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Building adaptability and collaboration in a world of social distancing: A new benchmark in team development

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It’s now evident that an emotionally agile and resilient workforce has a massive bearing on the results of teams and organisations. However, in the fast pace of working life it can be hard to provide opportunities for staff to develop and improve such skills.

This is especially difficult now, due to the new restrictions we are finding ourselves living with and the fact many businesses have had to adapt to the new-normal of a remote workforce.

I spend my working life helping individuals and teams build and develop these skills.  This often includes writing and creating experiential challenges, solutions and programs to help improve people’s emotional agility including: communication, relationships, flexibility and happiness.

And just like when people write songs, books or stories, quite often, the ideas and thoughts come to me when I’m not trying to create anything in particular. It’s a strange thing. In these tricky times we’re all experiencing, I have had a period when I have experienced a deep burst of creativity which I hope will help people through difficult times.  

Last month, our hearts sank – the launch of our new XVenture virtual world experience in cinemas was put on hold. Months of work and thousands of dollars developing, testing and proving the program was “stood down” in the blink of an eye. These are the times when you need to stop thinking and relax, and the songs, the books, or in my case, the flow of experiential solutions, naturally emerge.

And they did. Within two days, our team was working remotely to create our first fully online XVenture Challenge in a Virtual World. The focus – to build mental strength and collaboration skills between participants in a fast-moving fun environment. In essence a focus on emotional agility and resilience.

We tested the environment and analysed a number of different platforms to support our design concepts. The technical solution would need to support the live hosting of a fast-paced 360 virtual world with regular scoring updates, effective two-way communication and with many teams whose members were in multiple locations.

Thankfully, we have partners who are also trying to innovate in the new world too. So, we discussed the idea and concepts with two of our great partner clients in this field and they had no hesitation.

In early April, 18 people from the UOW-Tottenham Hotspur Global Football Program (GFP) took part in the world first ‘XVenture Mind Games – Staying Connected’. This session included 15 players plus coaching staff and the GFP Program Manager.

All individuals participating were in self-isolation, working remotely and virtually. Allocated into four teams, they entered the XV United World. In this highly competitive challenge based on the back lot of a stadium, the teams were given sixty minutes to solve as many activities in the virtual world as possible. From social isolation to social interaction!

The challenges were a blend of high-quality multi-media activities which tested the teams to the max and provided the perfect platform for individual and team growth. “Learning within learning!” Every ten minutes they were provided with an updated live score of their performance and those of the other teams too.

The whole experience was a huge success and we have since had several other sessions with teams spread across Australia, New Zealand, UK and even Germany, from; Parkable (NZ/AU), Perth Glory, The Scots College, Western Sydney University, Eagles Nest (NZ), The Atticism (AU/UK), Friedrich-Alexander University (Germany), Insurance Advisernet, Aura Partners Accounting and families who participated in the XVenture Family Challenge TV series.

Right now, the take up is gathering momentum as we add more virtual worlds into the mix, the latest being the set of the XVenture TV show: the 6- star resort, Eagles Nest at the Bay of Islands. 

There are some big learnings already emerging from this program. Firstly, is noticing the obvious joy we get from deep social engagement (something that we often take for granted). This can translate into a renewed positive energy for those who have participated.

Secondly, that some of our most significant growth moments are when we’re accepting and experiencing the unknown and the uncertain.

Thirdly, that the initial stages of trying something new is something all of us have some misgivings about. Many participants commented on how they noticed themselves becoming more flexible and adaptable as the program progressed and how they got less concerned about how they would be judged if they made a mistake. 

It is likely that our world will be a little different in the future. Much of it is unknown. Do we step forward being excited or being fearful. Having higher levels of emotional agility and resilience is a key. Mind Games provides a place to build these skills.

Mike Conway is the Founder of XVenture, and Emotional Agility and Mind Coach to elite sports teams and individuals. You can head to www.xventure.com.au/mindgames to book your team in to participate in XVenture Mind Games – Staying Connected – the new benchmark in remote team learning – from social isolation to social interaction…

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