5 Lessons We Learned at Our Annual Team Offsite
Because SlideRabbit’s team is spread across the US, we prioritize a team offsite each year. Beyond being a lot of fun, these weeks are filled with learning, sharing and bonding as a team. Besides 2020, we’ve had an offsite every year and they have been crucial to our efficacy as a team through growth and change.
This year, we went to Scottsdale, Arizona and shared knowledge via workshops and presentations on all topics from client appreciation, to animation skills, to how to approach data design. Plus a Game Night!
Why are team offsite events important?
From the organization’s perspective, offsite events are a great way to shake up the day-to-day monotony in order to introduce or inspire new thinking. Events like these can stimulate creativity and innovation, or more out-of-the-box problem solving. Retreats also allow for specialized focus, providing a time for learning & development or goal setting.
For the employees, team offsite events offer opportunities for team building, which creates motivation and positive morale. These breaks in routine are refreshing and may also allow employees to meet and network with team members in different departments or locations. Happy employees become longstanding and effective team members.
How to have a successful team offsite
The success of team offsite events depends on careful planning, clear objectives, and alignment with the company’s goals and values.
Once you’ve committed the time and financial resources to an event like this, it’s important to make it as effective as possible! Over the years we’ve learned a lot about how to make team offsite retreats effective, fun and motivating.
Below check out our five most important take aways:
1. Create a custom event template
Creating a custom event template reinforces that this event is a break from everyday work. While it’s still important to use a standard visual approach to avoid distraction and create cohesiveness for the working sessions, an event-specific template creates the mental departure from the typical.
For our Summits, we usually change our photography and use of colors to reflect our location. This year, for Arizona, we included a lot of spectacular rock formations. We also selected a gradient from our palette that would work well with the images.
An event template doesn’t need to stray very far from the main corporate look. A change in the colors or photography, or even on just the title and section break slides, will infuse a bit of fun into the event presentations.
Provide a set of instructions on using the template and assets for your speakers to work with to create engaging, professional-looking decks.
2. Encourage interactive workshops
The primary goal of most team offsite events is learning and sharing across the team. Naturally then, it’s important to make sure that a schedule and plan is in place so create active learning.
For our retreats, we start planning early in the year by brainstorming what skills and professional development opportunities we want to focus on. Our list of topics often shifts during the year as other priorities arise, and that’s OK.
By identifying target topics early, everyone has time to build useful and creative sessions that not only teach new skills or processes, but also incorporate interactive working opportunities, so that we can all solidify the skills as we learn them.
This year we focused primarily on data, animation and interactivity in presentation design. Each session explored a different aspect of our work, from client case studies, to deep technical data skills.
Interactive working sessions ensure that all attendees have the in-person chance to build new skills, with the added bonus of keeping everyone engaged.
3. Get out and get active
After all that deep work, a little activity provides a much needed brain break. Moving our bodies helps to focus and quiet our brains; plus it’s fun!
This year, we took a pedal pub through Olde Town Scottsdale. In previous years we’ve done horse back rides, walking tours and boat rides. We let our retreat location inspire our choice of activity options and then vote on them to decide what we’ll do.
Professional relationships benefit from more casual interactions, reminding the team members to see each other as people, not just coworkers. Stronger interpersonal relationships benefit the company when challenges arrive in the course of delivering our presentation services.
Just make sure that the activities selected are approachable and attractive to everyone on the team. Provide attendees a way to speak up privately if something is out of their comfort zone.
4. Promote team bonding
New experiences are bonding, so sharing something exciting and new creates camaraderie and fun memories.
This year, we were lucky enough to meet, pet and even feed Spud! Spud is a capybara living that the Phoenix Herpetological Sanctuary.
He was beyond cute and a BIG fan of cucumbers. Besides being together and all of our learnings, he was the highlight of our trip.
Other bonding experiences we’ve explored include personality testing & seminars (always a treat and so useful to understand each other better), rafting, and ropes courses.
Positive experiences with co-workers create positive working relationships; good will goes a long way in day-to-day work relationships.
5. Gather input and reactions
A team offsite is only as successful as the attendees think it was, so be sure to capture what worked and what didn’t.
At SlideRabbit, we circulate an anonymous survey to find out what helped people learned, what felt distracting, what could have made this retreat both more useful and more enjoyable, etc.
New and better ideas come from everywhere; by providing an anonymous option for input, we ensure that every team mate feels comfortable providing opinions.
Use the input to create an even more impactful event next time! A happy, supported team is more effective and productive, creating a positive work environment.
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