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Explosion in the Number of Off-Site Meetings!

March 18, 2022

For many companies’ off-site meetings are key to getting employees back in person. Prior to the pandemic off-sites were largely a way to get entire companies or teams together to mark milestone events such as a sales kick-off or end of year celebrations. But as more companies embrace hybrid working, and fully remote teams the concept of gathering employees periodically is looking like the best way to strengthen company culture and foster connections between colleagues.

The fear of loosing a cohesive culture has driven some back to fully working in the offices, think the likes of some of the major investment banks etc, see HERE. However there is now lots of research showing how many employees both prefer working and are more productive when working from home, see HERE for a report by McKinsey’s highlighting this.

How to have your cake and eat it – Increased Productivity of Hybrid working while maintaining cohesive culture etc = Frequent off-site meetings!

Examples include Ethos, a San Francisco-based life insurance provider, the company’s staff of about 350 people works largely remotely, but now holds gatherings for its leadership team roughly every six weeks. Similarly at the technology giant Inc. have held recent gatherings in a backyard in Palm Desert, Calif., in company offices in New York and at hotels in states including Arizona, said Brent Hyder, the company’s chief people officer and president. Team agreements outline how employees will work and how often they’ll come together in person. “The No. 1 danger to Salesforce and other companies is that people are going to become disengaged in the culture of the company,” Mr. Hyder said, one reason his team set a commitment to meet face-to-face once a quarter. Those agreements also help to give employees some long-term certainty about how they will work and gather, he said.

Gathering outside an office, in venues that give employees a chance to go on a walk or to enjoy a picnic, can help forge connections while work discussions go on. Balancing socialising and work demands at the new off-site is one of the areas that companies will refine as these periodic meetings become more common, management experts say. An example of what is needed was recently quoted in the Wall Steet Journal:  AdColony booked the top floor at a boutique hotel in midtown Manhattan as a pop-up office space for employees after giving up its office in the pandemic. Staffers mingled over catered food and huddled together for discussions on a rooftop terrace, said Benjamin Bring, a vice president of sales for the east region. “Half of the time spent is really just banter, and that’s what you miss.” Mr. Bring had to take a video call from a client at the hotel, but there were no meeting rooms, and it was too noisy to step outside. So, he and a co-worker stood in a common space, gesturing to colleagues to stay quiet. “We were shoulder-to-shoulder trying to squeeze into his laptop video screen, so I think they got half of my head, half of his,” he said. “It was awkward, but we made fun of it.”

Here at Cavendish Venues, we are seeing huge growth in this market. A search of event titles on our booking system shows 29 kick-off events across all of our Central London Meeting spaces in 2019, we have surpassed this number already in 2022 with kick off meetings for the likes of BT plc, Big Talk Productions etc. The key to a successful off site include:

  • Easy to reach locations, no matter how good the venue if it’s hard-to-reach attendees will have to give up significant amounts of personal time just to get there, this in turn creates resentment etc. Central Locations are best, often the ideal format is a companywide / team wide meeting followed by time for socialising, building the corporate culture.
  • Fantastic customer service. We all know that nothing upsets more than a bad service. The meetings and conference industry has always had a reputation for poor customer service, see HERE for an article in the Meetings Magazine. At Cavendish Venues we put customer service first and last, see HERE, we have one lots of awards as a result, HERE.
  • Brilliant Facilities: If you are getting your team together it must be a good event, you don’t want soggy sandwiches in a dour meeting room. We have some truly amazing rooms, some in a Grade 11 listed building others overlooking a part of the original London wall. Combine this with award winning catering and you truly have a winning formula.

meetings, hybrid

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