Team building events can be good, mediocre, and bad, but until yesterday I hadn't heard of one that I found completely horrifying. Joanna Holman tweeted this:

Unless you have a strong stomach, don't click. And if you do, don't say I didn't warn you. Because I did. 

They give some science info about oxytocin and that's all fine and good. I love science. I still do not want to cuddle any coworker. Ever. Here's how it works:

 During the day co-workers will be required to cuddle each other in a variety of different positions and will need to switch partners every two hours - so that you have a chance to bond with everyone.

At the beginning of the day there will be a group admission session, where co-workers will talk about the negative traits of their colleagues and address any issues within work they'd like to discuss. This is to clear the air and allow you to feel more at ease with each other going into the day. During the last hour of the day, there will also be a group cuddling session, as well as a conflict resolution cuddle session.

No. Just no. There are numerous reasons that this would make me and many other people uncomfortable. And with my HR hat on, let's count the problems.

Sexual harassment

Sure, being forced to do this is gender neutral and "not because of sex" but how can this not encourage sexual harassment? "It's okay to spend two hours (TWO HOURS!) cuddling with Stacy in accounting, but other than that, it's not okay to touch her!" No, no, no. But Stacy gave consent, you say! Well, her boss told her to, which changes the whole dynamic. No.


Maybe someone's been sexually harassed in the past. Maybe someone doesn't like to be touched. Maybe, just maybe, no one in their right mind would want to do this at work, but there's pressure to participate. You should never, ever pressure anyone to cuddle with anyone else. Heck, I even support this Swedish court decision that said you couldn't force someone to shake hands. And speaking of that, up next...


There are plenty of people whose religious beliefs prohibit them from cuddling with members of the opposite sex to whom they are not married. It would make me uncomfortable as heck, and I would say no, even though there is no specific "thou shalt not cuddle with a co-worker" commandment. Other religions may (and do) have prohibitions against even touching members of the opposite sex. And you do not want to get into a discussion "Gee, Bob, you're saying this is against your religion, but you go to the same church Steve does, and he's already cuddling!"

And if you limited it to same-sex cuddling, you've got discrimination problems, and it doesn't take the sexual harassment potential away. I'm getting twitchy just thinking about all these problems.

Save your cuddling for date night--with your non-co-worker date. Let's stick to team building activities that don't make people feel icky. 

Published on: Aug 20, 2018
The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of