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How to plan the perfect company away day
By Rebecca Kelly, CEO and founder, VenueScanner
It’s hard to remember a time before the pandemic when working flexibly was the exception, rather than the rule. But now, according to the Chartered Institute of Management, over 80 percent of companies are adopting a hybrid model.
While the last two years have taught us that we don’t need to be sitting next to each other to get our work done, it has also taught us how important it is to be together to create, to collaborate and to celebrate. It’s no surprise then that at VenueScanner we are seeing a sharp rise in demand for locations and experiences that bring businesses together for team away days.
Taking your company on a trip away is, first and foremost, a bold move. By investing the money in making this away day a success, you’re telling your employees not only that you care about the company, but that you also care about their role within the team. So, what exactly makes for a great team away day and how should companies go about creating these all important in person experiences?
Location location location
It sounds obvious, but an away day should be away from the office! You need a location that takes your team to a completely different headspace, whilst being easy to get to. Ideally you are looking for somewhere outside of the city close to the sea or within nature. We always recommend (budget permitting) an overnight stay if possible. It gives people the time and space to relax, as well as to focus on the team building activities and work-related activities you have planned.
Plan an activity
Depending on the goal of your away day, we always recommend including a non-work-related activity. This could be paintballing, laser quest, or stand-up paddle boarding. Whatever it is, make it active and outdoors. It should be memorable and as far removed from the day job as possible!
Divide your day into three
Once you have chosen a location and an activity, it’s important to start planning the content of your away day. We always recommend dividing your day into three: Connect, Create and Celebrate.
Start your day with an ice breaker over breakfast that brings everyone, from the CEO to the new intern, to the same level. We always start our away days with the game two truths and a lie. It’s a simple one, but it is a low-pressure exercise that gets everyone to share something about themselves. We then go on to a peer-to-peer feedback exercise where we team up in pairs and provide feedback to each other.
Getting your team to open up and be vulnerable in this way is a really important way to start your day And as the business leader, it’s important that you enter wholeheartedly into it as you will set the tone for the rest of the day.
The main section of the day is all about creating. We kick this section of the away day off with a “Share the Love” exercise where different people at different levels and departments across the business do a presentation on a specific area of interest within the business. This could be on copywriting, competitor research or social media, for example. We then go on to a “Hackathon” where I divide the team into groups before setting a business problem which they have two hours to solve.
Hackathons and workshops like this enable every member of your team to make their voice heard and might even provide you with innovative solutions to genuine business problems. And by incorporating team building activities that encourage your employees to use their skills and work together, you’ll get the team thinking creatively, while promoting the benefits of teamwork.
Of course, the most important element of the day is to come together to celebrate. We have a VenueScanner awards ceremony where we nominate someone who has really lived out our company values and then we all vote for the winner. We also celebrate work anniversaries, birthdays and any other significant life events that have happened among the team!
We know from our own Future of Work report that while 56 percent of UK employees want a mix of home and office work, 94 percent still want to meet up with colleagues and 87% said meeting colleagues in person was important for their mental health. That’s why we are seeing more and more companies investing in team building retreats and away days. It is a tangible investment in the future of your company and when planned and executed correctly (and in the perfect location), it can be a real motivator for your team and is a great way to celebrate your team’s success.