Team offsites: effective or defective?

A simple Google search will show anyone that the opinion on team offsites is split. Some people love them and feel like they get a lot out of them, others feel as though it’s just too much work with very little reward. There are some things that an offsite can never – and should never try to – achieve. So what makes a good team offsite and where do so many go wrong?

Location, location, location

The location of a team offsite is largely determined by the budget, but it’s important to get out of the office and into a new environment. Offsites are a great way to shake things up for your team, but when you have the event in the office, many people find it hard to shake the mentality of coming in for a normal day’s work.

Heading off-site for your team event gives everyone a chance to be in new surroundings to get their problem solving juices flowing. Just like a 5 minute walk at lunchtime can clear your head, a change of location for an offsite can give everyone a new outlook on problems they’ve been trying to solve.

Accountability matters

Nothing is worse than heading back to the office after an offsite only to find that nothing has changed. Nothing you talked about or worked on is being implemented now and it all feels like it was for nothing.

To avoid that feeling of pointlessness, you need to have a great system of accountability. Before you head off to the event, ensure that your team does pre-thinking and understands the agenda so they can come prepared with ideas; this gets things going so there’s no wasted time. Before you leave to head back to the normal working week, be sure to set tangible goals and allocate owners of each task so that you can track your progress when you return. Checking in a week or two later to gauge the effectiveness or incorporating this into your regular 1:1’s with your team are also great idea.

Bring in a fresh perspective

Ever been to an offsite that just feels like an extended meeting? Nothing is talked about that wouldn’t be talked about on a normal day and when you boil it down, all the same people are together, just in a different space.

There will be some things from the ‘normal work day’ that will be brought up at an offsite but for the most part, try to set the agenda for things that you don’t usually have the time to address, the more strategic discussions that require more time and gives your team the time you’ve always wanted to give. Get a guest speaker for a portion of the offsite – it’s good to shake up the voices your team hears. Sometimes, hearing the same message from a different person might just be the thing that drives the message home.

Get to the heart of the problem

You would be hard-pressed to find an offsite that didn’t attempt some kind of team building activity. They can range from trivia nights and logic puzzles to adventurous activities like white water rafting or rock climbing. The truth is that no matter what the activity is, no team building will solve the problems that might be floating around in your team.

Activities can be great to get your team doing something other than shuffling their feet and looking at the clock but they need to have a real purpose. For example, teams that suffer from poor communication aren’t bad at talking to each other, they’re bad at trusting each other. How will your team building activity improve that trust? If you don’t know, the chances are that you need to sit down and think a bit more about what you’re trying to achieve by these fun activities. Perhaps what your team needs is not an adventure-filled day but some dedicated time to have some difficult conversations and strengthen relationships.

Team offsites are a pit stop on the long road

Offsites are not a holiday or a junket, nor are they an extension of your normal meetings. Just like you need to pull over into a rest area on a road trip, it’s important to have offsites that give your team a chance to refresh, refuel and reconnect.

If you’re ready to organise effective offsites that create lasting change, People Make the Difference can help. To find out more, visit or call us on 0412 333 415. Our online leadership training videos start from $99 for a year’s access, with new video training added each quarter. Great value if you’re committed to growing your leadership potential.