Ever wondered why your team offsites seem to just fall flat, or why your team didn't get quite as much from them as you’d hoped?
Getting small groups together for a company offsite or corporate retreat can be a great way to shake things up. The fixed timeframe makes it easier to focus and make concerted progress towards your objectives, while the change of scenery gives your employees a break from routine.
But it can be tough to keep your team members both engaged and enjoying themselves. Often, companies fall between those stools—either trying so hard to make it fun that little is achieved, or making it so like work that it’s just not fun. Finding that balance is the challenge.
If you want to have a successful team offsite, you need to put the time into the planning. This means knowing what you want to achieve, knowing what your team needs, and finding the perfect place that fits that picture.
In this article, we’ll take you through the benefits of arranging offsite meetings, and give you 6 top tips for how to go about it.
There’s only so many PowerPoint slides and role-plays employees can handle before they lose enthusiasm. The conference room is not the only place—and not even the best place—for your team building activities. Getting your team members offsite is a great way to give them a fresh perspective and put a new spin on teamwork. Here’s how team offsites can benefit your teams.
Getting out of the office or the usual workspace gets teams away from other demands and distractions. Offsites can give employees a sense of purpose in a more fun environment. It gives teams a focused time in a new setting to be productive and collaborate. This way, they can really zero in on their strategic plans, goals, and tactics.
New surroundings make for a more enjoyable and engaging employee experience, even when you’re focusing on core projects. It also gives you the opportunity for some team bonding activities. And with so many of us now working on remote and dispersed teams, an offsite retreat helps build connections, camaraderie and nurture a sense of teamwork and belonging.
Offsites boost creativity
Working together in person has been shown to be more effective for creative thinking than online collaboration. If your team is working on a creative project, an offsite can remove the narrow boundaries of the screen and give team members a wider panorama to spark their imaginations.
What’s more, studies show that natural surroundings can enhance creativity.
Offsites benefit wellbeing
Overwork and burnout can be a problem for team members and managers alike. We only get so many holidays a year, and by the time they roll around we’re often more than ready for them. Offsites allow you to blend work and travel so that you can alleviate the pressure and stress of the office environment while still being productive. And if you go somewhere with access to nature, it’s an additional benefit for your wellbeing.
There's no one way to run an offsite. It depends on your company, your team and their needs. Many companies see corporate offsites as a purely fun-based way for colleagues to interact and let off steam in a relaxing atmosphere. Others treat them as a chance to get focused work done without the stress of the office.
But whatever your aim, successful corporate offsite should combine both—enjoyment and productivity. And that takes planning and preparation.
You need to know what you want your team members to get out of it, what you want to achieve, and how you are going to achieve it. You also need to plan the logistics so that everything runs smoothly.
Here are our top 6 tips for your leadership team to make sure you plan the best offsite.
First and foremost, it’s important to know why you’re going off site. You have a limited time together, so deciding on a specific objective is key to ensuring employee engagement. It gives team members a clear focus of what’s expected of them or what they want to achieve over the course of the few days.
Ask yourself what it is you and your team want to achieve.
Whatever your objective for your team offsite, spell it out. Make it clear and specific so that everyone is on board. Involve the team themselves in defining the objective so they feel invested in it. This way, everyone comes to the offsite meeting with a sense of purpose.
Before you can choose your offsite location, you need to get clear on your needs—and your resources. Establish your budget and spell out the various requirements and expenses. Here’s some questions you’ll want to consider.
Make a list of all your criteria, so that you can compare it to what’s on offer.
Location, location, location can make or break your team offsite. An offsite is not just about getting away from the office—it’s also about where you’ll be spending your time. You’ll want that to be somewhere that meets your criteria and that’s conducive to achieving your objectives. Just as importantly, you’ll want it to be someplace where people feel comfortable and relaxed.
Use your answers to the questions above to help you shop around for a location that suits you. For instance, at Ashore, we offer a range of unique lodgings around the UK for teams of up to 8 people to hold offsites, for between 3 and 7 days. When you explore Ashore’s range, you’ll find details for each house, including:
You want to ensure you achieve the objective you’ve set, but you’ve got a limited amount of time for your offsite. So it’s a good idea to have an agenda, so that you can make the most of your time.
That said, though, you don’t want to be too strict with this. An offsite should be a less pressurised environment than the office, and people won’t want to feel tied to a schedule.
Don’t pack your agenda and leave plenty of space for flexibility. That way, you can balance productivity with a more laid-back atmosphere. For example, rather than strict timings, you could keep your daily agenda as simple as:
Or you could break your overall objective down into daily sub-goals or challenges, along with the activities that will help you achieve them.
Creating a fun atmosphere for your team members is crucial if you are to get the most out of your corporate offsite. But it must be genuine. Your idea of your team’s idea of fun might actually be their idea of fun. There’s nothing worse for team morale than a full package of offsite team-building activities that they don’t actually enjoy. Scavenger hunts and paintball are not for everyone.
There’s no need to overdo it with elaborately planned activities. The best team offsites are those that tap into team members’ shared interests and individual personalities. So make sure to involve the whole team in deciding the activities.
Look at the leisure options at the different locations and use team meetings or online polls to discuss and decide on what works best for your team. That in itself is team-building!
This might be a working trip, and however fun your team-building activities are, your team still needs free time to just relax and recharge. Look for locations that offer good options for downtime.
Again, think about your people. Are they sporty and outdoorsy, culture hounds, shoppers or foodies? Ask them what they would enjoy and let this be another factor in choosing your location. Ashore selects our corporate retreat locations in settings that offer a range of leisure options such as:
For instance, if your team members need to decompress after an intensive focus session at The Grain Store in Lewes, they can head off for a ramble along the South Downs Way.
As much as offsites can be a breath of fresh air for your people, they can also be a challenge to organise and get right. Whether you want to improve your team’s communication skills, get some serious work done or simply give them a much-needed well-being experience, it’s crucial to invest the time in planning your team's offsite. If you put the work in before you go, you’ll ensure a productive and memorable offsite experience that your team will want to repeat.
To explore more great team offsite ideas for small groups, explore all of Ashore’s offsite options and locations.