When managers swap their pin-stripes for striped prison uniforms, meet in the prison yard for early-morning sport or flock together into clink gangs on prisoner evenings, this is not necessarily preparation for a prison revolt. Rather, what can be seen here is a group of top executives on a team-building exercise. In what was formerly Stockholm Prison, there is now the Hotel Långholmen, and its barred windows give out-of-office training measures the piquant note. It is basic knowledge in employee management that joint experiences boost team spirit, break down entrenched structures and help to shake off debilitating routine. "An unusual environment promotes a constructive escape from daily life, fosters the flow of new ideas and provides creative brainstorming," says Meetings & Groups expert Antje Trier from HRS.
And the spectrum of locations that provide possibilities for doing this is broad: In the Cameron Highland Resort on a tea plantation in Malaysia, jungle adventures bind colleagues together. On the Asara Wine Estate in Stellenbosch, South Africa, positive experiences like wine-tasting and cooking experiments bring co-workers closer together. The Hamburg gasworks were turned into the event and design hotel "Gastwerk" ("guest-works"), Hotel Gut Höhne in western German Düsseldorf catapults conference guests with bricks, battlements and towers out of the present, and Burg Rheinfels castle in western German St. Goar, once the most powerful fortress on the Rhine and today the location of the romantic hotel Schloss Rheinfels, inspires guests with its historical ambience.
A cloister environment is also suitable for releasing new energy. Where work and prayer once dictated the day of good Franciscan nuns, managers visiting Bloomfield House in Mullingar, Ireland today practice falconry, archery and kayaking on nearby Lough Ennell. And when Anne Boleyn, the second wife of spouse-disposing Henry VIII, went to ground initially in a cloister in Sopwell in England after her secret marriage, she could hardly have anticipated that managers would scoot around there sometime on segways. However, the fact that this marriage led to the foundation of the Anglican Church proves that venerable walls can most certainly generate new stimuli.