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Tips for planning your next team offsite or gathering.

Updated: May 27, 2022

With remote work being the new normal, teams are looking for new ways to connect in person. If you're burnt out on Zoom meetings or just need a way to get your team together for some bonding time, an Offsite could be the solution. A team offsite is typically a 2-5 day retreat where a company will gather employees at a single location for strategic meetings and workshops. They can be amazing for team building, bonding and alignment if done properly. Our name isn't a coincidence here, we've spent lots of time working through team needs when it comes to these important events, and we've compiled our tips for you here.

Make sure you have clear objectives.

Set clear objectives. This is the first thing you need to do when planning your team offsite. If you don't have a clear set of goals and know what you want to achieve, you're fighting an uphill battle. Consider using the S.M.A.R.T. method for these. If you're not familiar, it stands for Simple, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound. Setting this up from day one will allow you to check the rest of your decisions against these objectives.

Pick a place. This one is obvious, but also the most crucial step. Choose wisely, and you'll be a hero to your team. Pick poorly, and the retreat could devolve into a Lord of the Flies situation...just kidding - but seriously, do your due diligence here and make sure the place will create an environment that allows you to fulfil your objectives. Every space you choose should have the following::

  1. Individual rooms for your entire team - this isn't summer camp!

  2. Fast Wi-fi and designated work areas - you want to actually get things done...

  3. Any food and amenities either on site or nearby, so you don't spend 3 hours driving to the grocery store every day.

  4. Options for down time. Your team needs to get inspired, recharged and motivated when you're not grinding! A pool and bar are nice, but you should look for things that will stimulate the mind.

Offsite is designed around all of these needs. We've put the remote worker and team retreat at the core of our campgrounds, so you can rest assured that we have this decision covered!

Create an agenda. The last thing you want to do is start planning this the day before. Harvard Business Review lays out a plan that has you beginning to structure your offsite 3 months before it happens. This may vary by the size of your team and the length of your offsite, but make sure you have ample time to get this laid out. You're going to want to zero in on the following items. Don't schedule more than four topics per day to a team, otherwise you're going to face burnout! Your agenda should address :

  • Topics of discussion. What are you going to be addressing during each session?

  • Specific objectives for each topic. Again, check the topics against the objectives for the team offsite, and make sure everything aligns!

  • How will you engage on this topic? Small groups, all-hands, panel discussion, etc.

  • The length of time dedicated to the topic.

  • Any prep work that should get done beforehand. This may be a questionnaire, worksheet, list of concerns and so forth that need to be done by either your leaders or the team.

Pro-Tip : Maybe don't dedicate a block of time to trust falls and ice-breaker games. Your team will thank you.

Determine who is leading and how teams are divided. It's important to make sure there's a clear leader for each session. If you're a small team, this may be one person, but if you have multiple departments you may have to coordinate with multiple team leads. Also, will you silo each division, or plan for strategic merging of teams for certain topics? Offsites can be a great opportunity to get teams who rarely work together some collaboration time.

Receive Feedback. After all is said and done, make sure to get feedback from everyone who attended. It's best to do this anonymously and quickly so that no one feels obliged to be polite, and everything is fresh in their minds. Once you have the feedback, make sure to translate it into specific and actionable improvements for the next one. This is the best way to ensure it's even better next time!

Interested in hosting a team offsite? Reach out to us and we can help you plan a successful team building experience. There's no better way to be remote, especially when your team is all together.


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