Tips to get the most out of your corporate away day
Now that they’ve got a few years of hybrid working under their belts, organisations are realising that there is something missing: connections. As most have embraced the popular two-days-a-week model, team members are spending set days in the office and many never actually cross paths with one another. Others have been recently hired and have never met the rest of their teams in real life. Managers are having to work a lot harder to build connections at work and to recreate these precious watercooler moments.
It’s no surprise that many of them don’t know where to start. This was the case for one of our fintech clients, who wanted to help staff get to know each other better so they could work together towards achieving organisational goals. The leadership team had their heart set on bringing the team together for a corporate away day, but wanted to ensure their efforts would generate impactful results. They approached Let’s Talk Talent to bring their event to life, and we’re happy to share how we did it.
For even more tips on how to run a kickass away day, read our article. Or find out when to run a face-to-face event versus opting for a virtual meeting here.
Getting to know each other in a remote-first organisation
While virtual working seems to be a popular preference amongst staff, it does present a few challenges. Our client was a fairly young fintech company, and had seen some very rapid growth over the past few years. The leadership team was recently reconfigured, new leaders had just joined the organisation and many employees had begun their journey with the organisation less than two years ago. While the usual growth pains were to be expected, the company’s choice to remain a remote-first workplace did mean one thing: people didn’t have many opportunities to bond with their colleagues.
Top tips to plan an effective team away day
Before getting the entire team together, we wanted to start by aligning the newly reconfigured leadership team. We settled on a two-day event, first focusing on getting leaders on board, then bringing the rest of the company into the fold. This project began with several meetings with the stakeholder team, including the company’s CEO and the VP of HR, all of whom were keen to plan an event truly tailored to their needs.
Tip 1: determine what you want to get out of the day
We established the key messages to hone in on, and chose an overarching theme for the day. The ‘Getting to know each other’ theme would be the lightning rod all activities would centre around. Our purpose for the day was to strengthen existing connections and to encourage building new ones.
Tip 2: pick your location carefully
There are many options available when it comes to location, and your final choice will hinge on your desired outcomes. Do you prefer an in-person session, or would a virtual meeting be best? Do some of your team members work internationally or have caring responsibilities, making it hard for them to be present? Should you stick to a conference room in the office or take everyone offsite?
In this particular case and considering the organisational context, a face-to-face one-day event was the way to go. This provided the team with plenty of opportunities to move about and network throughout the day.
Tip 3: find the right balance between corporate presentations and fun stuff
“ You don’t have to follow the usual formula of long corporate PowerPoint presentations followed by a team bonding activity,” advises Yvette Janse van Rensburg, Senior Consultant at LTT. “Go wild, break the mould, do what works best for you and your team and seek out opportunities to create moments that matter.”
Make sure you pick the right mix of exercises, strategy presentations and personality assessments based on your objectives. This time, the focus was solely on facilitating connections. Whilst there was a short introduction from the CEO around the strategic direction of the business, corporate information was mostly kept out of the agenda in favour of interactive exercises that would get people talking to one another.
One of the most successful exercises was the 16 personality assessment, used with senior leaders as well as with the rest of the talent pool. The objective was to facilitate understanding of the self, and of others, and to improve both communications and ways of working in a remote-first organisation.
Tip 4: set a sustainable pace
The right pace can turn your session from a boring corporate session into a motivation-generating event. Here, we built in moments for people to speak to colleagues from their own team and teams they may not interact with on a regular basis. We planned several coffee breaks and proactively engineered plenty of watercooler moments for people to get to know each other on a professional, and a personal level.
“Give people space to breathe and to process information,” says Jo Taylor, MD at LTT. “Don’t try and pack too much into your day, and add quiet zones so introverts can recharge.”
Tip 5: follow up on the day
You’ll need to keep the momentum going after your team away day, and the first step is to gather feedback in the moment. As we had an interactive session, we wanted to keep up with the theme and used a scannable QR code to allow participants to sum up the way they felt about their experience in one word. This data was fed into a live word cloud, a particularly fun and positive way to end the day.
We also provided the organisation with ways to dive deeper into self-awareness so they could keep improving their communication.
For another example of a great team away day organised by LTT, have a read of our case study.
The secret ingredient that’ll make your team away day a success
Involvement from the leadership team is a must. This event’s agenda featured a fireside chat with the two company owners, who got the opportunity to open up, share their stories and show vulnerability. They delved into their personal struggles and the challenges they faced as they were setting up the business.
“Vulnerability is an essential component of a psychologically safe environment,” reflects Yvette. “And it needs to be role modelled from the top down.”
Why you should throw away the old rulebook
There is no magic formula to follow when organising an away day. Each event should be designed and planned according to your objectives, your organisational context and your people. However, some components, such as the right location, pace and balance of social vs corporate activities need to be carefully considered. The main learning from this amazing client event? Don’t be afraid to step outside the box and do things differently. Or as we say at LTT, don’t do beige!
Are you thinking your team could do with a corporate team away day and would like to ensure the session is as impactful as it can be? Don’t hesitate to book a call with us. Alternatively, have a look at our team away day service page for plenty of free resources.