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A Guide to Facilitating Effective Offsite Meetings

Looking for a fun alternative to your regular meeting? Learn how to facilitate your next offsite meeting using our best practices, tips, and meeting agendas.

The Hugo Team
The Hugo Team
The team transforming meeting productivity
A Guide to Facilitating Effective Offsite Meetings

As the world rushes back to the office, many people are realizing that going to the same location day after day isn’t exactly the most inspirational working system. While there are many options to fulfill remote work, some companies are still in favor of working in-person.

If your business wants an in-person work style but needs to facilitate better planning and execution of projects, offsite meetings may be the answer you’ve been looking for. 

An offsite meeting is where the company collects all its team members and drives them to a different, rented location. Unlike a typical office, these meeting spaces are usually very high-tech, with lots of natural light to create a positive working space.

Considering that 83% of professionals spend 30% of their week in a meeting, breaking up their environment is a great way to keep them fresh and energized. If you’re looking to bring some flair to your meetings and split up the weekly commute for your team, try stepping out of the office to test out a company offsite meeting. 

In this article, we’ll be answering the following questions:

  1. What are the benefits of running an offsite meeting?
  2. How long do offsite meetings last?
  3. How do you organize an offsite meeting?

Let’s get started.

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Benefits of having an offsite meeting

While some department managers see offsite meetings as more of a hassle than anything, there is actually a range of benefits — not just for your own projects, but also for your team’s morale. 

An offsite meeting is important because it provides the unique opportunity to be creative in a new environment. When you travel with your team for an offsite meeting, you can expect the following benefits:

  • Opportunities to jump start projects
  • Better conditions for brainstorming
  • Boost in productivity

Let’s break these down a little further.

Jump start new projects

Offsite meetings can create an exciting change of scenery for your workforce. This change provides a great opportunity for your group to jump start any new projects. If you’re just getting started with a new project, this can act as a wonderful way to get the ball rolling.

By dedicating a whole day for an offsite meeting, you’ll be able to focus your time and attention on generating ideas, creating a more solid foundation for your project to be built upon. 

Brainstorming and team building activities

Whether it be a larger planning session or a team brainstorming, offsite meetings provide an excellent forum for collaboration. 

With a larger meeting like this, you’ll have more of your department in the room, with each team member having an opportunity to discuss the project that you’re kickstarting. 

A great exercise that offsite meetings provide grounds for is dividing your team into smaller teams and giving each of them a brainstorming task to fulfill. Thus, your entire team will be generating new ideas that you can take forward into the project process. No matter who it is — your executive team, a random team member, or even entire leadership teams — individuals at every level can benefit from these meetings.

Even if it takes a few minutes, starting your offsite meetings with a set of team-building activities can help participants get comfortable to begin the creative process. This strategy allows you to practice thoughtful facilitation, and employees to generate better quality ideas.

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Boosts productivity

One of the most overlooked benefits of hosting offsite meetings is that they can boost productivity by increasing your team’s energy levels. 

Instead of repeating similar meeting structures in a confined meeting room, you’ll be able to completely change the environment that your team is used to.

Because company offsite meeting spaces are normally constructed to boost productivity, many of them are decorated with plants and have access to plenty of natural light. Working in a positive space like this can be a great way to help your team focus when participating in the offsite meeting.

Additionally, changing the environment will help your team feel more energetic as they’re introduced to a fun new setting. By setting aside the entire day, you’ll also allow time for your team members to gather data, compile the relevant data, and then create a strategy for the future.

No matter which benefits you’re seeking, offsite meetings provide the perfect launching pad for new projects and will help boost the productivity and collaboration of your teams. 

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How long do offsite meetings last?

Because your team will have to spend time traveling to the location of the offsite meeting, it’s a good idea to schedule them for at least half a day. We’d even recommend a longer period of time to take full advantage of the trip.

If your offsite meeting only lasts an hour, for example, it will seem a bit strange carting your whole team to a different location when a meeting room would have sufficed. That being said, if you are going to be scheduling a full day of meetings, be sure to add time throughout for breaks.

While full-day meetings can be effective, your team won’t be able to stay concentrated if you don’t provide enough time for shorter breaks and a longer lunch break.

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How do you organize an offsite meeting?

The most challenging aspect of a company offsite meeting includes the logistics of finding and transporting your team to another space. However, with enough foresight and a good set of planning steps, you’ll be able to make this process a breeze. 

There are three key steps that you should focus on when planning an offsite meeting:

  • Securing a meeting space, transportation, and food
  • Constructing a robust meeting agenda
  • Focusing on meaningful, open conversation

Let’s discuss what should be done within each of these stages.

Booking ahead

Unlike regular office meetings, where you’ll likely have more direct access to your company’s meeting rooms, you’ll have to book a meeting space far in advance. Because of this, it’s a good idea to plan offsite meetings ahead of time, which will also lead to more team members being free on the day of.

When searching for a location, be sure to find one that isn’t too far away from your company headquarters. For example, if you pick a site an hour away, two hours of your employees’ workday will be spent solely on the commute. Try to stay within a few miles radius to cut down on travel time.

You’ll also need to book both transportation and food alongside the location itself. While transportation is a fairly obvious one, food is often overlooked. For example, if the meeting space you’ve booked is away from the city center, there may not be many food options in the area.

Considering that hunger is one of the biggest killers of productivity, and is directly linked to blood sugars and energy levels, it’s always a good idea to make sure your team stays fed. Also, with provided food, you’ll make sure that participants stay on site so you can get back to work the moment your lunch break ends.

Just a small tip: be sure to provide both vegan and vegetarian options, as well as further dietary accommodations depending on what your team needs.

Constructing a meeting agenda

Every meeting, whether offsite, onsite, one-on-one, or department-wide, lives and dies by a meeting agenda. The success of your offsite meeting is largely determined by its organization and planning. Your agenda should include:

  • Goals for the day: At the top of every agenda, you should be able to establish a goal for the day. This is the main reason that you’re going offsite, and creating concrete objectives will help your team see the need for the offsite meeting.
  • Order of events: No matter what you’re doing that day, everything should be written down in order to stick to a plan. Not only does this help your team members learn key messages about what’s going to be taking place, but it also ensures the meeting’s success as you’ll be able to stay on track.
  • Rough time constraints: A rough time limit for each of the meeting events will ensure that your team stays on the right conversation paths, doesn’t fall into a cycle of time-wasting, and maximizes problem solving in a certain amount of time. According to Parkinson’s Law, an event or task will expand to fill the time that you give it. Because of this, it’s a good idea to keep everything to a reasonable time limit to keep things running smoothly.

With the organization of a meeting agenda, you’ll be able to have clear outcomes for the day. At any time throughout the day, everyone will be able to see the next steps that need to be taken. Take a look at this selection of meeting agendas by Hugo if you need some inspiration.

Facilitating conversation

The main focus of an offsite meeting is to generate ideas and create a fun event where everyone can participate. Throughout the course of your meeting, remember to give people space to communicate openly. Nothing is more of a meeting killer at an offsite location than getting lectured by one team member in leadership.

Be sure that you place a great deal of focus on facilitating open conversations within your offsite meeting strategy. The success of the event relies on participants communicating openly, so that the team can feel comfortable enough to add their own perspectives.

In addition, facilitating open communication can help encourage each person to feel valued on a more personal level. While conducting business is important, it’s vital to welcome each person’s opinions and protect the psychological safety of your employees. 

Make your next team offsite meeting a success

A team offsite meeting can be an exciting opportunity for your department to step outside the office and collaborate openly in a creative space. As long as you set clear objectives in an offsite meeting agenda, you’ll be able to host a valuable day of new insights, great ideas, and indirectly help strengthen interpersonal group dynamics. 

If you’re looking to boost your team’s productivity, offer a fun alternative to regular meetings, and gain much-needed valuable perspective on new projects, a company offsite meeting is one of the best ways that you can hit the ground running. 

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