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6 steps to plan a successful company offsite your team will love

April 4, 2024

Lottie Taylor


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While we all love the freedom of remote work, there are things we don’t get to do on a regular basis: impromptu lunch dates, coffee chats, and company-wide team-building. That’s why offsites are so important, and why we commit to gathering everyone together every year for a full company offsite; to meet each other, bounce ideas off each other, unwind together, and create memories together.  

And it’s no mean feat to get everyone in one place and keep things running smoothly over those action-packed days, but somehow, Amplemarket’s epic Operations Team manage to pull it off every year!

We caught up with People Development Partner Maria Tarré Ribeiro, Finance Operations Specialist Joana Bastos, and Senior People Operations Specialist Liliana Fonte to see the offsite planning process through their eyes. In this blog, we’ll explore more of their tips for organizing a successful company offsite and motivating remote teams.

Why are company offsites important? 

No matter how cohesive, efficient, and friendly your remote team is, it’s hard to replicate the feeling of being in the same place together when working online. Over the past couple of years, we as a team realized just how powerful offsite can be for aligning the team and boosting our collective spirit in pursuit of our goals.

From presentations to brainstorming workshops; making the most of our time to collaborate face-to-face.

Here's why we recommend teams consider arranging offsites:

  • Team bonding: Offsites provide an opportunity for team members to bond outside of the virtual workspace, nurturing stronger relationships between teams and general camaraderie.
  • Alignment of goals: Bringing the team together gives you the chance to align on goals, vision, and strategy, ensuring everyone is on the same page and working towards common objectives going forward.
  • Boosting morale: Offsites offer a break from routine work and give the team something to look forward too! Team members can recharge their energy for upcoming projects whilst enjoying a reward for hard work and dedication.
  • Enhanced communication: Face-to-face interactions during offsites facilitate a different kind of communication and open the door to new serendipitous collaborations or discoveries!
  • Creativity and innovation: Stepping away from the daily grind can spark creativity and innovation, leading to fresh ideas and solutions for challenges faced by the team.

When should you hold an offsite?

To some extent, this depends on the team. For Amplemarket’s Ops Team, they timed the offsite to tie in with the company’s broader goal-setting.

“This year we closed the financial year at the end of January,” explains Maria. “And the founders wanted people together to discuss goals and set out the vision for 2024. This was something the company did last year and it worked really well in motivating people for the year to come.”

But in order to kick off 2024 with a cracking offsite, the People Team had to get to work well in advance…

6 steps to plan an offsite from scratch

1. Decision-making and location selection

"We start looking for a place months in advance, considering factors like minimizing flight costs and ensuring accessibility for all team members,” says Joana. “I think it was October when we started thinking about getting everyone together in February, but next time we’d definitely start sooner - it was a bit of a rush!”

Takeaway: Give yourselves plenty of time to plan ahead!

Start the planning process well in advance, ideally several months before the desired offsite date. Remember to consider accessibility for all team members and potential visa requirements whilst aiming to minimize travel costs and logistical challenges. 

Having settled on Madeira as Amplemarket’s destination, the Ops Team then had to find accommodation for the team. “Obviously we needed access to conference rooms and workspaces,” Joana tells us, “and if possible a nice restaurant where we can bring everyone together and host a party. Basically, having everything in one place makes logistics much simpler!”

Takeaway: Opting for one all-inclusive venue makes things much easier to organize.

Choose a location that offers accommodation with suitable amenities, conference facilities, and activities or spaces for team bonding.

We were spoiled to be surrounded by Madeira's incredible natural beauty!

2. Logistics and bookings

"Handling a lot of flight bookings isn’t easy, which is why we used TravelPerk to centralize the process between employees and the Ops Team,” Liliana tells us. “It’s great because employees have the autonomy to choose their flights but we still have visibility over everything and can set rules on things like cancellations, luggage allowance etc. Of course, exceptions sometimes have to be made, and we have to check people have booked around the right dates, but it’s simpler than doing everything manually!”

Takeaway: Create a streamlined plan for booking travel arrangements and communicate clearly with your team.

Establish clear rules for booking flights, considering factors like flexibility, luggage, and cancellations. Utilize centralized booking platforms to streamline the process and gather necessary information. Don’t be afraid to set booking deadlines and guidelines to team members to avoid last-minute complications.

Remember to consider extra arrangements such as airport transfers or travel between activities!

3. Crafting the agenda

"We’re lucky that we could use some of what we saw worked in previous years to plan our offsite agenda,” says Maria. “Overall we look for a balance between team-building, specific team sessions, founder requests, plus relaxation time and slots to work if required. We now have some traditions, too, like a product testing session and a boat party!”

Liliana elaborates, “we divided our offsite objectives into four main areas: for people to shine, for people to share, for people to create and for people to bond.”

Takeaways: Create your agenda around your goals.

When planning your agenda, remember to keep in mind the reasons you’ve decided to host your offsite, whether it’s team-building, company communication, boosting morale, or a combination of these things.

“We invited ideas from outside the Ops Team this year too, like a customer voice session, a hackathon, and a levada hike to explore the local area,” Liliana tells us. “Obviously the company can’t stop working but we try to make sure work slots are for “fire-fighting” tasks only.”

Takeaway: Make your offsite exciting!

Prioritize fresh and innovative activities that allow you to make the most of your limited time together.

Taking some time to enjoy Madeira's stunning landscapes.

4. Accommodating remote team members

Unfortunately, it’s always possible that a few team members won’t be able to join your offsite. As Maria explains, it’s still possible to make them feel involved: “We created a special Slack channel for people who couldn’t make it so we could send them virtual event invites and still connect with them. It’s not a perfect solution, but it means they’re still involved with some of the activities.”

Takeaway: Remember to consider how you will communicate and include non-attendees.

While remote participation via Slack or video calling does facilitate involvement, acknowledge that remote team members may miss out on certain activities requiring physical presence, so make sure they still feel valued!

5. Handling unforeseen issues

"Generally, we managed to adjust and find solutions in real-time for problems like accommodation issues and late-night arrivals,” says Maria. “We also created a WhatsApp chat for everyone to stay up to date with timings and locations, which worked really well.”

Takeaway: Make sure offsite organizers are ready to handle last-minute logistical challenges.

Create open communication channels and be proactive in sharing updates to keep things running efficiently.

6. Feedback and follow-up

"We collect feedback after each offsite to improve future events,” Maria tells us. “From what we saw this year, we seem to have cracked the formula for creating a well-balanced agenda, which is great!"

Takeaway: Gather comprehensive feedback ASAP after your offsite.

This helps you identify areas for potential improvement and look for ways to make your next event even better.

The (now) traditional Amplemarket boat party!

“We also have a budget for team bonding and encourage teams to organize mini-offsites throughout the year to stay motivated,” Maria explains. Joana adds, “We also have biweekly “Snack & Learn” meetings where everyone can come together and talk about different topics, from product to emotional intelligence, to other funny stuff. Because some days we also need fun stuff on our agenda!”

Takeaway: Think about how you can sustain your team morale beyond your offsite.

Consider facilitating smaller offsite experiences, establishing regular team rituals, or organizing more casual company-wide meetings to sustain team camaraderie.

Wrapping things up with our team dinner and party.

Lessons learned from our 2024 offsite

Our offsite in Madeira brought excellent feedback from the team as a whole! Nevertheless, the People Team found some potential areas for improvement next time:

  • Start planning sooner: Allow more time for choosing a location and booking flights to make things less stressful.
  • Provide more food options: Recognize and accommodate more diverse dietary preferences and restrictions, such as vegan, gluten-free, or dairy-free options.
  • Make it longer: Consider extending the offsite by at least one more day (to four days in total) to allow for a more relaxed agenda and reduce exhaustion.
  • Fine-tune the agenda: look for more activities that allow the team to experience the local area,
  • Allow for more flexibility in flight bookings: include changeable flights to reduce the cost of last-minute changes.
Huge thank you to our fabulous Ops Team - the people who made everything happen!

Setting the tone for the year to come

In terms of meeting our overall objectives - to align on 2024 goals, create stronger bonds as a team, and inspire people to give their best - this get-together was a huge success. Our offsite tradition is helping us cement our pro sports team mentality and build an even stronger sense of mission focus across the company. 

Huge thanks to Maria, Joana, Liliana, and the rest of the Operations Team for making it all possible and allowing us to make memories together! We hope their tips and insights will help you create epic offsite experiences of your own.

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