Virtual Teams

Six things to include in your first face-to-face off-site meeting?

Many of the people we speak to on our remote and hybrid training workshops are looking forward to their first opportunity to meet their colleagues face-to-face for two years.

Some individuals have joined their organizations during that period and never had significant time with their colleagues. Others are looking forward to spending face time with people they know well.

Leaders are looking forward to the opportunity to re-engage and lift their people after a tough time.

You may be planning to do this at the office or to take people off site to access other facilities or activities.

As you plan these events, take a moment to think back to the off-sites or company meetings you attended in the past. Whenever I went to one of these events, I always asked people what they thought and the universal answer was “the presentations were a bit boring, but it’s worth coming for the networking and social catch-up”.

Hopefully we’ve all learned that we don’t really need to get face-to-face to passively consume information or listen to presentations. We have also learned or re-learned the crucial importance of community, social connection and learning together.

As I was writing this, I remembered a company conference we were asked to join on day 2. On the first day, after a full day of presentations from senior managers they had organised a “team building” event which consisted of taking people to the theatre, followed by a formal dinner. In a theatre if you talk to your colleagues, people tell you to shut up. At a formal dinner you get to network with about two people. The objective of the event was “networking” but the process they designed just about prevented any opportunities to network.

Please take some time to think about this in planning your next off-site or team meeting. Resist the temptation to fill the day with content, that’s not what people have been missing!


  1. make sure you allow time for introduction and assimilation of new people.
  2. create opportunities for people to share their experiences and catch up – one technique we sometimes use in our team is to give everybody a flip chart and ask them to draw images of “good news at home and good news at work” – we then use these to update our colleagues with what’s been going on in our lives.
  3. spend as much time as you can in small groups of up to six people so you can have real conversations and get real work done together
  4. do a fun activity together that isn’t too engrossing. Give people a common purpose to work together but allow time for them to chat and catch up
  5. give lots of time for unstructured socialising, though you may want to change the groups from time to time to make sure that cliques don’t form
  6. look for an opportunity for people to learn together and to establish new norms about how they will work together in the future.

In the new remote and hybrid world, our face-to-face time is a scarce and valuable resource. When we can get together, we need to focus that scarce time on building and maintaining our community, relationships and learning  together. All the rest we can do virtually.

If you’d like some support on designing or facilitating your event or need someone to run an engaging session on hybrid working, please get in touch

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