You probably know someone who has recently been on an “offsite” with their team or company; you might actually know a lot of someones who have. In recent years, we’ve seen an increase in the attention and dollars organizations are willing to spend on building a company culture in the right way, and offsites have become a popular way to help do just that.
You might be thinking that an offsite sounds like something that someone came up with so they could have a ‘break’ that still counts as work. It’s easy to assume that. But the truth is, offsites are incredibly valuable ways to bring teams and leaders—even whole companies—together to build a greater vision for a company’s goals and future growth. So, yeah, some companies might take their teams to cooler places than others, but the value of an offsite isn’t lost no matter where you do it, as long as you do it right. We’ll talk about what it means to really throw a rock star offsite, but first, we should be clear on what the value of having an offsite really is.
It’s designated time and space for those really important questions you never seem to have time for.
We often get so caught up in the day-to-day busyness of running a business, and the focus on our immediate to-do list, that it’s difficult to provide the right amount of attention to our broader goals. Offsites are important, set-aside time for organizations to address the questions that they feel they don’t have time for, and it’s this lack of attention to these bigger issues which causes companies to stall before getting to the next level. Some of the stuff offsites commonly deal with include: determining/ reaffirming team and company values, setting a strategy to win, explicitly outlining a desired company culture, setting one, three, and five year goals, brainstorming big ideas to get to those goals, how to work so much better as a cohesive team, sharing feedback, and so on.
Having an offsite meeting sends a powerful message to everyone who works at your organization that you’re willing to take the time to address topics that aren’t simply at the surface level. By taking the time to meet and plan around what matters, you signal that you actually care about the future, not about just treading water today. Offsites are an investment in your overall culture, not just the three-day trip to Napa.
It creates a safe space for creativity.
Remember just a second ago when you read that offsites are a great opportunity to strategize about your future goals and come up with big and exciting ways to meet them? One of the reasons that’s true is because by getting people out of their own patterns and breaking their routines, you foster an environment for them to be much more creative. Something magical happens with teams outside of the office, and our coaches see this all the time: the same team that clams up in the office comes alive at the Hyatt just down the street. The novelty of a new space, the mindset that “we’re doing something different,” and the facilitated agenda opens up access to new ideas that wouldn’t have seen the light of day back at the office.
The second reason is that while most companies say that they want transparency, an open exchange of ideas, and a collaborative culture, it’s really hard to actually get there. Getting outside of the walls of your office helps you break down the barriers that the cubicles have subconsciously built up to create a safer space for ideas. These offsites truly can be judgment-free zones for leaders and team members alike to share ideas without the fear of looking stupid.
It builds relationships.
It’s often the case that remote workers haven’t met the people they work closely with, or they met back in 2017 but don’t see their faces outside of video conferencing. There is something powerful about spending time together in person, even just occasionally. Offsites provide the opportunity for employees to really connect in new and meaningful ways that enrich their remote working experience. Also, these meetings allow the opportunity for people to be themselves in a way they often feel they can’t in the office. People feel innate permission to share on a more personal level and to intentionally be more vulnerable which fosters connections that are very difficult to create in an office environment, remote or not.
You may think you don’t need to like who you work with, but that’s just not true– especially when we’re talking about members of a leadership team. If a foundational relationship among colleagues isn’t strong, it is almost impossible to constructively challenge ideas and hold peers accountable. Using offsites to find empathy and forge shared connections with colleagues makes it easier to like them. The more we like the people we work with, the easier it is to collaborate, share perspectives, and build the foundation of trust that’s key to an executive team.
It’s a time to recognize success
Who doesn’t love celebrating a win? Some companies are great at doing this consistently, but the minutia often gets in the way. If you have your whole team (or even the entire company, if you can swing it) at the offsite, what better opportunity is there to recognize burgeoning leaders, call out important successes for the company, and reward individuals and teams that have gone above and beyond their duty– especially in ways that support and reinforce your company’s culture? (Think: The Dundies, but less offensive and more effective.)
They’re just more fun than a typical day at the office (especially because Spectacular at Work offsites have a ‘No Trust Fall Guarantee’) if for no other reason—though there usually are other reasons—than it shakes up your routine. And one of our mottos is, “If it’s not fun, why do it?”
So yeah, offsites are a fun, cool way to get out of town (or even downtown… many of our clients are doing the city thing if they’re based in the burbs), and a nice ‘break’ from the routine, but they are also immensely important for the development of an organization’s culture and future. Offsites—whether they include the finance team, the whole company or just the leadership team—provide a valuable opportunity for you to show where your priorities lie: with your people, and that you have a vision for more than just the month ahead. The only question is: when’s your next offsite?