What is Speed Dating at Work

Speed dating at work might initially come off as a strange concept, but it can be an amazing way to create some quick connections for any team by engaging team members with a deeply curious mindset.

To be clear, we aren’t referring to anything romantic when we say speed dating. Our intent is to bring to mind the opportunity to easily, quickly and meaningfully connect with someone. It’s a chance for us to show up as our best selves, well-mannered and, most important of all, curious! After all, we are seeking fun, connection, and maybe even understanding.

To this point, the intent has much more to do with achieving a core human connection with another person, and it is this connection that our “Speed Dating at Work” activity is all about!

Why Use Speed Dating at Work

We get asked all the time for team-building exercises, but most activities for teams don’t cut the mustard. In other words, they tend to be lame and not terribly engaging. Usually, this is because so many team-building activities don’t have a core element of learning about your team members included. Don’t get us wrong, performing some harrowing tight rope walks 20 feet up between two mighty pines does create a memorable shared experience but this isn’t easy nor quick and may not be inclusive for some of your team members.

With Speed Dating at Work you are not only spending time being together – you are also deepening the sense of shared humanity. Shared humanity is simply to say that by spending time together two people are able to find common ground and similarities of interests they can nerd out on, life experiences that align, and generally things they can use as a foundation of connection and unity. In short, they can relate to one another in a meaningful way beyond being co-workers.

Without the Speed Dating Activity

Team members can create these connections on their own and “naturally” over time. You’ll often see this happen sparsely at holiday company events, happy hours, or other random after-work employee functions. However, these events often do not cross social “professional” barriers. Most of the time people will stick with who they know, so instead of two people from different departments or titles coming together and finding out they have so much in common, they stay next to their daily coworkers and remain strangers.

The other beautiful thing about this activity is that daily coworkers get to know one another in a more meaningful way too and deepen their connection!

The point is not for everyone to suddenly become best friends, however it is critical for teams to work well together. And it’s so much easier to work with people with whom you have relatedness and camaraderie. To be clear, this isn’t a focus on mission, vision, and values. Yes, those things are important but that is about what aligns your entire organization. This is about building and deepening those one-on-one, team member to team member relationships that together create an aligned, unified team that works well together. The work world can be a challenging place, but it’s less so when our teams act as one.

If you need a fast way to start the process of connecting people in your organization, then “Speed Dating at Work” is the ticket. We’ve seen it work again and again and even use it at conferences and workshops because of its effectiveness.

Looking for a tool to guide you through?

We got you! With our highly regarded Speed Connecting activity you can break down silos and start building camaraderie.

This Freebie comes complete with an introduction, and facilitation tools!

Don’t wait! Grab it today, and start eliminating us vs. them mentalities.

How to set up the activity:

  • Set up 16 chairs (for 16 people) with 8 chairs facing 8 chairs – it’s up to you if you want a table between them. (You can do this same setup with fewer or more people.)
  • In addition, you need one person to be the facilitator/timer.
  • Have one row stay seated while the other row moves every 7 minutes (use a timer).
  • Set the ground rule of no conversation hoggers or hiders.
  • Half way through each round yell, “halftime!”
  • And then yell “switch!” when it’s time for the moving row to move down a seat.

There is one kicker. In this scenario, seven people will not have time to talk to one another – the people in their own row. They will want to know each others’ thoughts as well which means the conversation will continue back at their desks, over coffee or lunch and last well beyond the exercise. In essence, you leave them wanting to know more about each other. This short little exercise turns into real deal team building at work!