When Ryan Ho (Com ’14) saw a 2014 viral video of people playing soccer while wearing inflatable suits, the wheels started turning. Within two months, Ho and his wife, Natasha Toh, had co-founded The Fun Empire, a team-building and events company based in their native Singapore.
The company has now hosted more than 6,000 events for clients such as Disney, Airbnb, Red Bull, 3M and Apple, and opened a second Singapore location in October. Team-building activities range from bubble soccer and boxing to cooking classes and escape rooms. In April, Forbes added the couple to its list of 30 Under 30 Asia entrepreneurs.
Virginia Magazine asked Ho for a few insights on team building. Here’s that conversation, edited and condensed.
Virginia Magazine: Why is team building so popular?
Ho: As more millennials are entering the workforce, workplace culture is growing more collaborative. It’s not to say, “Come to the office and just play the whole day,” but effectively use certain aspects of play to cultivate good creativity. How do we cultivate an environment where people are not afraid to speak up for fear of being shut down by upper management? How can they bring their true self to work?
What activities might a manager implement on a more routine basis?
Design incentives for goals that have to be achieved by every single member of the team, in order for the team to be rewarded. [The incentives] could be financial, or in the form of days off or points that can be accumulated for prizes. It’s not just having pizza gatherings but creating regular meetings [where] every single member of the team needs to contribute to the team success. It’s better to have smaller, more frequent team-building events than one super-large event. These activities will form a good part of the culture and fabric of the company.
Can families benefit from team-building activities?
Parents engaging in activities with their children is an extremely powerful way to develop stronger bonds. It can be really simple: weekly art classes to learn a new skill, chores on the weekends together, board game night, cooking dinner together every Saturday. Create experiences where different members of the family contribute to a team goal or objective.