When planning an offsite experience every company is unique. Some groups may want lots of dedicated work and brainstorming sessions, while others may focus primarily on team bonding. But for most? The ultimate goal is one thing — creating the best experience possible for your team.
At Surf Office, we’re no stranger to planning work retreats, and over the years, we’ve learned a thing or two about what makes a good offsite work, what companies should consider during the planning stages, and of course, what they should avoid.
Keep reading for five mistakes you don’t want to make when organizing team activities for your next offsite experience.
1. Avoid planning too many activities
Planning too many activities can lead to an overwhelming program with colleagues running between activities and work sessions, feeling rushed and unable to enjoy their experience fully.
Avoid this by starting your planning process with clearly defined goals. Once you’ve determined what it is you hope to accomplish, decide on teambuilding activities based on these objectives, ideally choosing two for each day of your retreat.
You’ll also want to leave plenty of buffer time before and after each session. No one likes to rush so this added time allows everyone to decompress, grab a coffee, prepare for the next activity and connect with team members in between more active parts of your schedule.
2. Avoid combing a mix of activities
Now you might be thinking, wouldn’t packing a bunch of activities into one afternoon and letting people choose what they want to do be a good experience? For some teams, the choose your own adventure approach can be! But consider whether this aligns with your goals.
If the aim of your offsite is team building and forming stronger relationships between coworkers, a program that divides your team may be counterproductive to what you’re trying to achieve. Instead, consider opting for one activity that is accessible and appealing to the whole group, with some scheduled free time later on for them to do their own thing!
3. Make sure your activities are inclusive
Can everyone join in the activities you planned? Have you accommodated a range of different activity preferences within your program? Make sure your schedule is inclusive and accessible to all of your team members.
Try to prioritize easy-going activities that most people can participate in, like scavenger hunts, walking tours, and food tastings — and always give the option of free time for anyone that may wish to opt-out.
This is especially important if you’re planning more adrenaline-packed outings like ziplining or surfing that may not be everyone’s cup of tea. More introverted team members may also value this downtime to step away and decompress before rejoining the group later on.
4. Avoid scheduling long transfers to activities
Some activities require transportation to get there, and that’s okay as long as you account for enough time to get organized, get there, and get back within your schedule.
Ideally, you want to prioritize activities that don’t require any transfers or have shorter transit times, but if you’re planning to visit a destination that’s a bit further away, consider how you can make the most of your time in that location.
For instance, if you’re staying in Ericeira but planning a scavenger hunt in Lisbon, you might want to think about staying for dinner as well!
5. Be mindful of cut-off dates when planning
Once you’ve determined what it is you want to do, the biggest mistake you can make when planning an offsite experience is waiting until the last minute to book!
If you’re traveling during high season with a big group, booking activities the week before your retreat is almost a guarantee not to get your first choice.
Providers need time to book staff, order food and make other arrangements to accommodate their group. Giving them the time they need to prepare helps them help you to have the best possible experience.
And when you’re at your offsite? Always do your best to be on time. One activity running late can impact the entire schedule, so ensuring you’ve allotted the right amount of time to keep on track is fundamental to retreat success.
If you follow these tips and avoid these five key mistakes, you’ll be well on your way to planning an awesome retreat experience for your team.