The rise in working from home has had an undeniable impact on businesses around the world. Many employees who have moved from office to home love it (and not because of the extra ten-minute lie-in!) A recent survey found that remote workers complete tasks quicker at home because they have less distraction. Whilst employee efficiency is key to the success of a business, it’s not the be-all and end-all. We’re all human and we all need connection, and I’m speaking beyond good Wi-Fi…
People have found that the most common disadvantage of working from home is difficulty in working with other people, 48% of homeworkers found they had trouble communicating through a screen. Humans are social beings that thrive when working together. There’s only so far friendship with a colleague can go when it’s rooted in emojis and a mutual distaste for Zoom. If a team of remote workers find it difficult to communicate and connect, this could be damaging in the long term.
Though in passing they might sound trivial, a laugh over lunch, post-work drinks, or Monday night football are the times a team forms their culture and team identity. Remote teams don’t have access to these out-of-office moments. One way to make up for this and ensure your team feels connected (offline!) is to organise an annual, or quarterly, company offsite.
That’s where our area of expertise comes in. As an organisation Big Blue Adventures specialises in tailor made group travel. Our six years of experience organising company offsites has certainly taught us a few things… so we’re here to share them! Here are our top tips on how to plan a company offsite for your remote team.
1) Understand the purpose of your trip
Before you start daydreaming about having a beer on the beach, it’s important to know the intention behind your company offsite. Why are you going? What do you want your team to get out of it? If the answer is to have a laugh with your team, then great! Adventure activities are a great option if you’re also looking to give people a space to get to know one another in a different light.
When thinking about what you want from the retreat, it’s important to consider what activities are appropriate for your team. If surfing, sea kayaking, canyoning, or coasteering is a bit too far out of your team’s comfort zone, you could alternatively plan something more relaxed, like a city tour or a boat trip for the day. Adventure activities are our favourite at Big Blue. That’s because we believe in pushing ourselves, and each other, outside of our comfort zones. After all, that’s where the most growth happens both as an individual, and as a team!
The likelihood is you’ll want a balance between relaxed fun and purposeful team experiences. Who could say no to a team offsite in Lisbon that starts with a morning of coasteering and ends with a productive team conference and sunset drinks on the beach?!
2) Put plans into action as early as possible
As a team of ten or two hundred, it’s important to allow plenty of time to plan. Getting things organised early is a crucial first step in booking the best offsite for your remote team.
Whether you’re planning a multi-night trip for team building in Swansea, or a getaway in Lisbon for your company, you should start planning at least 6 months prior. Not only does this ensure the majority of the remote team can make it, but it will also give you the best options for your trip.
At Big Blue Adventures, we will always do what we can to make a company offsite happen for a remote team, even at short notice. However, popular locations are sometimes booked a year in advance… So if you’re looking to join us in subtropical Madeira for some world-class canyoning, it’s best to give some notice!
Hiking in the mountains of Madeira – image source
3) Budget before booking!
Avoid becoming overwhelmed by hundreds of options by using a budget to narrow them down. The budget will give you an idea of what your remote team can and can’t do for their company offsite. As a first step, get a rough idea of the budget from your finance department or CEO.
Having a rough budget per person, or a total overall cost, makes planning a lot easier as you know what you’re working with. From our end as group travel organisers, we find knowing a budget extremely helpful. A budget means we can offer you more precise advice on location, accommodation, and activities for your offsite.
4) Outdoor activities work best for organic fun! (Not overly organised team building activities)
You know that horrible feeling you get when you’re asked to stand up in front of people and say a fun fact about yourself? That’s a bit like forced fun through team-building activities. Whilst you may begrudgingly learn your colleague is competitive through partaking in a raft-building competition, that’s probably about it. There are much better options for activities. Outdoor adventure activities, close to nature, are a brilliant way to allow your team the opportunity to genuinely get to know each other.
Everyone’s on an even playing field when in nature. There’s no competitive pitting against each other, because let’s be honest, nobody can jump off a cliff into the open blue ocean without a slight tremor in their knees… Challenges like this bring out new sides of people!
Another key way to ensure team bonding on an offsite is organic and not too organised, is to ensure there’s plenty of free time for people to hang out on their own terms. Planning for there to be relaxed afternoons and evenings gives people time to reflect on their day and share stories. Way better than people sloping off to their rooms, exhausted after a jam-packed day!
5) Don’t let the offsite become stressful – get some external help!
Rather than letting an exciting trip become a burden on someone’s shoulders, let an experienced company take the reins. Being landed with the task of organising the company retreat sucks all the fun out of it for one individual, and that’s not what connecting a remote team is about! Everyone should be having a wonderful time, feeling relaxed, having a giggle, and soaking up the sea air.
Not only does leaving the offsite planning to the internal team mean they may not enjoy the trip itself, but it’s a lot of work to do alongside your other tasks… and often the time it takes to organise can be overlooked. There are many details to think about, and without contacts and recommendations, a lot of research. Plus, of course, the added pressure of wanting everyone in your team to have a good time! It’s like trying to organise a holiday with a hundred of your friends via a Whatsapp group chat. Nearby impossible right?
A good way to ensure nobody feels responsible for everyone else’s fun is to book through an external company. Doing this will ensure that your team can kick back and enjoy the good vibes on the day. In addition to a lot of pre-planning and communication through Slack, at Big Blue our team is there in-person to host the trip on the day. This is just to ensure everyone on the company offsite can relax about plans, and focus on enjoying time outside of the office with their team!
With these five tips you’re well equipped to plan and execute a corporate retreat that will undoubtedly tighten your remote team.
Whilst time and budget are important practicalities when it comes to planning your company offsite, the most important thing is that the trip itself is stress-free and relaxed for everyone involved. It’s crucial that people are given the space to be their out of office selves, and switch off from ‘work mode’.
If you’re looking to plan a company offsite stress-free, Big Blue can help you out. We can work with you to create a tailor-made company retreat that aligns with what you want, is within your budget, and genuinely bonds your team.
Written by Mia Foster, Group Travel Host