Why Are Off-site Meetings Becoming More Popular and What Are the Benefits?

Few professionals and businesses will claim meetings are productive and useful. Yet, it is virtually impossible to run a business without them. The upside is that there are ways to turn mundane, unproductive meetings into collaborative exercises that result in actionable and meaningful outcomes. The biggest cause behind meeting fatigue is tied to hosts who simply have not learned how to organize and facilitate meetings that are focused, engaging, and results-oriented.

Meetings that matter most are not those that are scheduled on a routine basis—occurring once a week or twice a week. Rather, the meetings that matter most are those that are not the reoccurring ones and moreover ones that take place offsite—away from the distractions and interruptions of the office.

The reasons small businesses schedule offsite meetings vary, although team-building, improved efficiencies, and strategic planning typically top the list. Digital tools used to facilitate communications such as Slack, deliver web and video conferencing for collaborative meeting, and enable efficient project management are requisite for many small business teams, but they are not a panacea for offsite meetings.

Reasons Why Off-site Meetings Are Growing in Popularity

Employee engagement—and retention—remains a huge challenge for businesses of all shapes and sizes today. According to a Gallup poll, a staggering nearly two-thirds of workers in the U.S. are disengaged. These disengaged employees cost companies lost productivity and revenues. A study in Harvard Business Review, for example, indicates disengaged employees experience 16% lower profitability and 18% lower productivity than engaged employees.

And while managers who understand how to define a purpose and mission for their employees and a well-structured development plan for each are critical, broader team engagement plays a pivotal role as well. This is where offsite meetings can provide value—facilitating communications, enabling collaboration, and creating opportunities for teams to gain greater insights into corporate objectives and causes.

Benefits of Off-Site Meetings

Off-site meetings provide other benefits as well. Following is a quick rundown on some of the more prevalent ones:

  1. Coalescence on Corporate Vision/Objectives.

It is difficult for organizations, teams, and individual employees to allocate focused attention and time to understand an organization’s broader mission and objectives while they are juggling projects and responding to emails, texts, and phone calls during the typical business day. An off-site meeting gives an organization dedicated time to get everyone focused on doing so, without the interruptions that bombard them during the average workday.

  1. Time for Creative Innovation.

While there are benefits to open office plans, there are disadvantages as well. One takeaway is that they diminish the ability—for teams and individuals—to think creativity and to come up with innovative solutions to problems. With many businesses now embracing open-office plans or even using coworking space, the chance to spent time focused on developing creative solutions is important—and off-site meetings are a great time and place to do so.

  1. Building Collaborative, High-Performance Teams.

Trust is a crucial factor in building teams who instinctively collaborate and brainstorm and deliver results that always meet or exceed targeted outcomes. It is difficult to build trust in hallway conversations and formal 30- or 60-minute meetings. This is where an offsite comes into play and can help teams form tight working relationships that increase volume and velocity. Off-site meetings are also great venues to develop and inculcate behaviors high-performing teams need to embody.

Planning and Executing a Successful Off-site Meeting

Successful off-site meetings require solid planning and execution—both on the part of the meeting planner as well as the participants. Following are some tips that small businesses can do to ensure their off-site meetings are a huge success:

  1. Understanding the Objectives of the Meeting.

It is impossible to cover everything during one off-site meeting. Planners need to determine what is on the table and what is not on the table and to design the meeting agenda around those designated topics/issues.

  1. Finding the Right Meeting Space.

Great meeting space books fast, and organizations need to ensure they identify and reserve the space well beforehand. Rented meeting rooms such as Davinci Meeting Rooms are a great option for many small business off-site meetings. It takes a lot of time to plan the logistics for a meeting. Thus, it is important for off-site meetings to be planned well in advance. Waiting until the last moment is not an option.

  1. Communicating the Meeting Agenda.

Once the topics/issues for the off-site meeting have been identified, a detailed agenda needs to be created and distributed to all meeting participants.

  1. Pinpointing Pre-Meeting Action Items.

Not only should meeting participants receive the meeting agenda beforehand, but they should be assigned pre-meeting homework (e.g., brainstorming on topics, identification of issues related to a problem, etc.) and told to come to the meeting with those in hand (or even submit them beforehand).

  1. Determining Meeting Logistics.

Planning the logistics of the off-site meeting is important. This includes determining moderators, secretaries, and timekeepers, planning meals and refreshments (and when to serve them), and configuring seating.

  1. Following Up After the Meeting.

Post-meeting communications and action items are just as important as the meeting itself. A successful meeting can quickly become a failure unless clear action items are identified and responsibilities assigned for enacting them. This includes how organizations and teams will determine if they were completed.

With the right planning and execution, off-site meetings have the potential to help take organizations and teams to new heights. Of course, participants can also view them as an utter waste when planning and execution are awry. Perhaps Abraham Lincoln’s instructions are planning are apropos here: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”


Subscribe to Our Blog

Archive Show Archives