There's nothing like a great offsite to bring your team together and create strong team cohesion. So we had a second one last week in Bath and it was pretty awesome. Not gonna lie, organising an offsite is no simple task, planning meals, activities, and accommodation is actually super hard! We were surprised by the lack of companies dedicated to organising such trips end to end for startups (business idea alert!). Anyway, we did it ourselves and here is the resume and outcome.
Before planning anything else, you need to identify what it is you want to accomplish during your offsite. Is it about working on communication or collaboration? Do you want to focus on goal setting? Make sure all participants understand what the goals are before the event takes place.
We wanted the team to relax have a great time and switch off from work. We had been working like madmen for the past months and wanted a place where the team could relax, and not think about work with some Christmas vibes.
The location of your offsite is important as it will have an impact on the overall atmosphere of the event. If you pick somewhere too close to home, everybody may be distracted by work emails or other commitments. On the other hand, if you go too far away people may feel unmotivated to go. Aim for somewhere that strikes a balance between convenience and excitement—a place where everyone can feel comfortable while still being encouraged to think outside the box.
Spent honestly hours on Aibnb to find this gem 15 mn away from Bath. We were nearby a forest and the most beautiful canal alongside the house. The house itself was pretty insane, almost too big, we all fought to get the biggest room but Mitch won - managed to convince us he was the tallest in the team so deserved the biggest bed (still believe I am).
We spent the first evening cooking and eating by the chimney watching the Grinch and Die Hard 1.
The next morning we went on our first walk around the house to say hi to the neighbour, mostly cows and weird birds, incredible landscapes, and snow everywhere.
We discussed our pricing strategy and came up with a few good ideas - usage-based, no feature limitation - let's see how long before we change it to a new one.
Here you might think - didn't you want to not talk about work, well in practice we did but had 2 or 3 talking points we wanted to engage in a relaxing matter while on the trip - pricing and community. Those are 2 core elements of our GTM and being a team mostly composed of engineers we rarely find the moments during the week to tackle these topics as a team. Turns out if you got the right engineers in your team they will have amazing input even on topics far from their comfort zones. That is why our engineers are “product engineers” - they need to be able to make product decisions as we don’t have any product managers in the team.
We started by visiting the Bath Christmas market in the city centre. If you haven't been to Bath, I highly recommend it, the architecture is like nothing else I have seen in the UK and the people are super nice. Yet, get a car if you plan to move around, we were 15’ from the city yet impossible to get a taxi. One evening (first time this year the thermostat hit -5 in the UK) we had to queue for 30’ outside which wasn't the most fun part of the trip!
Then we had plan an afternoon at the Royal Crescent for an afternoon tea with quite the creative cocktails - amazing food! We then went for our Spa time, and that was my personal highlight of the trip, just a nice relaxing time with the team, chatting about the company possibility at the Sauna, then trying different massages.
When we came out we were all looking well rested except Mitch who asked for a deep tissue one and came out completely broken - we were all silently laughing 😂
The next day we had our second hike of the trip then went for a lovely brunch in the city.
Kinda reads like I’m writing a travel diary but building a company is also planning trips and nice activity for the folks you spend the most time with on a day to day, getting out of your habits to try new cool stuff and build great memories.
If I was to redo it I would Involve my team in the planning process: You don't have to do all of the planning yourself; involve your team in deciding on activities or even selecting locations! This will help build trust as well as motivation for attending—and participating—in your offsite!
Organizing an offsite can be daunting but also incredibly rewarding if done right. Whether you are planning your first offsite or your tenth, keep these 3 key points in mind: avoid talking about work too much during the event; make sure that whatever you plan is meaningful yet cost-effective; use this time as an opportunity for your team members to get know each other better