If you’re anything like us here at TravelPerk, you love a good annual (or if you’re lucky, biannual) off-site team. This is a great opportunity to get together with the people you work with, get inspired, align goals, make some memories, and most likely witness at least one of your colleagues jumping into the pool fully clothed. Oh yes, it has happened to us.
When you search for “better off-site teams,” you typically find images of happy colleagues sitting together in a rural retreat, by some sort of body of water, or playing childish games like adults, beaming smiles at the camera. And while things like location, team-building games, food, and amenities can make or break an offsite, it’s really the planning that really sets it apart. Think of an off-site as your favorite cake – it’s not enough to have all the ingredients, you have to mix them up the right way and in the right order to make it fluffy and delicious.
That’s why we decided to give you our secret recipe for the best possible offsite gear. Your external agenda is the key to the entire event, so here’s how to get started.
laying the foundations
Before you can get into the nitty-gritty of your outside meeting agenda, you must first have a general idea. Ask yourself these questions as you begin planning this exciting event:
- How long do you want this event to last?
Normally we recommend 2 days with 1 night stay. Anything less than that makes for a more casual team building event rather than an off-site one, and anything that’s too long can take up too much personal time from your colleague. This is our sweet spot!
- When do you want the offsite to take place?
Choosing the right day of the week is just as important as choosing the right season to go. We are based in Barcelona, which is why we like to take advantage of the sea and the sun. That’s why we tend to run our main external sites in September and October, right after the holidays so people are nice and rested, but not so far into the third quarter that people are overwhelmed with work. We also suggest running your external site Thursday through Friday. People tend to be more excited towards the end of the week, and this way you’re not taking time away from their weekends!
- Where will your offsite take place?
Make sure you have chosen a location that is not too close or too far from your pickup point. He wants people to feel like they are being taken away, but not sent to Timbuktu.
- What kind of offsite is it going to be?
That is, you need to decide if you want this to be primarily a bonding experience for teammates or if it has more of a strategic component. “Both” is a perfectly legitimate answer! You can plan a great kick-off, for example, where you discuss goals, goals, and strategies for the coming year, and you can add some fun team-building activities as you go!
- What is your budget?
Keep an eye on your budget. It’s very easy to overspend or underspend, and both situations can be the death of your external site. Understand what you can do with the money you’ve been given and try to think outside the box when using it!
- Who attends?
This may seem silly because the obvious answer is “the whole team”. But actually, it’s not such an easy question. You have to think about employees in different situations; For example, does it include off-site contractors? What about colleagues sitting between multiple teams? What do you do with team members from different centers? You need to decide the parameters of who your external site is for and adjust accordingly.
Our only offsite team meeting agenda template
Before you leave
- Set up a Slack channel for your team where they can ask any questions ahead of time related to the upcoming off-site. People will definitely want to ask you questions, especially if your event has a night component.
- Order your speakers. One of the main purposes of an off-site team meeting is for everyone within that team to gain visibility into what everyone else is doing. That’s why it’s important that you get a speaker from each “subteam” to get some airtime to explain what they’ve been up to and what’s coming next.
- Assign a designated note taker. It’s always helpful to record these sessions, either digitally or by asking people to take notes for the team. Meeting minutes will end up being very useful when colleagues go back to their daily tasks and need to start developing a plan of action!
early thursday morning
- Get the team together bright and early (but not too soon, you don’t want grumpy faces in the photos) at a designated location where they will be picked up by transportation. Give them 15 minutes to get there before you take off!
- Take time for coffee and snacks upon arrival. Give people time to check in, settle into their rooms, and provide them with coffee and snacks to make them feel more comfortable and welcome. And do not stay with the boring cookies without chocolate!
Thursday afternoon morning – afternoon
- Gather everyone in one space. Typically, a conference room-style setup is best and most comfortable for upcoming sessions. Make sure everyone has a place to sit and provide them with a notebook and some pens, as well as bottles of water.
- Start by reviewing the agenda items. Tell your team what to expect the next day and allow time for questions.
- Get rolling with some icebreaker games! Setting up a fun quiz on apps like Kahoot can really get people familiar with things. Asking questions about other team members and company data can be a fun way for people to get to know each other! You can also think of games like two truths and a lie, guess that childhood photo, or have a bad joke contest!
- Start your round of featured sessions. Give each team a set amount of time to do retrospectives on what they’ve been doing, highlight significant ongoing or upcoming projects, share what they’re planning, or walk you through important metrics. About 30 minutes for each should be enough! Start with 2-3 of these sessions.
Thursday afternoon – early evening
- Break for lunch! Don’t try to torpedo people into listening to 6 hours straight of presentations. After about 2.5-3 hours, give them an hour for lunch to chat and recharge.
- Resume featured sessions. Continue with another 2-3 highlight sessions after lunch. Make sure you have given each team enough time to present what they had planned and leave a few minutes at the end of each session for questions.
- Run a creative group activity. Divide your team into smaller groups of about 5 or 6 and give them a challenging and creative task. This can be anything from a simple brainstorming session on an upcoming project to a full-scale strategic planning session for a fictional situation. The idea here is to mix people with team members they don’t necessarily work with on a daily basis and challenge them to think outside the box. This will really help you connect with each other and hone your problem solving skills!
- Finish the day’s work. End the day’s workshop sessions with a brief summary of what was covered that day. Show people what’s in store for them that night and lay the groundwork for your action items for the next day.
- Give people some free time. The day has been intense, they deserve a break! Let people go back to their rooms, freshen up, take a nap, or call their families. You’d be surprised how many of them will decide to use this time to hang out together anyway!
- Get people together for dinner. Don’t forget to feed the people! A fun dinner is a great way to wrap up an exciting first day of workshops and team building. It’s also a great opportunity for members of the leadership team to say a few words in a more informal setting and really get people pumped for what’s to come.
- It is party time. Let’s be honest. Your teammates want to party. That is one of the great advantages of an off-site company or team! This is where friendships really start to blossom and memories are made without people thinking and talking about OKRs, planning meetings, and optimizing workflows.
- Start your day off right with a team breakfast. Don’t be too early and let people get some sleep to recover from last night’s party. Our advice is to gather people around 9 or 10 in the morning and give them a good breakfast!
- Do a fun team building activity. Think outside the box and get people to do something new and interesting! Maybe it’s a scavenger hunt in the woods. Maybe it’s an egg throwing contest from the roof of your lodging building. Maybe it’s a human knot. Either way, get people moving and thinking creatively!
- Let people collect their things and provide an optional lunch. Let people finish your offsite their way. Some may want to pack up and have a light lunch with their teammates. Others may want to continue having fun and go for a walk with their colleagues. Give people the option to end the event the way they want.
- Get everyone back home! Make sure everyone is aware of the designated dismissal time. Always give 10-15 minutes to make sure everyone has everything. Finish the event without stress!
After the event
Once the event is over, there are a few things you need to do to make sure everyone gets the most out of the experience:
- Send a follow-up email everyone asking for feedback on this event. Include the link to a short survey where you can understand what you did well and where you can improve.
- Share meeting notes of Spotlight sessions with the whole team. They will certainly come in handy when teams start making plans for the next quarter!
- Give everyone access to a photo folder. Event photos always put a smile on people’s faces!
- Carefully review your budget after the event. Save all receipts and invoices for your finance team and for your own reference for future events.
- Get ready for your next event!