Getting your team out of the office can be an excellent way to boost their creativity and motivation. Offsite meetings allow your team to discuss long-term goals and larger business strategies or dedicate time to making progress on complex projects without the distractions of the office.
It also gives departments and colleagues the chance to collaborate with people they typically don’t work with regularly, creating a hotbed of innovative ideas to grow your business.
While offsite meetings offer numerous benefits, they are challenging to organize and execute. The key to running a successful offsite meeting is extensive pre-planning, including choosing a location, determining an agenda, and sourcing promotional products for participants to ensure the experience is memorable and rewarding for all the participants.
Discover everything you need to know about organizing and running a successful offsite meeting to keep your team motivated and boost your business.
There is no need to break the bank when planning an offsite meeting. Although you want it to be a memorable and enjoyable experience, it is critical to determine where you should save and where to splurge.
The venue is typically allocated for most of the budget, followed by food and transportation costs. To allocate enough funding for each element of the meeting, you need to consider how many people will be attending and the meeting length. For example, a day trip will be less expensive than a week-long retreat. Locations and venues near the office will often be cheaper than traveling several hours away.
If you have a set budget to work with, keep 10% aside for extraneous costs, and then divide the remainder by the number of people to determine the allowable cost per person. This allows you to find a venue, catering, and transport within your budget. If you have clients or investors also attending the meeting, set aside some room in your budget for corporate gifts for clients to welcome them to the event.
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Book your venue and transport well in advance of the offsite. Consider the number of people attending and the types of activities the group will participate in, such as seminars or collaborative work. You’ll need to ensure that your venue can accommodate your group and have facilities like conference rooms, audio-visual tech, and wireless internet.
You should also ask your venue if they provide food and beverage service (which can streamline your planning) or if you need to hire catering. Often, it is more cost-effective to choose a venue with a restaurant or onsite catering service, allowing guests to enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dinner on location.
However, for a single day event, offsite catering can add an extra special touch to the occasion. Make sure that you account for dietary restrictions and allergies among guests.
The transport you schedule depends on the location of the meeting. If you are planning a multi-day retreat out-of-state, chartering a bus or flight can be a simple way to ensure everyone arrives on time. Organize a shuttle or ride-share convoy departing from a central location for offsite meetings close to the office.
A meeting agenda is a list of talking points, topics, action items, and activities you want to discuss during the meeting.
It is crucial to plan and send a meeting agenda at least a week before the meeting date. This ensures that participants can send back suggestions or contributions that they would like to make to the meeting.
Break down the agenda into time slots, focusing on areas that promote productivity like brainstorming and problem-solving and leaving recreational activities for later in the day.
Allocate around 45 minutes to 2 hours for each slot, depending on its importance. This ensures that topics can be discussed in depth. Make sure you have a specific objective for each topic: a leadership presentation, SWOT analysis, or strategy discussions.
You should also include the names of the group members who will facilitate each part of the agenda. This ensures that everyone is aware of their responsibilities and can plan their presentations or activities accordingly.
After sharing the agenda, it is essential to assign pre-work or reading assignments so that everyone is prepared to engage in the meeting activities on the day rather than wasting time getting everyone up to speed.
For example, if your offsite meeting is meant to find solutions to a problem with a project, provide all offsite participants with a brief of the project issues and have everyone brainstorm five potential solutions with an action plan for each.
You should also take the time to develop materials for the meeting. Create a template for handouts needed for each session, organize and print documents, and develop digital presentations. All materials should be reviewed and vetted by session facilitators before finalizing.
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Team building activities offer a welcome break from the work-based parts of the offsite meeting. They allow team members to build a rapport, get to know each other, improve their communication, resolve conflict, and problem-solve together.
Choose team-building activities based on the group’s interests or to correspond with the theme or focus of the meeting. Send out a questionnaire before the offsite meeting to ask about team building activity preferences.
Some excellent team-building activities include participating in a ropes course, solving an escape room, or engaging in a scavenger hunt. Make sure you have prizes, like a custom gift box, as an incentive for team members’ participation in activities that may be out of their comfort zone.
Following the meeting, hand out feedback forms or send a survey via email or via iPad Surveys to get feedback on the meeting. Feedback provides quantifiable data that you can use the next time you need to plan an offsite meeting.
In the survey, ask questions about the venue, amenities, and team-bonding activities and ask the employees to rate them. Ask questions about whether the employees felt the meeting was productive and moved them and the company further toward their goals. Finally, provide a space for unstructured feedback, allowing the respondents to make any additional comments.
Ensure the survey is anonymous to protect the respondents’ privacy. It also makes people more willing to be truthful on the form, so you get more accurate data.
An offsite meeting is effective when it is well designed and sparks passionate discussion and a commitment to see the company goals through to completion. When participants feel heard and understand the company’s vision, mission, and expectations, you c