Our new team had our first off-site meeting last week. It was great! Has your team discovered the value in off-sites? Why are meetings like this so valuable?
You break your routine. Not all routine is bad, but new thinking can be hard to find in old routines. Why do you think it’s called routine?
You can extend your days. At the office, it’s hard to get people to work until midnight – day after day. Obviously, you wouldn’t want to. But the off-sites that I find most productive are those with extremely long days. You have TIME to wrestle with big issues – no arbitrary, “we’re going to stop at 5:00” thoughts to deal with.
You can deepen community more quickly. One of the elements needed to create community is time together. If you’re normally with someone a few hours a week at the office, spending several long days together can accelerate the development of community.
You are making memories. Off-sites done well are memorable. Sometimes the elements you plan, and often the things you don’t plan, create the memories your team will talk about for years.
You can have more fun than you can at the office. We try to have fun at the office – but let’s face it, most offices aren’t that fun! However, new and innovative ideas are most frequently birthed in the context of fun. Off-sites can provide that setting.
If you see the benefits, you may be wondering how to pull it off. My first advice is to relax. There is no magic formula. Be creative. Create an event that meets the needs of your team. Here are few ideas to consider.
Venue matters – A hotel meeting room can work, but it’s my last choice. Is there a house you can rent? Maybe someone on your team owns a vacation property or a second home. The more relaxed the setting the better.
Dress code – What dress code? CASUAL is all you have to say. Shorts, flip-flops, t-shirts – you are not at the office. I attended an all guys off-site once, and one gentleman didn’t get out of his pajamas for almost three days.
Big work – You need real work to do. Create a strategic plan, design a structure for your business, affirm or create core values. Don’t waste an opportunity like this by just having your normal monthly meeting.
Agenda – Try to accomplish a lot. Be aggressive. This single act creates a self-imposed urgency and a great dynamic. Assuming you’re working on something meaningful, the time constraints you’ve created will add energy to the entire event.
Fun matters – Don’t work EVERY minute. Stop, take an extended break, go out to dinner, have a cookout, play a game.
The next time you need fresh thinking on a big project, consider an off-site![GLS_Shield]