Employee offsite events: they hold so much promise to unlock creative ideas and foster teamwork, and yet too often they become no different than any ordinary event held in the office. Granted, there is value in getting a team of employees out of the office for a change of scenery even if all you do is rent a conference room and serve coffee. But depending on the aims of your offsite, you can make them more inspiring and creative in many ways.
For instance, WooThemes.com specializes in developing premium WordPress themes for users and the majority of the company’s employees work remotely. To keep everyone working as a team, they host annual corporate meetings for purposes of brainstorming and face-to-face interaction; one year, WooThemes took everyone on a ski trip to Austria.
WooThemes used the opportunity to incorporate social media into the event. Employees were obligated to use their own products – blog themes – to connect with friends and followers on social media. They shared videos, images and other multimedia content via their “Woo on the Slopes” application. Not only did employees get to test the solutions they provide to others, they were also able to connect with customers.
The result was a fun, memorable employee meeting for the team, where they learned more about the end users of their products.
Now, you may not have the kind of budget to take your team on a ski trip to Austria. But you can also try some smaller tweaks to your approach, such as:
Choose an interesting venue. Instead of gathering everyone at a hotel ballroom, take your meeting to a more unusual location. Many museums, yacht clubs, cultural centers, and sports facilities offer conference space for groups of all sizes, and they usually include special activities such as behind-the-scenes tours, as The Field Museum in Chicago does for groups. An interesting setting is especially useful if you’re trying to inspire employees to take a fresh perspective about their jobs. Unusual settings might be most effective when, say, a marketing team is trying to brainstorm on ideas for a new product launch.
Arrange sports or other physical activities. Giving employees a chance to have a little fun with a sporting event or other physical activity is a great way to encourage employee bonding and literally give employees a break from work. In fact, a physical break can make employees more productive and creative by giving their minds a chance to play. The Institute for Integrative Nutrition practices what it preaches by hosting a staff yoga retreat to help employees de-stress and unwind.
Hold an educational session on a non-work topic. There are other ways to give employees a break from the rigors of a meeting. Employees don’t necessarily need to engage in a physical activity. Consider, for example, having a guest instructor teach a class on cooking, mixology, or painting. Educational sessions also stimulate creativity when you choose something that is outside the realm of employees’ day-to-day jobs because you’re showing employees how to think differently.
Take the team to an event. Giving your a team a chance to unwind at an event after the meeting gives everyone something to look forward to and also a chance to bond. For instance, take your employees out to dinner, a play, or a concert to reward them for their hard work. You can spice up networking events by injecting activities such as trivia contests and awards.
What’s Your Approach?
The employee offsite meeting shouldn’t be something your team dreads – it should be an experience they look forward to participating in with you and their fellow colleagues. How do you make offsite events memorable and still valuable? We’d like to hear what you think.
For a complimentary 30-minute consultation on how to build your brand and inspire an audience through events and communications, please contact Brian Duffy by calling 630.427.4235 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Image source: The Field Museum of Natural History