Planning a company off-site for your team but don’t know where to start? This article goes through the different steps you will want to consider, including a free checklist to help you get started.
As a big fan of the home office, it is important for me to make time to connect with my colleagues (and by this, I don’t mean just connecting with them on LinkedIn). EqualTo does provide office space for its teams in Berlin and Warsaw and we hold regular activities such as dinners or going bowling. However, nothing quite beats an off-site in Crete: sharing local Greek cuisine, relaxing by the beach, and trekking down a gorge with your colleagues.
Apart from giving your team a great location for them to work, there are many other reasons why you may want to plan an off-site or company retreat. EqualTo’s CEO, Diarmuid, explains his reasoning behind arranging these company off-sites.
“Our off-sites provide a strong foundation for our culture so that we can maintain a great work environment, even as we rapidly expand the team. The social connections formed during an off-site help foster the trust that makes for a resilient team. Furthermore, it's a fantastic perk for our team to enjoy.”
So now that you are convinced to set a date for a team vacation, you may be wondering how to organize such a significant group trip– and for your team to get as much out of it as possible. Here is a list of 5 ways to ace your company off-site:
We recommend planning your trip a few months before– and I mean to the minute. It may be tempting to leave some things to spontaneity, but it's best to have a fully mapped-out plan so you can arrive at your destination with a clear mind. This includes making sure all restaurants and activities are booked and that you have tested the internet in the working space (our hotel had excellent internet which even worked on the beach!). Finally, plan a budget and stick to it: it may seem that a few more starters will have little impact but the costs will add up.
That being said, sometimes things don’t go as planned. If the weather isn’t suitable, have a backup plan for the boat trip you arranged. One day, some people may want to stay at the hotel, so make sure it has good facilities. In case someone becomes injured or unwell, ensure you know how to access medical resources in the vicinity. A big tip is to negotiate with your event organizer about the flexibility of plus or minus people: some people may drop out of the trip or some may want to join last minute. Finally, mentally prepare yourself for the possibility that some things may not go smoothly.
An off-site isn’t just about working in a nice location, it is important to let your team enjoy the new place they are in. To do this, you can reduce working hours and think of the off-time as team building. If you are worried about a reduction in productivity, one way our Sales Team dealt with this was to hold a competition. It provided a fun challenge for the team but also helped them focus. Mihaela of our Sales Team commented that,
“During the week in Crete, the competition within the sales team made my productivity and motivation level go off the charts. That, and the combination of amazing people and a great location.”
It is also important to have chill time, not every day has to be full of excursions. Let your team relax at the hotel or do their own sightseeing as they wish. Also, make sure your team members have their own space and definitely their own room (so avoid shared hostel rooms).
Make sure there are activities that take into account the diversity of your team. You can’t please everyone but you can do your best to accommodate different needs. One main thing to consider is the dietary requirements of the team. Devise a questionnaire and make sure activities are planned that take the responses into account. One of our favorite restaurants we went to was a vegan restaurant that was loved equally by the vegans and non-vegans on our team.
We recommend getting a good guide who knows local places, has insider knowledge, can speak the language, and knows what to do in an emergency. We recommend asking around to see if someone can recommend a guide in your preferred region and make sure to check references.
While off-sites take a lot of planning, they are the key to preserving your company’s culture, especially if you are primarily a remote company. I hope this list will help you to plan and implement a great off-site that significantly benefits both your team and your company.
Reflecting on my past 20 years in the b2b software industry, there is a clear trend towards better UX.