creative problem-solving, and outside-the-box thinking. But be quick! The clock is ticking before the stolen score is gone forever.

This virtual activity is based on our popular in-person Corporate Escape Rooms, Jewel Heist and The Mummy’s Curse.

If your team loves escape rooms, check out The 25 Top Paid and Free Virtual Escape Rooms for Work and Friends.

Virtual Trivia Time Machine

virtual trivia time machine is a high tech team building activity that can help support strong employee engagement in 2022

Step into the Outback Time Machine and take a trip through time, from the pre-pandemic 21st century through the decades all the way to the ’60s.

This exciting, fast-paced virtual trivia game, packed with nostalgia and good vibes, is guaranteed to produce big laughs, friendly competition, and maybe even some chair-dancing.

Your virtual game show host will warm up guests with a couple of “tablehopper rounds” (breakout room mixers) and split you out into teams. Within minutes, your home office will be transformed into a game show stage with your very own game show buzzers!

Virtual Clue Murder Mystery

high tech team building activities like virtual clue murder mystery can be a great way to support company culture

Can you and your colleagues solve a deadly crime? In this virtual team building activity, you’ll need to examine case files and decipher clues to solve the mysterious murder of a man named Neil Davidson.

The Virtual Do-Good Games

employees can use high tech virtual team building activities like the do good games to give back in 2022

Team up with your colleagues for a Virtual Do-Good Games to do some good in the world and give back to those in need, all while having a blast. This is a morale-boosting virtual team building activity that transforms friendly competition into charitable donations.

Virtual Happy Hour Trivia

spending time together is a easy with a high tech team building activity like virtual happy hour trivia

Get together with your team and take a trip to “Hamish McDuff’s” virtual pub. This hilarious Scottish pub owner is the legendary host of a trivia game that is perfect for your team’s virtual happy hour fun!

Hamish will host two rounds of virtual pub trivia, featuring four themed categories of your choice. With 20 category options to choose from, you’ll be sure to find the perfect themes for your remote team – from Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader to Sports, Food & Drink, or even Celebrity Real Estate.

With pub soundscapes, visual surprises, and warm-hearted humor, Hamish McDuff makes your guests feel like they just had a memorable happy hour with friends in a real pub, like the good ol’ days.

This virtual pub trivia game is guaranteed to produce plenty of laughs and lift team “spirits.” It might even include a few special surprises. 

Want to level up your next company happy hour? Take a look at these 33 Unbeatable Virtual Happy Hour Games for Workgroups.

Virtual Trivia Championship

high tech team building activities like virtual trivia championship offer great production value and entertainment

Does your team have what it takes to win the Virtual Trivia Championship? In this virtual trivia team building activity, your colleagues will break into teams and turn the competition level up to ten as you challenge your wits, test your knowledge, and work your way through a list of trivia questions ranging from cities to movies, songs, objects, and even a round of Jeopardy-style challenges.  

Looking for more trivia games? Check out these 13 Incredible Virtual Trivia Games for Work Teams.

a group of employees doing a group skills training workshop together

Looking at the trends and indicators from the last year, Lyndon Friesen, Lead Facilitator at Ignitor Training, skill development coach, and training and development expert at Outback Team Building and Training, anticipates a strong focus in 2022 on how to handle the return to work.

This includes the physical return to the office but, more importantly, getting reacquainted with team members and caring for their mental and emotional wellbeing during the transition.

2022 Training and Development Trend #1: Navigating the Return to Work Will Be a Key Challenge

Echoing Seward’s sentiments, Lyndon Friesen sees the return to work as a significant—and complex—process to navigate.

“The return to the office is going to pose challenges for organizations,” says Friesen. “Do you mandate it? Do you not? If you do, will you irritate people? If you don’t but some people still have to come in because of their role, is it unfair?”

But these challenges extend past logistics.

“Beyond that, there’s the consideration that people being apart may not be good for business,” explains Friesen. “While, for many roles, it’s not that big a deal, there are a lot of studies showing that mental health is adversely affected by physical separation.”

He elaborates, “When you work together in person, you get between seven and nine minutes of ‘watercooler chat’ and socialization each day. And while that may not seem significant at a glance, it really adds up in the long run, in turn affecting our work, our personal lives, and our connectivity to people.”

But knowing a return to the office can be good for business and mental health, there’s another factor to consider: personal preferences.

“Many people never want to go back to the office,” admits Friesen. “A lot of employees have reevaluated their priorities and the kind of job they want. So, the question becomes how strong of a stance to take on the return to work.”

He adds, “The truth is that organizations are in a lose-lose-lose situation. Whatever they do will inevitably be viewed as unfair by some employees. And that puts companies at risk of losing employees when they can’t afford to. It’s a tough spot—so much so that many of them keep pushing the decision off, over and over.”

2022 Training and Development Trend #2: The Struggle to Maintain Corporate Culture and Identity Will Become Prevalent

a group of colleagues working hard to maintain company culture through group training programs

For many organizations, remote work has created a corporate identity crisis that’s incredibly difficult to deal with.

“So many organizations are struggling with defining company culture and identity right now,” says Friesen. “They’re wondering what their culture even is anymore and whether they have any left. Culture is formed by employees emulating behaviors, and now they’re lacking the ability to do that.”

He adds, “Vice Presidents of HR all across North America are losing sleep right now trying to handle this.”

And as these questions arise and these challenges present themselves, Friesen is seeing organizations enlisting training and development programs that focus on key soft skills.

Creating Mission, Vision, and Values

a group of employees doing a mission vision and values group skills training workshop

Many organizations are struggling with what exactly the identity is that binds their people together. And with a group skills training program like Creating Mission, Vision, and Values, you can get your employees together as a team to collaboratively identify them together.

Looking for more insight on this front? Read through these 5 Ways to Help Connect Your Employees’ Work to Your Company’s Mission.

Emotional Intelligence

a facilitator leading a group of employees doing an emotional intelligence group skills training workshop 1

For leaders, it’s important to ask yourself whether you understand your employees. This doesn’t necessarily mean agreeing with them, but you need to be able to see both sides in order to lead effectively. That’s where a training program like Emotional Intelligence comes in. It can help your leaders to increase their self-awareness, learn to self-regulate behaviors, develop better social skills for leadership, use emotionally intelligent motivators, and develop a greater sense of empathy.

For more insights on how to develop these skills, check out The What, Why, and How of Developing Emotional Intelligence for Leaders.

2022 Training and Development Trend #3: DEI Has Taken a Backseat (And May Continue To)

Last year, we predicted that Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion (DEI) would be a prominent trend. But unexpectedly, it’s taken a back seat.

“Interestingly, we’ve seen DEI take a back seat to challenges pertaining to the pandemic,” says Friesen. “It’s certainly not as prevalent of a topic or focus as it was a year ago.”

2022 Training and Development Trend #4: The Importance of Rediscovering Teams

a group of colleagues working to regroup and get to know each other again

Being apart for so long hasn’t just caused social disconnection. It’s caused a rift in employees’ understanding of one another and leaders’ understanding of their teams.

“We’re seeing a trend of employers trying to rediscover who their teams are,” says Friesen. “This is a result of teams gathering face-to-face for the first time in two years or groups of employees meeting in person who have never met before. People need to discover—or rediscover—how to work together.”

This has resulted in an uptick in assessment sessions designed to identify employees’ preferences and workstyles that help create understanding and build stronger teams.

Discovering Workstyles with DiSC

a group of employees doing a discovering workstyles with disc group skills training workshop

Learn how your team’s DiSC assessments can help identify distinct personal workstyles amongst colleagues and enhance collaboration and communication by providing insight into how different workstyles work best together.

Building Strategic Teams with StrengthsFinder

a group of employees doing a strengthsfinder group skills training workshop

Learn how StrengthsFinder helps identify the strengths of your individual team members and gain actionable insight into how to leverage those strengths strategically to build strong teams.

2022 Training and Development Trend #5: Organizations Will Want to Infuse Fun Into Learning

The toll the pandemic has taken on employee wellbeing and engagement is driving a new trend: the integration of fun into learning and development sessions.

“I’ve had a lot of organizations looking to do training sessions that balance fun and learning,” says Friesen. “They want to do learning and development, but they want it to be light. Their team is tired. They’ve been through a lot. They want to equip them with tools and knowledge, but they want serious content delivered in a light way.”

He adds, “I think we can expect a lot of organizations to seek training sessions that ensure their team leaves feeling equipped but not heavy.”

2022 Training and Development Trend #5: Organizations Will Begin Bringing Employee Mental Health In-House

It seems that a realization is coming to light: we still don’t truly know the long-term implications of the pandemic on people’s mental health. And this is of growing concern to organizations.

“There’s a belief in many circles that we still don’t truly know the true impact of the pandemic on people,” explains Friesen. “I believe we’re going to look back and realize that this period of time was much harder on people than we ever really knew. We don’t know the full extent of the fallout from this—and many organizations are sharing this sentiment.”

He adds, “People are already carrying a level of worry, concern, and anxiety. And this is obvious just by looking at how long it takes to get an appointment with a therapist these days.”

Because of these concerns, many organizations are considering taking proactive steps to mitigate mental health challenges among employees.

“There are a ton of people feeling really, really down,” says Friesen. “This isn’t just about feeling demotivated. It’s about people feeling constantly down and tired and having a hard time focusing. Organizations are recognizing the immediate and potential long-term implications of this and are considering bringing on mental health professionals to act as an in-house support system for struggling employees.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has largely shaped the professional landscape around the world for the past two years. And, as we enter year three, there are signs of what’s to come for the long term. For organizations of all sizes, acknowledging these changes and finding ways to prepare for them will be a key to success.

Have you seen these trends impacting your industry? If so, what steps are you taking to address them? Let us know in the comments section.

Learn more about what’s new in 2022.   

If you’ve got questions about how you can use team building and training and development programs to equip your team and your organization for success in 2022, reach out to an Employee Engagement Consultant.  


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