Thursday, August 17, 2006

Geocaching with a GPS on the Job!

By Christina VanGinkel

Team Building on the job can be an important aspect of getting employees to work well together. Finding a solution that works though is not always easy. Different ages, various degrees of physical abilities, and individual aspects of various departments makes for work environments where there are so many differences it is hard to find common ground. Coming up with something that everyone finds interesting is yet another barrier. Enter the GPS and the wonderful world of geocaching.

In offices around the globe, department heads have been trying all sorts of team building ideas to get employees working together. They needed something that could bring together their employees, disregarding all their various difference, some task that would be fun, make them think, and work together all at the same time. The answer of course is geocaching.

Materials Needed

If your place of employment is wondering how this works, read on. Expenses will be minimal, depending on how many GPS units you will need. Also required will be a compass and map of the area that the caches will be hidden for each employee participating, along with the contents of the caches. Cache contents will be up to the discretion of each company, but keeping the contents fun will make the employees appreciate the task that much more. Gift certificates to restaurants or weekend getaways are always popular. Smaller tokens can also be fun, such as stress buster novelties and other office paraphernalia. If you choose to make this a weekend event, travel expenses will also be required.

The most common brands of handheld GPS units include Garmin and Magellan. A basic handheld unit will be sufficient for team building searches in and around the office; however, if the antennae is incapable of finding the satellites from inside a building, you may have to keep your ventures located outdoors. I have personally used the GarminGPSmap 60CSx and have had no problem using it indoors, but building design may differ from site to site and using it indoors could still be an issue. Not to mention bringing the project to an area different from the employee's everyday surroundings is always better for morale. What employee would not de stress over a weekend spent at the beach for example?

Form your Teams

Teams are formed depending on how many employees there are in the company. Teams can consist of two or more people. Each team should be allotted one GPS unit, not one per person, as this will defeat the purpose of teamwork. Teams can be randomly picked, or assigned by need. For example, if you have two key employees that need to build their skills directly with working with each other, assign them to a single team. Small groups can also be assigned in just such a way. Do avoid teams much larger than four people at a time though, as it will be too easy for one or more of the team members to step aside and not gain any team building skills, which is the whole purpose of geocaching on the job in the first place. Each time a cache is searched for, a different member of the team should be chosen to operate the GPS itself. Other members will help by providing the coordinates, and searching for the cache, once the area of the cache has been narrowed down.

Make your Caches

Cache contents should be provided by the company, but each team could be responsible for hiding a cache for another team to find. They will have to log the coordinates of where they hid the cache, and this should be accomplished one team at a time in the days leading up to the team-building project. If time will not permit this, or the event is going to be held away from the office making it impossible, then the company should assign an individual or two to hide all of the caches.

Geocaching on the job has many positives, besides the obvious of team building. It is a great way to introduce your employees to a hobby that they can continue to explore outside of the work environment, and it is just plain fun. Try geocaching on the job and before you know it, your employees will soon understand the true meaning of teamwork!

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