Why You Should Move Your Quarterly Meetings Offsite

While many employees trickled back to their offices after the pandemic, many more stayed at home. Experts predict that 25% of all professional jobs in North America will be done remotely by the end of this year, with the trend for home working continuing well into 2023.

As employers adjust to this new normal, they’re moving towards more flexible ways to work. With that comes an increase in offsite meetings. Labeled as “the new return to the office”, these in-person (but out of office) gatherings are seen as a way to unite disconnected digital teams and get everyone together again, even if only once a quarter.

Companies that previously invested in their office facilities are now channeling that budget into offsite experiences such as corporate retreats, adventure days, spa breaks, and other activities. Of course, you don’t have to wow your workers with high-end entertainment, getting together in the local bistro-pub can still be rewarding for your team - boosting their morale, sparking their creativity, and bringing them closer together.

The benefits of off-site meetings

Getting creative

Zoom fatigue is real, and it’s a creativity-killer. Staring at a screen for too long leaves employees feeling disengaged, mentally exhausted, and drained. When it comes time for the quarterly meet-up, the last thing they need is yet another virtual conference

A change of scenery, on the other hand, can do wonders for free-thinking and creativity, sparking fresh ideas as your brain adapts to its new surroundings. Moving your meeting from the web to the real world might just generate some game changing ideas.

Maximizing employee wellbeing

Just as a new environment promotes new ways of thinking, it also helps people feel happier and more positive. Why? Because new experiences break the monotony of the office routine. 

Getting out of your rut and away from your desk is like a reset for your mental health - especially if you’re meeting up somewhere green.

Boosting productivity

Boredom is toxic in the workplace, impacting the productivity and mood of your entire team. Workers who are laboring over a tiresome project are more likely to make mistakes, become demotivated, and perform poorly. 

Taking meetings out of the office can help dispel this boredom, breaking up the work calendar and giving your team the space they need to refocus and re-energize.

Connecting and collaborating

As much as we’ve relied on digital tools over the past two years, there’s no getting around the fact that humans need other humans. We’re sociable creatures and face to face connection isn’t just vital to our personal lives, it’s essential to our professional relationships too

Striking the balance between facilitating remote work while also giving your employees opportunities for in-person connection can be tricky. That’s where quarterly offsites come in. Getting together regularly in an informal environment gives team members the chance to chat, collaborate, brainstorm, and just have fun together - experiences that will sustain them even when they go back to their home office routine.

Combat employee loneliness & taking work too seriously

Work is generally taken seriously by most people. However, casual conversations and socialization can lead to more of an uplifting feeling around work and combat the inevitable loneliness that comes from a work-at-home structure. Offsite meetings give people the chance to get to know each other as more than a series of talking heads and help them feel less disconnected when they get back to their home office.

How to host an effective offsite meeting

1. Pick your location carefully

You may not have room in the budget to book out a luxury hotel for your quarterly, but location still matters. When planning your space, think about:

  • Accessibility - can all staff get to, and move around, the venue?
  • Distractions - in a busy setting people will fight to be heard, consider booking a private room or relocating somewhere quieter
  • Environment - a sterile conference room often makes people switch off instead of light up, try mixing it up with more unusual venues. And consider green spaces - being in nature boosts cognitive thinking and creativity
  • Amenities - do you need catering? Do you have the right equipment and connectivity if you need to stream or record the meeting? Do you have what you need if you’re planning games or other activities?

2. Keep it informal

Quarterly meetings obviously have clear objectives and targets. The team is there to assess their performance over the previous three months and that will naturally involve analyzing progress made on KPIs, outcomes, and areas of improvement, to name a few. 

But those set-in-stone objectives can still be integrated into a fairly loose agenda that leaves scope for unplanned yet productive creative moments. Think of your offsite as a conversation rather than a conference, focusing on the human element alongside the administrative box-ticking.

3. Plant for fun

You know what they say about all work and no play. After working remotely and only communicating through screens, your team really needs this time to hang out and let off steam.

Schedule regular breaks so staff have a chance to catch-up in their downtime, and consider wrapping things up with a group activity like a trivia quiz, scavenger hunt, or sports game.

4. Stay flexible

Some workers are still uncomfortable meeting up, and managers should be careful to accommodate these employees. Offering hybrid meet-ups can help - giving far-flung or anxious team members a way to tune into the event virtually. Of course, this format won’t work for every activity but presentations and more formal seminars can be easily recorded for those at home.

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