If you’re anything like us here at TravelPerk, you love a good annual (or if you’re lucky, biannual) team offsite. This is a great opportunity to get together with the people you work with, get inspired, align objectives, create a few memories, and more than likely witness at least one of your colleagues jump in the pool fully clothed. Oh yes, it’s happened to us.
When you search for “best team offsites”, you normally find pictures of happy colleagues sitting together at a rural retreat, by some kind of body of water, or playing childhood games as adults, with smiles beaming at the camera. And while things like location, teambuilding games, food, and amenities can make or break an offsite - it’s actually the planning of it that’s really what sets it apart. Think of an offsite like your favorite cake - it’s not enough to just have all the ingredients, you have to mix them together in the right way and in the right order to make it all fluffy and delicious.
That’s why we decided to give you our secret recipe for the best team offsite possible. Your offsite agenda is the key to the entire event, so here’s how to get started.
Laying the groundwork
Before you can get into the nitty-gritty of your offsite meeting agenda, you need to get the big picture first. Ask yourself these questions as you start planning this exciting event:
- How long do you want this event to be?
We normally recommend 2 days with 1 overnight stay. Less than that makes it a more casual teambuilding event rather than an offsite, and anything too much longer can take too much of your colleague’s personal time. This is our sweet spot!
- When do you want the offsite to take place?
Picking the right day of the week is just as important as picking the right season to go. We’re headquartered in Barcelona, so we like to take advantage of the sea and the sun. That’s why we tend to run our main offsites in September and October - just after the holidays so people are nice and rested, but not so far into Q3 that people are overwhelmed with work. We also suggest running your offsite from Thursday to Friday. People tend to be more enthusiastic 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’ve chosen a location that isn’t too close or too far away from your pick-up point. You want people to feel like they’re being whisked away, but not like they’re being shipped off to Timbuktu.
- What type of offsite is it going to be?
Namely, 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 objectives, goals, and strategies for the next year - and you can sprinkle in a few fun team-building activities as you go!
- What’s your budget?
Keep an eye out for your budget. It’s very easy to over or underspend, and both situations can be the death of your offsite. Understand what you can do with the money that you’ve been given, and try to think outside the box when you use it!
- Who is attending?
This might seem silly because the obvious answer is “the entire team”. But actually, it’s not such an easy question. You have to think about employees in different situations - for example, do you include contractors in your offsite? What about colleagues who sit between multiple teams? What do you do with team members from different hubs? You have to decide the parameters of who your offsite is for and adjust it accordingly.
Our one and only offsite team meeting agenda template
Before you go
- Set up a Slack channel for your team where they can ask any questions in advance pertaining to the upcoming offsite. People will no doubt want to ask you things, especially if your event involves an overnight component.
- Sort out your speakers. One of the main purposes of an offsite team meeting is for everyone within that team to gain visibility over what everyone else is doing. That’s why it’s important for you to get a speaker from each “sub-team” to get a little bit of air time to explain what they’ve been up to and what’s coming next.
- Assign a designated note-taker. It’s always useful to record these sessions, whether that’s digitally or by asking people to take notes for the team. Meeting minutes will end up being very useful when colleagues get back to their daily tasks and need to start developing an action plan!
Thursday early morning
- Have the team meet bright and early (but not too early, you don’t want grumpy faces in the pictures) at a designated location where they will be picked up by transport. Give them 15 minutes of leeway to arrive before you take off!
- Make 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, don’t get the boring biscuits with no chocolate on them!
Thursday late morning - afternoon
- Gather everyone in one space. Normally a conference room-style setup is best and most comfortable for the sessions ahead. Make sure everyone has a place to sit and provide them with a notebook and some pens, as well as water bottles.
- Start by going through the agenda items. Tell your team what to expect out of the next day or so, and leave time for questions.
- Get the ball rolling with a few icebreaker games! Setting up a fun quiz on apps like Kahoot can really get people into the swing of things. Asking them questions about other team members and about company facts can be a fun way for people to get to know one another! You can also think about games like two truths and a lie, guess that childhood photo, or have a bad joke contest!
- Launch into your round of spotlight sessions. Give each team a fixed amount of time to run retrospectives on what they’ve been doing, highlight significant ongoing or upcoming projects, share what they’re planning, or take you through important metrics. About 30 minutes for each should do the trick! 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 of presentations in a row. After about 2.5 - 3 hours, give them an hour’s lunch break to chat and refuel.
- Resume spotlight sessions. Keep going with another 2-3 spotlight sessions after lunch. Make sure you’ve 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. Break your team into smaller groups of about 5 or 6 and assign them a challenging and creative task. This can be anything from a simple brainstorming session about an upcoming project to a full-scale strategic planning session for a fictitious situation. The idea here is to mix people up with team members they don’t necessarily work with on a daily basis and give them a challenge to think out of the box. This will really help them connect with one another and will hone their problem-solving skills!
- Wrap up the day’s work. Finish the day’s workshop sessions with a short recap of what was covered that day. Take people through what’s in store for them that evening and touch base on your action items for the next day.
- Give people a bit of free time. The day’s 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 at 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 people! A fun dinner is a great way to wrap up an exciting first day of workshopping and team building. It’s also an excellent opportunity for leadership team members to say a few words in a more casual setting and really get people motivated for what’s to come.
- It’s party time. Let’s face it. Your teammates want to party. That’s one of the big perks of a company or team offsite! 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 the day right with a team breakfast. Don’t make it too early and let people sleep in a little to recover from the party the night before. Our tip is to get people together around 9 or 10 in the morning and give them a hearty breakfast!
- Run a fun teambuilding activity. Think out of the box and make people do something new and interesting! Maybe it's a scavenger hunt in the woods. Maybe it’s an egg drop contest from the roof of your accommodation building. Maybe it’s a human knot. Either way, get people moving and thinking creatively!
- Let people gather their things and provide an optional lunch. Let people wrap up their offsite in their own way. Some might want to pack and have a light lunch with teammates. Others might want to keep the fun going and go for a walk with their colleagues. Give people the option to finish the event the way they want to.
- Get everyone back home! Make sure everyone is aware of the designated departure time. Always give 10-15 minutes of leeway to make sure everyone has got everything. Finish off the event stress-free!
After the event
Once the event is over, there are a few things you should do to make sure everyone got the most out of the experience:
- Send a follow-up email to everyone asking for feedback on this event. Include the link to a short survey where you can understand what you did right and where there’s room for improvement.
- Share the meeting notes from the spotlight sessions with the whole team. They will no doubt come in handy when teams start making plans for the upcoming quarter!
- Give everyone access to a photo folder. Photos from events always put a smile on people’s faces!
- Carefully review your budget after the fact. Keep all receipts and invoices for your finance team and for your own reference for upcoming events.
- Get ready for your next event!
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