On-site or offsite? What’s right for your business and when
The concept of an on-site hardly existed in a pre-pandemic world. Why would it have, when every day took place on-site for practically all companies? Offsites represented an exciting, yearly event that would see team members get together at a country lodge or a city hotel for a deep dive into strategy sessions and teambuilding exercises. The recipe was simple and straightforward. People met in the office daily and were treated to a fun and memorable offsite once a year.
In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, things are pretty different. The traditional workspace has been thrown into flux, with 81% of business leaders believing that hybrid work will be the main working model by 2024. As teams grow increasingly distributed and work becomes more flexible, companies face a new question – how do we bring people together for real-life, face-to-face interaction?
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to this question, but its core lies with the concept of intentionality.
Purpose-led experiences through moments that matter
When it comes to intentionality, what you’re really talking about is purpose. In our new world of work, the idea of “purpose” is key. Bringing people together in real life, whether that’s for an offsite meeting or coworking in an office environment, needs to be driven by purpose. Think about it – how many times have you heard the phrase “I just came from a meeting that could have been an email”? Or “We totally could have done that on Zoom…”
Building purpose-led experiences for your employees is the bottom line when developing a strategy for face-to-face interaction. This goes back to how you define your company culture as a purpose-led organization that holds employees accountable to a certain set of values and behaviors. By basing your strategy for in-person meetings around purpose, you set the stage for the kinds of meetings that drive engagement, talent development, productivity, and creativity.
So, before setting up any kind of real-life meeting, make sure the following questions are clear:
- What result are we hoping to achieve with this meeting?
- What format does it need to take? Is it brainstorming, a 1:1, team-building, etc.?
- Would it be more beneficial to hold this meeting in the office or in a more informal environment?
- What value will we attain by hosting this meeting in person versus through video conferencing tools?
What’s the difference between an on-site and an off-site?
As the names suggest, they’re types of team meetings that differ based on location and activity.
On-site event: an event that brings colleagues together to your office or designated work environment. Activities would normally include teamwork, coworking, strategic and alignment meetings, 1:1s, some workshops, and likely a social event or two.
Offsite event: an event that brings colleagues together outside of the office space with the aim of creating a shared, memorable experience among employees. These events can take place somewhere in nature, in a different city, or even at a hotel in your own city just away from your regular working premises. Typically offsite events would feature team-building activities, creative sessions, social events, and more.
So, how do you know what type of real-life event to organize?
Should I opt for an on-site?
If you’re thinking about organizing an on-site meeting for your teammates or colleagues, it’s important to understand what this is beneficial for. As with any meeting in real life, it’s worth remembering that the magic of meeting in person has to do with collaboration and teamwork.
On-site days are not about getting the team in to check items off their to-do lists or work on asynchronous tasks in the same place. These days are all about working together, sharing ideas, and allowing those sparks of energy and creativity to fly.
When organizing the perfect on-site day, here are a few ideas on what you could do:
- Fill the day with productive, purpose-driven meetings – get people in the same meeting space! Set a clear agenda for the day and fill it with the kinds of meetings between team members that will add value to the work at hand. Make sure that they have clear goals and objectives for each meeting.
- Sprinkle in some out-of-the-box, problem-solving activities – depending on how distributed your team is, you might not get the opportunity often to get their creative juices flowing. Having team members work on something out of their day-to-day when together in person can really kick their creative thinking into high gear!
- Don’t forget the social element – Organise a lunch or an after-work activity for teams meeting on-site. Social initiatives like sharing a meal, going to an escape room, or heading out for after-work drinks are really great ways for teams to bond outside of a traditional working environment. That’s the kind of thing that drives engagement and a sense of belonging!
Should I opt for an offsite?
Sometimes, you’re looking to go bigger than an on-site event. That’s when offsites come in particularly handy! You want to bring the team together for a couple of days, get them to create memories together, get out of their usual work routines, and have a great time. Meeting offsite does exactly that!
Here are a few important things to consider before planning your next offsite event:
- What is the goal of the offsite? Is it team bonding? Alignment on goals and strategies? When you understand what your offsite is about, everything else will fall into place
- Where will you host it? Based on the reason behind your offsite, you’ll need to find the perfect locale for it. For example, if you’re planning on running 2-days worth of training sessions, you’ll probably need a space with conference rooms, catering, and designated work areas. If you’re more interested in team-building, then a venue with an outdoor space or in close proximity to an area for activities will be more appropriate.
- How long will it last? Is it a day offsite or an overnight? Or perhaps a 2-night affair? When planning your agenda, remember not to jampack your offsite to the point that people have no breathing room. Remember, this is meant to be an enjoyable perk so make sure your event agenda reflects that.
Further reading on offsites: