The benefits of going off-site

THE EARLY PART of the year is often popular for forward planning and goal setting for the months ahead. In fact, getting off-site for these sessions can prove really effective and generate some valuable analysis and planning. Sometimes assumed to be the stuff of better economic times, in fact, off-site sessions are make business sense in a tough economy.

They give teams (be they from the same firm or along with clients) the chance to revisit strategies, plans or priorities. They can speed up decision-making and can also be used to generate valuable discussions, cross-selling or even networking among individuals.

It’s interesting that some off-site sessions prove a real catalyst for action, while others remain a missed opportunity. My colleague, Andrew Warren, has a number of tips on how to get the best from these meetings which I thought would be valuable to share.

1 Make off-site sessions action focused and always follow-up. Try to make sure the it isn’t just a day out of the office or simply a ‘talking shop’. Instead, use the time to deliver something that is more meaningful and has greater measurable benefit to your business.

2 Set realistic objectives. There are limits to what can be achieved at off-site meetings and the level of detail that participants can go into during them. It’s therefore worth defining key objectives and setting out a timetable to establish what will be the best use of time.

3 Focus on forward thinking. While it may be appropriate to have some scene-setting and review, surely the best benefit of any event is to think about the period ahead. Consider what has to be done to improve or maintain performance and what are the likely key market developments and the future agenda priorities. 

4 Consider the return on investment. Always set a budget for your meeting and measure its return on investment from the outcomes of the session. For example, what efficiency measures were identified and how much is this likely to save or bring to the business?

5 Make them fun. Don’t lose sight of the fact that an off-site session gives people the chance to mix with different contacts and enjoy some valuable relationship building – which in turn could lead to valuable business opportunities.

John Timperley is managing director at The Results Consultancy

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