For many big businesses across Australia, corporate challenges have long been an opportunity to bring employees together.
From Sydney’s City2Surf to the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge, these popular events presented a collective goal for boosting teamwork and moral.
But as HR teams reacted to the dramatic shift to remote offices, it was easy for teambuilding to drop down the priority list.
For sportswear giant ASICS, it was vital to find a way to recreate that collaborative team experience with the use of clever technology.
The Japanese company recently kicked off the ASICS World Ekiden 2020 which will see teammates across the globe coming together to run a combined marathon distance.
Rosa Yoon, ASICS HR lead for Australia, said the initiative aims to combat the social restrictions many of their employees have faced because of Covid-19.
“I think virtual races and conferences will be the new norm in the future,” she told HRD.
“It’s about how you connect with people and maintain that interaction and teamwork. That’s why we’re going virtual.”
Research by ASICS found two thirds (67%) of respondents were missing the chance to compete with others.
Half of those surveyed reported a negative impact to their mental health because of being disconnected from teammates and 61% said having a virtual event would boost their motivation.
Running until November 22, the Ekiden challenge involves teams of six covering a combined total distance of 42km.
Teams decide how they split up the distance, meaning both novice runners and seasoned pros can get involved.
The newly-created ASICS Race Roster app logs their efforts and the Runkeeper app has also been created to help with training.
A beginner runner herself, Yoon is set to take part with five other ASICS executives in her team.
She said the challenge has encouraged her to run for the first time – another positive impact for employees when it comes to protecting their mental health during the pandemic.
“It has given us an ability and the tools to reconnect with our employees,” she said.
“It’s encouraged us to participate and also build a lot of energy and excitement around working together as a team.”
Launched globally for anyone to participate, the Ekiden aims to foster a worldwide approach to corporate challenges.
While many workers in Australia are beginning a gradual return to the office, countries across Europe face continued lockdowns.