As remote work becomes increasingly more prevalent, employers are finding new and innovative ways to connect as a team. Remote off-site comings together are indelible opportunities to exchange creative ideas, find inspiration for forthcoming and existing projects and build the kind of trust that only face-to-face interactions can.
As the founder and CEO of an interior design company, I’ve found that off-site team gatherings have proven to provide uniquely valuable time spent boosting creativity and innovative thinking that allows the firm to thrive. However, I’ve also learned that choosing a venue or location isn’t always so straightforward. Team leaders must select a temporary HQ that offers more than just great wifi. From villas with views to glamping in the wilderness, the options can be overwhelming, though a few things remain necessary for a successful team gathering. Below, I’ve outlined a few criteria to consider in order to select the perfect team-building “workcation.”
Space To Assemble
Regardless of where a team comes together, a primary necessity of a team workcation is a space where the team can all comfortably collaborate. In hotels, this space could be a meeting room or conference center, while private villas and homes can offer spacious living rooms or outdoor areas that enable everyone to occupy the same general space.
Hotels also often have multiple venues for a small team, including generous lobbies and flex spaces that serve food and beverages, as well as provide access to printers and heritage business amenities. In a single room, the team can communicate new concepts or have a group brainstorm. Likewise, the ability to sit outdoors in the fresh air could help stimulate thinking.
When looking for a location suitable for the exchange of ideas, be sure to consider the needs of the project at hand, and identify spaces ahead of time that can host or inspire meaningful team discussions or work sessions.
If your office is/was in a big city, or if your employees occupy a similar environment to one another, choose a location that is unlike your familiar surroundings. If heading to a cold-weather destination, make sure windows are copious and offer a view out onto the nature beyond. Alternatively, if northern climates are home, consider heading south for a change of natural surroundings.
Staring directly at your neighbors in a building just feet away isn’t the most inspiring environment for creative thinking. So, if most of your staff is city-dwellers, head somewhere you can collectively connect with nature. If your team is primarily rural, heading to the compelling and addictive energy of a big city can help enliven sleepy thinkers. Just be sure to account for the team’s quality of life when selecting an off-site destination.
Access To Outdoor Activities
Free from connectivity constraints, choose a place where you can head outdoors. Perhaps you can take a team hike, for example. Whether wandering together through woodlands or paddleboarding on a placid lagoon, offer activities that can be done while outdoors and away from the temptations of the screen.
Many resort towns are home to both large and boutique hotels that can offer their own unique itineraries or access to activities, which can take some pressure off of the organizer. Likewise, private rentals can offer a more reclusive place to connect with team members.
Sunshine And Warm Weather
When considering outdoor and nature activities, warm weather locations tend to offer the nearly year-round ability to gather comfortably. Winters can get dark and cold in certain parts of the country, and breaking unrelenting cold and clouds with warmth and sunshine could be a welcome change for many of your employees.
Sunshine can help break up long, cold seasons. Many hotels in warm-weather destinations are oriented around on-site activities, including lounge chair service and areas dedicated to relaxation. Oftentimes, these amenities can be ideal antidotes to a typical day in life and help alleviate stress brought on by being stuck indoors.
Another driver of inspiration is art and culture. Gathering your team for a collective trip to an art museum, a historically prolific neighborhood or a musical performance can be a great incentive for creative thinking.
If your team lives in places underpopulated with cultural attractions, choose a destination that offers a breadth of cultural activities to keep everyone engaged. Get a private group tour to learn in greater depth about the artwork on display or watch a major city’s symphony orchestra perform a moving rendition. Connecting with great works of art, regardless of their medium, can help inspire new thinking.
Of course, safety is an evolving priority. If the team is more comfortable staying separately, then perhaps a large hotel with different wings and hidden corners is preferable so that no one feels that their health is compromised. For teams with newer members or teams meeting for the first time, having a private space to retreat to after a day of communing is important. If that private space also happens to have a balcony that looks onto the rolling waves of the ocean or the crisp white decline of a ski slope, all the better.
However, if the team is excited about creating new concepts together, then staying at a generously sized home with a private bedroom and bathroom for every employee could create a space where creativity doesn’t end at 6 p.m. Sometimes, great ideas come when not thinking about whatever the topic might be, and a home where your team can relax as well as work together could be the perfect laboratory for innovative and collective ideation.
Regardless of the right choice for your team, the options are numerous. Before making the decision, do an honest assessment of your team. Ask team members what they would prefer, and be sure to consider everyone’s opinion in order to find a place that facilitates a productive, fun and memory-making experience together as a cohesive, modern team.
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