One of the hardest parts of planning your company offsite is, well, planning it! Finding the right dates and times to please everyone and encourage participation is hard. Setting yourself up for success from the beginning with an offsite agenda gives your planning team and your attendees a great idea of what to expect. This doesn’t always make it an easy task, and we’re here to help!
Build the Perfect Offsite Agenda for Your Next Company Retreat
Here are our top 5 tips and tricks for a nearly flawless retreat agenda, and a few examples to get you started:
One of the easiest things we recommend when planning your company offsite is to set your retreat priorities and goals. While taking your company to a retreat is a great opportunity for team-building and for remote teams to become better acquainted with one another, it’s also a chance for execs and leaders to show appreciation for their teams, by including optional activities and special events.
This also avoids having time where people are standing around with nothing to do, and allows time for teams to prepare for their offsite in advance. By setting priorities and goals for your retreat, you’re ensuring that as a leadership team you’re being productive, and as a company you’re building a strong company culture. Here’s what setting priorities for your corporate retreat could look like:
- We want to have meetings every morning from 9-12
- We are aiming to have two lunch & learn sessions
- We want to offer a team-building session on the first afternoon
- We’d like to offer our teams optional activities that they’re able to choose from
The above parameters allow you (or your planning team) to understand that the trip is primarily business-focused, but mixes in a bit of fun and leisure. Setting parameters that align to the purpose of your trip not only give you a direction for your planning, but make it easy for (almost) everything else to fall into place!
Set an Offsite Budget:
We can keep this short and sweet: set yourself up with a loose budget and a hard one. If you’re looking for a corporate retreat location near a beach for three nights but haven’t narrowed it down yet, look for locations in and around your loose budget. Once you’ve decided on a few and are looking at booking, don’t go over your hard budget (budgeting for a company offsite can be hard, so check out this blog post to help you do it).
Decide on an Ideal Length and Time:
Arguably one of the most difficult decisions for planning your company retreat, deciding on a length and time means making sure that your retreat works for everyone. Companies are full of people who have other responsibilities in life. It’s important to the success of your retreat that those with busy personal lives (eg: parents with families at home!) feel recognized and have a chance to attend. Through our years of planning corporate retreats, we’ve had trips that have been 2 days long, and trips that have been 6! We’ve found the sweet spot is 3 nights and 4 days, which gives your team lots of time to work together, and extra time to participate in fun activities. Here are some additional things you may want to consider when deciding on length and time:
- Avoid weekends, as Saturday’s and Sunday’s are personal time for employees!
- Based on your goals, make sure the length of the retreat reflects the mix of business and leisure!
- Don’t forget travel dates! Travel can be very exhausting for many people, so ensure that you account for travel time or jet lag in your offsite length. If you’re a remote team from Toronto that is flying everyone into Dubai, know that people will be exhausted!
Hot Tip: This may seem like a given but can often be overlooked: choose four to five options, and send out a preliminary poll for availability and preferred dates! This gives folks a chance to share some input, and have some say over what works best for them
Be Specific with your Offsite Location:
Over our many years of planning retreats, we’ve learned that it’s a lot easier when you have an idea of where you want to go! The world is a very large place, and saying that you want to go “somewhere warm” makes it really hard to narrow down. Allow yourself some time to sit down and look at not only logistics but the space and travel time. If you want a mountainous location, look at the proximity to airports. If you desire somewhere remote, consider ease of transportation.
Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean you have to go into the planning process knowing exactly what you want! Planning corporate retreats (and even just building an offsite agenda!) takes a lot of thought and time!
Hot Tip: Choose what makes the most sense for your team, and not what feels like the most glamorous experience. It’s hard not to get excited by something in the planning stage: like beautiful beaches and kangaroos, however if you’re planning an offsite for your team of 200 employees, it’s unlikely that all 200 of them will be able to go to Australia! Remain practical and trust us when we say this: you’ll have fun regardless!
Get started on the Offsite Agenda
The best advice we can give here, is to start building your retreat agenda! Once you’ve decided on length, goals (business vs. leisure), and location, you can start implementing this into an agenda. Here are our top considerations when building out your offsite agenda:
- Keep the first day relaxed: People have traveled from east to west to attend your company offsite - don’t go nuts on the planning! We recommend a welcome reception and dinner followed by leisure time or an optional activity to keep things light.
- Spread meetings out: It’s hard not to get excited when the team is all together for the first time in a while, however to keep everyone sane and productive, spread meetings out to give teams lots of breathing room, and time to regroup.
- Include team-building activities: Though often seen as boring, team-building activities can be tons of fun, and are often a welcome addition to company offsites (check out our blog for fun team-building activities here). They don’t have to be expensive, or take up a large chunk of the day!
- Optional activities: That being said, everyone loves a good optional activity! From ziplining to guided hikes to wine tastings, providing your team with options to choose from keeps everyone excited and energized.
- Leisure time: At a company offsite?! Absolutely! People get tired out, and providing your employees with time for themselves to do as they please will go a long way (trust us on this one!).
While we’ve created hundreds of travel itineraries, we still have to go back to the drawing board to make sure we’re hitting our mark every time! Here’s a great example of what our itineraries look like:
3-Night Offsite Itinerary Template Example
This client wanted the perfect mix of work and fun! By keeping all the work-related meetings and workshops to the morning, attendees are able to stay motivated throughout the day. Additionally, the location they chose is only a 3-hour flight from the majority of their employees, meaning less time for jet-lag and more time for activities!
4-Night Offsite Itinerary Template Example
Similar to the agenda below, this team wanted to head a little further away, meaning a little more time for the retreat! They incorporated volunteering as a team-building activity, and similar to above, kept work-related meetings and workshops to the mornings.
Incentive/Leisure Trip Itinerary Template Example
Don’t be fooled: just because we’re experts at planning offsites and corporate retreats for companies doesn’t mean we can’t toss in an incentive trip or two! Typically a trip to reward top brokers/sellers, incentive trips are usually less business and more fun! This client wanted to take their teams a little farther away. This means that they had to incorporate a little more time into their retreat as well as the first few days to let people adjust. They’ve also made almost all of their activities optional, meaning guests are able to participate at their own comfort.
We Can Help!
We plan corporate retreats for a living. That makes us very qualified to help! Feel free to reach out for more information regarding the planning process, or if we can get started on a proposal for you and your team!