Let’s talk about offsite meetings and how to engage your team with brand new locations, meeting facilitators, and experiences. The office may be a safe and comfortable space, but it likely reminds everyone of work. An offsite meeting is a way to shake things up by providing a new location, which focuses the team on the meeting’s purpose and removes all office distractions.
This post will help you get your team out of their shells (and out of the office) with various offsite team retreat activities. We’ll discuss what it means to go “offsite,” how to hire a meeting facilitator or team building company, and share team building retreat ideas to engage and excite your team. Have a remote team? We’ve also included some company retreat activities for teams who can't make it offsite as easily.
What is an Offsite Meeting?
An offsite meeting occurs outside of your regular physical office. Offsite meetings are often used for team building, planning, and training purposes.
The chance to meet somewhere outside of the workplace helps team members focus on the purpose of the offsite meeting rather than the regular grind of the workday. Distractions are more present in the office than offsite, and the new location can offer excitement, intrigue, and a change of pace for the team.
Examples of an offsite meeting include company retreats, team building sessions, offsite training, holding a meeting at a local restaurant, holiday parties, and meetings held at a client’s workspace.
Hiring a Meeting Facilitator or Team Building Companies
One of the big decisions you have to make when planning an offsite retreat is whether or not you are going to bring on outside help. Hiring out has a couple of benefits.
Firstly, you are able to pass the reins over to people who have run retreats over and over again. Whether hiring a team building facilitator or a full on team building company, they have done this dozens, if not hundreds, of times before, so they know exactly what to expect and how to plan for the unexpected. This can take a huge burden off of managers and your retreat planning committee.
The second major benefit is that outside coordinators add to the offsite feel. If the idea is to shake things up and get the team thinking and working together from a new perspective, having an outside influence, rather than your own manager running the event, can help. The different voices can engage your team in new ways and pull them out of the regular work environment they are so accustomed to.
A team facilitator generally focuses on helping your team reach an outcome. It might be a fun outcome, such as learning different brainstorming techniques or working through a personality assessment. They might also help you work through a tough problem or establish a clear vision for moving forward as a team. All of these activities provide team building through the act of accomplishing something together.
A team building company will focus on team building more directly, and often the name of the game is pure enjoyment. The activities they present may help your team work together to solve a puzzle or learn a new skill, but the planned activities could also focus on having a fun or relaxing experience together outside of work. A team building company might plan a spa day for your team or take you to an escape room, followed by a shared meal at a local restaurant.
When choosing the best retreat option for your team, consider what you hope to accomplish.
- Do you want a planning session to realign your team on company goals?
- Do you want a brainstorming event to help your team improve their ideation, creative thinking, and problem solving skills?
- Do you want to get your team out into your local area to support other businesses in your community?
- Do you want an event that is purely based on enjoyment to allow your team a chance to unwind and relax outside of the work environment?
Team Retreat Ideas
Explore Your City
Get out into your local city together. Whether on foot, by bike, or using local transit, explore the world around your place of business.
Learn about the history of the area, explore local shops, find a museum, walk through a park, and find local places for food and drinks. The best part about this retreat idea is that you are able to support local businesses within your community.
Choose an activity that will allow your team to get active together. Offsite team building activities, such as hiking, yoga, dance classes, canoeing, or axe throwing, will provide a team building opportunity, along with a little bit of exercise. The movement and light physical activity will clear minds and promote engagement.
Run an Ideation Session
Brainstorming is a skill that everyone can participate in and improve upon. Running a brainstorming or ideation session will bring your team together around a common goal, help them hone their creative thinking skills, and provide the whole team with new tools for solving future problems.
Learn a New Skill
Learning something new as a team promotes team building and establishes trust. Choose an activity the team agrees on. What skills or lessons does your team want to work on together? The learning opportunity may be relevant to the workplace, but it doesn’t need to be. You may choose to learn a skill completely for the fun of it.
Some popular staff retreat activities that promote learning include photography, crafting, Photoshop, public speaking, meditation, and cooking.
Solve a Puzzle
Solving a puzzle together as a team will stimulate your team’s problem solving skills and promote collaboration. Both virtual and in-person escape rooms offer the opportunity to flex your problem solving muscles while interacting with a story or theme.
Take it back to basics and play some good old fashioned games. Bring out the board games gathering dust in your cupboards or invest in a set of classic games for the workplace. This is an ideal opportunity to ask the team for some input. What board games do they enjoy most? What games do they remember from their childhood?
Ensure you have a variety of games, including ones that don’t take a long time to fully complete. Monopoly may be a cherished childhood favorite, but chances are you don’t have the time (or the patience) to play more than one round of that game.
Take Time to Relax
Sometimes the best type of retreat is one with very little going on. It’s okay to take a break together and relax. Give your team a chance to unwind and rest their bodies and minds. Some options include having a meal prepared, going out for drinks, getting massages, getting manicures or pedicures, or practicing mindfulness.
Read our article on office team building: Why Team Building is Important and How We Do It at Blue Summit Supplies.
Virtual Team Offsite Ideas
Team building is essential for virtual teams. Employees that work remotely don’t get the same natural opportunities to engage and get to know each other. Building rapport across a team is essential for keeping morale high and ensuring trust is present and continually developed.
What does an “offsite” meeting mean for remote teams? The offsite definition may be stretched here when we’re speaking about virtual teams, but the premise and intention are the same—bringing the team together away from their regular work schedules for a specific purpose. The purpose of a virtual offsite meeting is usually to train, plan, and team build.
Meet In Person
In some cases, it is possible to bring your virtual team together in a physical space for an offsite meeting. If your team works at home but in the same city or state, it can be easier to get together for a day or multiple days of training/team building.
Even if your team is based across the country or world, some businesses invest in one in-person offsite team building session a year or every few years to give the team a chance to actually meet each other in person. This sort of incentive can be costly, but it can do wonders for team dynamics, morale, and commitment to the company.
Harness Virtual Reality
Virtual reality isn’t reserved for video games anymore. If you want to bring your team together “offsite,” you can do so using a virtual reality headset. While this idea may sound costly, any offsite meeting is going to come with plenty of costs for the location, travel expenses, food, etc. There are a few different companies harnessing the power of virtual reality to help businesses host virtual meetings and events.
With a headset, you can be absolutely anywhere, virtually transporting your team to an offsite location away from their usual workspace. If you go this route, just make sure your team is on board and interested in this style.
Bring on an Outside Meeting Facilitator
Bringing on a meeting facilitator who isn’t a part of your team or company will change the pace of the meeting. While this isn’t the same as truly bringing your whole team offsite, hiring a facilitator is an option for teams who are unable to physically meet offsite.
The outside voice will bring in a new perspective and help the team focus on the purpose of the meeting rather than the regular grind of work. The facilitator will set the tone of the meeting and guide your team through either team building, training, or a combination of both.
Bring an Offsite Meal to Them
The point of an offsite meeting is to pull the team away from their regular workspace for a change of pace and a chance to refocus. If you are unable to pull your team physically from their workspace at home, bring some of the outside world to them.
Have a catered meal delivered to each of your team members’ homes. This little piece of the outside world will allow employees to take their minds away from the regular workday for training, planning, team building, or an all-hands meeting.
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