Ah, corporate offsites: They can simultaneously strike fear into the hearts of retreat planners and either excitement (Hawaii, anyone?) or boredom (another Lego competition in the local park?) in the hearts of employees. Offsites can be incredibly valuable for team-building, but getting the event to go off without a hitch — while keeping everyone happy — often comes with some challenges.
Think of it like planning a family vacation — complete with accommodations and scheduled activities — except nobody on the trip is actually family, they might not know each other all that well, they probably have very different ideas of fun, and they’re probably dealing with their own individual time and financial constraints.
Planning a team offsite means balancing the often-opposing employee viewpoints about where you should go and what you should do with the practicalities of choosing team-building activities and setting up transportation and boarding for everyone within a budget. If all goes well, everyone will learn some valuable lessons and become good friends. If all does not go well, you could go down in history as the guy (or gal) who forgot to book hotel rooms for half the guests, cheaped out on covering meal costs, or worse.
If you’re unfamiliar with the whole process — or you’ve planned offsites before that didn’t go as you’d hoped — it’s probably a good idea to go back to basics and follow a set of tried-and-true guidelines. That’s why we’ve put together this guide for how to plan a team offsite for your convenience, stress relief, and perhaps even enjoyment.
Or… you could have Firefly Team Events do the team-building activity planning portion for you! Contact us today to start creating your dream team-building excursion.
How To Plan An Amazing Team Offsite (And Live To Tell The Tale)
Technically speaking, a team offsite is any gathering of employees away from their normal workplace. It could be an all-expenses-paid trip to Fiji, or dinner at Chili’s on the company credit card.
Before you even begin to hammer out the details, such as looking for catering or other partners, make sure you have a solid understanding of the scope of the event, the budget, and the goals you’d like to accomplish. For best results, you should decide on these details in the right order. There’s no sense in booking a company retreat to Aspen only to decide later that boat-building and other beach-themed activities would accomplish your goals more effectively.
Here’s the best path to take to get the job done right:
1. Create your deliverables.
Ask yourself: What do you want to accomplish by having this event?
Going into a team-building event without a specific goal in mind is a wasted opportunity. You could plan an office party if you just want to get everyone together and see what happens. More likely than not, you do have a purpose you’d like to accomplish, even if one doesn’t come to mind immediately.
Some of the most common goals we hear at FIrefly are:
- To bring a new team closer together after a series of fresh hires or a significant merger
- To help facilitate remote colleagues getting to know one another better
- To improve team trust and communication
- To simply have fun and boost morale
If you’ve pondered each of the above and nothing seems to fit perfectly, you might want to try sending a poll to your employees and get them to chime in. You might be surprised at some of the insightful things employees mention when asked.
Another trick to find your “purpose” is to state an objective and then ask yourself why you want to accomplish it. For example, let’s say you want to help remote colleagues get to know each other better. Why? Perhaps because you believe it will strengthen your team. Well, why would it strengthen your team? And so on. Keep drilling down until you’ve reached a solid answer, and build your ultimate goals from there.
Plus, if your company has done offsites before, you can use those experiences to guide your present decisions. What worked? What didn’t work? Which interactions and emotions would you like to recreate, and which should be avoided like a dodgy gas station burrito?
2. Budget for each of these deliverables.
How much do you think it will cost to accomplish each goal you identified? How much are you willing to pay to see these goals accomplished, if every dollar meant the difference between success or failure?
And finally, what total dollar amount is most likely to accomplish most of your goals without keeping you awake at night?
You’ll need to devise an overall budget so you have a total to work within. From there, break it up by individual priorities and deliverables. Don’t forget to include costs for transportation, lodging, food, travel insurance, activities, and a safety net for unforeseen expenses.
3. Determine the location and scope of the event.
Ideally, if you have firm deliverables in mind and a clear budget for each of them, settling on a location, group size, and trip duration should come relatively naturally. However, if your wildest dreams say “Vegas” but your company budget says “McDonald’s down the street,” now is the time to arrive at a compromise you can live with.
4. Source your partners.
Pulling off a large company trip will require the help of one or a handful of partner companies. Catering and venues, for example, are details you’ll need to line up before anyone steps foot in a car or on a plane.
While it might be tempting to source partners purely on budget or location considerations, try to keep your ultimate vision and goals as top priorities. It’s always best to find people who understand your business, know what you want to accomplish, and are confident that they can get you there.
A large chunk of your planning time will probably get soaked up by decisions regarding which team-building activities to set up, where to do them, how to get supplies, and all the other considerations associated with your chosen activities. Not to mention, you’ll need to plan time to set up and take down all the equipment for the event. Unless, of course, you choose to partner with an experienced, helpful, and friendly team-building event company…
Optional Step 5: Hire someone else to do a lot of the hard work for you.
No one knows better than we do how much time, effort, and planning goes into pulling off a successful team offsite. Firefly Team Events specializes in creating engaging and productive team-building activities for company gatherings that work toward your individual goals. That way, you can check one huge, monumental task off your list and focus on the other details.
We operate all across the United States with regional staff who are dedicated to helping you pull off your perfect company getaway. We’ll coordinate with your venue for setup and breakdown of activities, and we can accommodate anywhere from a handful of participants to a thousand guests with no impact on the quality of services.
To give you a brief idea of what kinds of activities you can choose from, here’s a sample of some of our most popular events:
- Team Graffiti
- Wreck ‘Em Rally
- Ramp It Up Skateboard Build
- Iron Team Olympics
- Techno Rally Scavenger Hunt
- Care Package Creation (customized to the local charity of your choice)
Slide right into our DMs and we’ll get started!