Team development at WorkTripp

What a great offsite strategy looks like

A year-round cycle of connection & support

We're often asked, 'what does a great offsite strategy look like?'
The answer is that it's more than a one-off get-together.
At WorkTripp, we make it super easy for anyone to create a high-impact, memorable team offsite. But if you're looking for sustained team engagement and performance - and, let's face it, who isn't? - you need a longer-term strategy to get your team together. For those who like an HR trend: yes, we're talking about a gathering strategy.
Whether or not you believe the oft-cited stats that we only remember 10% of what we read, it is clear (and pretty logical) that we remember what we've learned better...
  1. when we have time to digest it,
  2. when we engage with it through discussion with others, and
  3. when we apply it straight away.
Offsites offer a great opportunity for social learning, creating the space and permission to facilitate points 1 & 2. But the harsh truth is that single experiences - however great they are - are unlikely to drive the change in behaviours that you and your team are probably looking for. We're creatures of habit, after all.
Last week, I was having a coffee with Q Hamirani - WorkTripp advisor and creator of Airbnb's revered 'Live and work from anywhere policy' - talking about tightening L&D budgets. The smart money, we agreed, is on using team gatherings effectively to drive those business-critical activities that get side-lined when we're all busy doing.
What we need is to redress the balance between always-on, task-based, hyper-efficiency and the deeper work of connection, innovation and long-term thinking. We need a more sustainable way of working together.

Seasonal Offsites

So, let's look at how a regular cadence of team offsites can support collective learning & development.
We're research geeks at WorkTripp and a lot of the science that underpins our work is about connection: connection to our environment, to each other and to ourselves. Boosting these connections leads to greater creativity, increased psychological safety and higher intrinsic motivation for our work - all significant drivers of team performance.
One way to do this is to think of our team dynamics in seasons (which, in business contexts we've rebranded as 'quarters'). Each time spring comes around, it looks a little different, and so do the teams we work in. Scaffolding the year with regular offsites help us mark those shifts and can be a great tool for regular reflection, reprioritisation and recommitment.
Garry Pratt - entrepreneur, group walking leader, reluctant academic and WorkTripp early adopter - comes up with a gloriously simple solution in his book, The Creativity Factor:
A very elegant element that can be really useful and powerful is simply to channel or reflect your conversations to mirror the seasons.

Winter: Hunkered down and wrapped up warm, the winder is a time for reflection and planning, to get everything right and ready for seed, grow and harvest through the rest of the year.

Spring: This is the season for preparing the ground and planting seeds, for an openness to what might be possible, for investigating all new ideas and beginning to sow the seeds for their later success.

Summer: By summer, you'll know what is growing strongly, the fruits that are appearing, what you can prepare to harvest and will yield the greatest results. It may be a time to write off a crop (idea) and leave the field fallow until next spring, but it is also a time to recharge yourselves, sit in the sun and have a break before the hard work of harvest.

Fall / Autumn: This is the harvest season, so all hands on deck to reap the rewards or perhaps work on optimization, to refine your innovation and new ideas.
It's pretty neat. But there are other familiar frameworks you can adopt to scaffold your offsite strategy.
You could theme your team offsites around Patrick Lencioni's famous Five Dysfunctions of a Team model:
Build Trust → Eliminate fear of Conflict → Gather Commitment → Hold each other Accountable → Drive team Results
...or follow our method at WorkTripp, focusing each offsite on improving our collective ways of working:

Keep the Connection

Whatever cadence you choose for your team offsites, it's important we don't neglect the space between those gatherings.
Going back to the importance of 'application' in learning we flagged at the top of post (point 3), there are many ways to implement this off the back of your offsite, when motivation and engagement are high.
The Subtle Approach
If you've read James Clear or Richard Thaler's work, you'll be familiar with the power of the 'nudge'. A well-placed reminder goes a long way in encouraging us to put learnings into action.
We're big fans of giving the team a notebook at the start of the offsite, in which they can jot down thoughts, ideas & learnings as they go. Build reflection time into your offsite agenda to support this, where the team can share the new habits or rituals they want to implement when they're back at their desk. Social accountability is a great tool to nudge us forward and drive shifts in behaviour and mindset.
Providing Resources
If you're using your offsite to introduce a new topic or skill, draw on engaging free resources to prime the team before you meet. That way you can use your time together to share thoughts, ideas and challenges, rather than just downloading new information.
Sophie & I are both complete audiophiles, so our first choice is always podcasts. Better than sharing lengthy articles or powerpoint slides [wince], podcasts are accessible to everyone and can be consumed on a walk or while travelling to the offsite itself.
We have podcast recommendations for days - get in touch and we'd be delighted to point you in the direction of our favourite episodes!
Formal Support
If the team would benefit from more structured support, look no further than our amazing WorkTripp friends. We only partner with companies that get it: they share our commitment to supercharging team culture and exceptional performance - and they offer best-in-class products & services we love.
Check out our WorkTripp partners here.

Know where you want to go

Whatever cadence and back-at-desk support you choose, take Stephen Covey's advice and "begin with the end in mind". It may well take more than a season to truly build trust in your team (for example), but if you know the goal and you can measure what good looks like - and yes, we'll help you with that too - you'll soon start to see how scaffolding offsites into your team ways of working generates transformative business results.
And who doesn't love a good ROI calculation?
If you'd like to know more about how WorkTripp and our amazing partners can scaffold your team development, get in touch at
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