February 23, 2017

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One challenge for a company split across three offices (with several remote workers) is finding time to get know each other in-person. Like many other organizations, we find that remote teams work much better when we’ve built good working relationships before projects start. At Viget, we do this every fall and spring at all-hands meetings and every summer and winter at local offsites.

When all three offices gather together, we also break into our smaller teams, giving groups a chance to meet in-person to discuss process, tools, best practices, and more. Team leaders take responsibility for making these day-long meetings a success, but it’s not uncommon for the entire team to pitch in on planning parts of the day. Having organized quite a few of these events over the years, we’ve learned that crafting an effective offsite is harder than it looks.

Below are some resources we recommend for planning out a great team offsite whether it’s a strategic company retreat or a small team get-together. And if you’re looking for a fun way to wrap up the day, Laura Sweltz wrote about one of our favorite team activities based on Cards Against Humanity:

Read About Putting a Positive Spin on Team Venting

Community Thoughts on Offsites...

  1. 1. How to Plan a Team Offsite That Actually Works “...it’s helpful to think of offsite meetings as kind of a microcosm, or a ‘play within a play,’ wherein the leader and the team use the stage to rehearse the new dynamics and norms that they want to perform back at the office or take on the road.”
  2. 2. Eight Tips on Running a Great Team Offsite “As the team leader, you have to own the agenda, otherwise you’ll have anarchy on your hands and no one is going to thank you for that. However, be sensitive to where the energy is going and if a strategic topic has emerged that you didn’t think of in advance, make time for it in the agenda.”
  3. 3. Off-Sites That Work “Many off-sites derail because the meeting designer lacked the discipline to restrict the scope and number of issues to be considered. At the conclusion of the off-site, the company ends up with a laundry list of a dozen or more next steps but not a coherent strategic course of action.”
  4. 4. 7 Ways to Make Sure Your Offsite Lessons Stick in the Office “While their data suggests organizational outcomes are the most difficult to achieve, one of their points is that interpersonal and cognitive outcomes matter too. Even an offsite which fails to achieve a change in strategic direction may still yield results when it comes to ‘softer outcomes’ such as ‘interpersonal relations and strategic understanding,’ they write.”

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