offsite meeting

Have you ever gone to the office and felt like you needed a change of scenery to jumpstart some new and fresh ideas? Or that you want to engage in fun activities with your colleagues in order to get to know them better? An offsite meeting is the answer to these questions.

An offsite meeting is an interesting alternative to regular, in-office meetings. It is typically organized at a different location than the office, such as a hotel or park. Many companies plan an offsite meeting to take a break from the work environment and recultivate team morale. However, unless it is done strategically, it can end up being more disruptive than beneficial. 

That’s why it’s important to plan your offsite meeting carefully, ensuring that the activities you include are cohesive and will actually promote team-building.

Benefits of an Offsite Meeting

An offsite meeting allows team members to collectively reach a desired goal in a different environment than the office. Here are some benefits of an offsite meeting.

  • A change in location fosters creativity and allows employees to come up with new ideas. 
  • Different departments who do not usually work together get the opportunity to collaborate.
  • Employees can get a headstart on a new project by sharing their vision and expectations.
  • It boosts the morale and productivity of employees.
  • Employees who are usually shy can get a chance to speak their thoughts.  

How to Plan an Offsite Meeting

Let’s see the steps to plan an successful offsite meeting.

1. Assign a Budget

You can start planning the company offsite by deciding its budget. This will help you determine how much you can splurge on the venue and catering. 

2. Decide on the Location, Transportation, and Food

Once you have finalized your budget, you can narrow down on the logistics of the offsite meeting. You’ll have to determine where you want to have the company offsite, how you will get there, and what you will eat.

Tips for location:

  • The venue should be spacious enough to accommodate your invitees
  • It should support your tech (A/V gadgets, WiFi, etc.)
  • The location should be conveniently accessible for all attendees
  • Restrooms and parking space should be easily accessible at the venue

Tips for transportation: 

  • If you are providing transportation, plan the logistics accordingly, including time required to reach the venue, parking options, etc.

Tips for food:

  • Avoid serving heavy food or alcohol so that participants can stay focused and energized
  • Take dietary restrictions and allergies into consideration
  • Ensure that the attendees are well-hydrated and that you have enough meals according to the duration of your company offsite meeting

3. Determine your Goals for the Offsite 

Defining goals for your meeting is essential to help you create an agenda and focus on what’s important. Make sure you’re clear about what you want to achieve from the offsite meeting before it starts so that you can ascertain whether it was successful afterward. Usually, companies host an offsite meeting to kickstart a new project but there can be multiple other objectives apart from that. 

Also, trying to accomplish too many things in one meeting could make it difficult to focus on anything specific and result in an overall unproductive meeting. So, make sure that you are clear on the objective beforehand. 

Some of the goals for a company offsite could be:

  • Strategizing to increase sales pipeline for business
  • Conducting a brainstorming session for a project
  • Discussing long-term strategies
  • Improving team awareness and accountability

4. Create an Agenda That Reflects Those Goals

A meeting agenda is a plan that ensures an effective and efficient meeting. It outlines the meeting’s purpose, points of discussion, and assigned action items with corresponding time estimates. Hence, tracking the agenda helps prevent the meeting from running over time and ensures every activity is given the attention it needs.

Your agenda can include:

  • Detailed plan of the organizer’s duties 
  • Responsibilities of each employee if you have delegated the work, including booking the venue and caterers, sending out invites, and coordinating with attendees.
  • Topics of discussion during the meeting (team performance, company growth, vision of the organization, etc.)
  • Delivery mode for each objective (presentations, speeches, discussions, and Q&A sessions)
  • Amount of time you want to allot to each activity
  • Owner of each activity 

Make sure that your agenda aligns with the objective of the offsite meeting and the interests of the participants so that you get maximum results.

5. Prepare Activity Templates and Communication Material

As an organizer, it is crucial for you to ensure that the company offsite is engaging and strategically planned. Before the meeting, make sure you have all the materials needed in order to capture the progress that’s been made. 

Some activities might require you to create templates beforehand, like scorecards and KPI dashboards. If you don’t take these templates to the meeting, you likely won’t be able to complete these activities.

You should also prepare material to communicate your objectives, for example, a kickstart meeting presentation that highlights your goals.

6. Assign a Facilitator 

A meeting facilitator ensures that the attendees are clear on the objective of the meeting, engages all participants in team activities, and sparks productive conversations at the meeting. He also keeps conversations flowing smoothly and makes sure that everyone has a chance to share their thoughts. He has the necessary skills required to lead a group to the desired outcome. 

Usually, a facilitator is the go-to person for any questions regarding the meeting and is the one responsible for communicating the meeting agenda prior to the meeting. Additionally, if there are any bottlenecks during the meeting or someone isn’t following meeting etiquette, the facilitator will step in and resolve the issue. 

7. Communicate the Goals and Agenda with the Invitees

When you start planning, it’s important to set the intent for the meeting and the expectations you have from the participants. Communicating the objectives and agenda of the meeting with the attendees allows them to prepare and plan for the meeting accordingly. Tell about the offsite meeting at least 3-4 days in advance to spark excitement and allow them to think about what points they want to bring to the discussion. 

Additionally, you can share pre-reading material with the participants so that they can get some context on the purpose of the meeting. For example, if you have a meeting for a particular project, you can send out related case studies so that the participants can get a chance to brainstorm.

8. Plan Meaningful Activities

When planning an offsite meeting, it’s important to have a mix of work and play. Try to include ice-breaking activities that are conversational and playful in between serious sessions. Such activities enhance the creativity of employees as it allows them to come up with fresh ideas to solve business problems. Furthermore, the activities also help foster teamwork, collaboration, and team building, all of which are crucial for any organization.

Some activities could be:

  • A compliment round table – for employees to feel appreciated
  • Office trivia contest
  • Go kart racing
  • Improv games
  • Cooking activities
  • Jigsaw puzzle competition

Tips to Have a Successful Offsite Meeting

Here are some tips you can follow to ensure that the company offsite meeting is successful.

1. Be Strategic About who you Want to Invite

Depending on the objective of the meeting, you will have to decide whom to invite. For example, if the goal is team awareness and bonding, you can invite most people from the organization. However, if you are having a company offsite for strategic discussions and long-term goal setting, it is crucial to limit the members to the core team. 

Usually, a large number of participants can only allow for surface-level discussion, whereas an only-executives team meeting is more appropriate for making higher-level decisions. 

2. Set Ground Rules

Employees are expected to follow certain rules to maintain the productivity and decorum of the offsite meeting. These guidelines also help to ensure that all attendees have the freedom to speak their opinion without the mockery of other people. For instance, if an employee verbally attacks someone or name-calls, then strict action will be taken against them. 

A few other basic ground rules include 100% participation from attendees, reaching the meeting 10 minutes prior, being prepared for discussions, and so forth.

3. Have Reliable Tech

Ensure that you have reliable technology to support your meeting requirements. For example, if you are planning on having presentations and speeches, you will need a projector, microphone, and quality sound setup. 

Additionally, make sure that the chosen location is compatible with these types of equipment. This will save you a lot of stressful troubleshooting on the day of the meeting.

4. Keep the Scope Narrow

Trying to accomplish too many goals at once during a meeting is a recipe for disaster. You might be tempted to take on multiple objectives, but this will only lead to frustration and a feeling of not having accomplished anything. By listing a few specific objectives, you can work on specific issues and get the desired outcome from the meeting.

5. Push for Decisions

Group discussions can foster ideas but can also lead to a lot of disagreement. To ensure that you get to an endpoint of a conversation, follow a strategic approach. You can use the DACI framework to drive decisions. Having a Decision’s driver (D), Approver (A), Contributors (C) , and people who will be informed of the decision (I) ensures that the discussion leads to an end decision without much argument.

6. Give Time for Reflection

It’s important to reflect at the end of every meeting, both as an individual and as a team. Ask yourselves questions like whether you achieved the goals for the meeting, whether you communicated effectively with each other, and whether such meetings would be helpful in the future. This can help you improve your team’s performance and make sure that everyone is on the same page.

7. Gather Anonymous Feedback

At the end of every meeting, give a few minutes for employees to fill out feedback forms. This way, you can get honest opinions about what they thought of the meeting, whether they enjoyed it, what could be improved, and if it was relevant to them. Anonymous feedback is often more helpful in getting accurate responses. Hence, if you plan on holding more meetings in the future, this feedback will be very useful in making sure they’re successful.

Plan a Successful Offsite Meeting

An offsite meeting can be a great way to boost employee morale and productivity. It can be helpful in strengthening team bonding, stimulating new ideas, and encouraging the culture of the company. However, since it has a lot of logistics involved, it should be planned strategically. 

ITILITE is a SAAS-based corporate travel management software that offers personalized bookings, itinerary modifications, and affordable booking packages to help you plan for your next offsite meeting with ease. With ITILITE, you can also take advantage of 24/7 travel support and real-time alerts to keep employees safe while they’re on the road. 

To check out these features, book a demo now.