Offsites are becoming increasingly more popular as more and more companies settle into their remote lifestyle. Holding a company offsite is a great way to get the team together and have an in person bonding experience. We held our first company wide offsite in Austin, Texas this year. Based on our experience, we’ve compiled a list of the most important steps that we followed to plan a successful offsite.
Step One: Think About The Why
As a remote company, we felt it was important to gather as a team and have an in person meeting. We have hired new staff since we have transitioned to a remote company, and therefore we have staff members that have never met in person. Our hope was that we would share meals, laughter, and reflect on our year together as a team.
Step Two: Select The Location
When selecting the location, we considered where the staff already lives. Our company was founded in NYC, but has since spread all across the country. Our CEO recently moved to Austin, Texas, and we have several other employees who live in Texas, so it was a perfect fit. Plus, the culture and vibe of Austin matches the culture of our company. We hope to travel to different cities where staff live for future offsites.
Step Three: Find the Date
We felt that the end of September would be the perfect time to host our offsite. The holidays are our busiest time of year, so our intention was to bring joy and excitement to the team before the rush. Additionally, the end of September wrapped up the 3rd quarter. It was a great time to look at our goals and plan for what we need to do to reach them before the end of the year.
Step Four: Decide on a Theme
The theme for our offsite was disco cowboy. We wanted a theme that was equally fun and honored the location. Our inspiration was to include old school (cowboy) with next gen (disco). We began with a Pinterest mood board of Austin and quickly became drawn to the imagery of Austin – old western country, neon signs, motels, and dance halls. Disco cowboy tied in the young vibe that our company brings and the eclectic heritage of Austin.
Step Five: Choose a Hotel
To find the perfect hotel, we researched the city of Austin. We first narrowed down the area of town that we wanted to stay in, and settled on East Austin because of its culturally diverse atmosphere, access to parks, and blend of communities. We thought this area most aligned with our company values. Based on a few local suggestions, we settled on ARRIVE Austin because it blended well with our vibe and would be a premium experience for our staff. We were drawn to this hotel for its restaurants, coffee shop, and rooftop patio.
Step Six: Plan Meals
When planning for meals, we wanted to make sure that we were able to eat around the table family style. Additionally, we took into consideration food allergies and restrictions of our staff when planning our meals. We used local recommendations and planned our meals at restaurants that are walkable to our hotel.
We also relied on our staff that lives in Austin for their restaurant suggestions. These suggestions became a large part of our itinerary, and we developed a list of recommendations from our staff to deliver to the team.
Step Seven: Organize Team Activities
Our goal was to plan team bonding activities that would connect the staff in a fun way. A few key factors that we considered were to make sure it was something accessible for all types of employees, that it would be fun to attend, and included opportunities for communication and working through problems in teams that aren’t normally together. We found a local business that supports the Austin community and planned our team bonding activities there.
Step Eight: Book Staff Flights
The most tedious part of the planning process was gathering all of the flights. This detail required diligent organization and communication with the staff. We gathered staff preferred airports and kept all of the information in a detailed spreadsheet.
Step Nine: Have Swag!
As a branded merchandise agency, we are making swag bags for companies every single day. We were thrilled for the opportunity to surprise our staff with a kit that was thoughtful, aligned with our theme, and useful for the activities during the offsite. We worked with our art department to create the WhitestoneFest Kit, which each employee will receive upon arrival to the hotel.
Our biggest takeaways for planning a successful offsite are to stay organized, decide on a budget at the beginning of planning, and to remain flexible. It’s a big task to take on, but worth it for the memories that will be made!
Want to see more of our Austin Offsite?? Check out our case study here!