Sowmya Sankaran / Reading Time: 5 mins
Getting out of the office for a company offsite can reinvigorate teams, spark fresh thinking, and bring everyone together around shared goals. But only if executed intentionally. Poorly organized offsites full of boring meetings or forced "fun" activities can be a waste of time and money.
This article will walk through best practices for planning and running company offsites that attendees rave about long after.
In today's distributed workplace, getting everyone together in-person for a company offsite might seem unnecessary. But investing in bringing your team physically together delivers many tangible benefits:
There is simply no replacement for in-person interaction when it comes to relationship building. Virtual meetings make it difficult to fully connect as humans. Offsites give space away from regular routines to get to know each other on a deeper level through activities, meals, and informal networking time.
Being together in a new environment fosters trust between colleagues and teams. People are more willing to share ideas and be vulnerable when not just talking through a screen. The relationships strengthened at offsites translate back to better collaboration in day-to-day work.
Getting outside your normal workplace is crucial for sparking creative thinking and innovation. People become more open to new concepts and possibilities when in an inspiring setting designed for big picture thinking.
Offsites also offer more dedicated time for strategic discussions that get cut short by daily distractions and fires in the office. New solutions and ideas emerge more freely, empowering the organization to think ahead proactively.
It can be easy forteams and departments to feel siloed and misaligned when always working separately. Offsites bring everyone together around common missions, challenges, and goals. Having leadership share strategy and vision in-person is powerful. Teams gain perspective on how their work ladders up to organizational priorities. You can ensure understanding of and commitment to core values.
Some problems are too complex to solve virtually. Offsites let you dedicate focused time and resources to critical business challenges requiring deep collaboration and brainstorming. The right mix of formal workshops and informal conversations drives breakthrough thinking. Teams feel empowered to think big without constant interruptions.
Offsites reinvigorate people mentally, emotionally, and physically at a time when workplace burnout is rampant. Employees return excited about their work and organization after meaningful time with colleagues.
The change of environment, balanced schedule, and social activities all renew motivation. People feel valued when given opportunities to grow, connect, and have fun together. Morale and retention improve.
Realizing these benefits requires intention and thoughtful planning - company offsites done poorly can have the opposite effect.
With a clear understanding of why offsites deliver immense value for organizations, let's dive into practical planning considerations.
Start by identifying 1-2 main goals or intended outcomes for your offsite. Is the purpose team building? Solving a specific business problem? Planning for the year ahead? Having a defined focus will dictate the location, activities, and everything else. Don't try to accomplish too much in one event. Prioritize what's most important.
Look for offsite venues that fit your goals, budget and company culture. Check out hotels and resorts with conference facilities. Or go more rustic with a campground or ranch retreat. Make sure the space can comfortably accommodate your group and desired activities. And consider convenience factors - easy commutes and availability of airports, restaurants etc.
Strike the right balance between structured time and free time in your agenda. Include some energizing activities like ice breakers, team challenges and workshops. But also allow open spaces for conversations to naturally occur. Meals and networking events are great for this. End with action planning for documenting next steps and priorities after the offsite.
Work out all the operational details - transportation, lodging, meals, AV and wifi needs, name badges, weather contingencies. Confirm any dietary restrictions and accessibility requirements upfront. Build in regular breaks to keep people refreshed.
Think about group activities, ice breakers or outings that allow people to connect on a more personal level. Share backgrounds, stories and inspirations. Optional local tours, recreation or meals out can also encourage informal bonding beyond the conference room.
Check-in with attendees after your offsite to gather feedback on what worked well and where you can improve for next time. Review your outcomes and action items to ensure you have proper follow-through. Share key takeaways across the whole company. Then start planning the next offsite, incorporating lessons learned. The more you hold offsites, the better you get at designing valuable agendas tailored to your team.
|Survey attendees ahead of time for input on objectives, activities, concerns etc.
|Keep people confined inside all day - incorporate outdoor time if possible.
|Build buffer time into the agenda for inevitable delays and changes.
|Mandate social activities employees may not be comfortable with. Keep them optional.
|Compile all key information into a central guidebook or site.
|Ignore dietary requirements - provide options for all.
|Plan some activities involving movement - walks, ice breakers, stretch breaks.
|Let meetings run over schedule and cut into important free time.
|Limit distractions during work sessions but provide some networking happy hours.
|Make participation feel forced - foster openness.
Company offsites can be incredibly rewarding when thoughtfully designed around clear goals, people-focused agendas, and opportunities for organic connection. Avoid the pitfall of endless boring meetings.
By gathering input across your organization, planning meaningful agenda items tailored to your team, and allowing free time for relationships to flourish, your next offsite can lead to renewed alignment, energy and focus.