How to plan a business away day agenda

28th August 2019
Countryside sun - planning a business away day agenda

Recently we wrote about how to come up with business and strategy away day ideas. If you haven’t read that yet, take a look, it’s a good primer for coming up with some great away day ideas.

In that article, we touched on some ways to plan your agenda around your desired outcome for the away day. In this post, we’re going to go into some more detail on what should drive the agenda for your away day and how you can go about managing it.

Planning the away day

As a refresher, before you go about planning the specific agenda, make sure you clarify the following points. They’ll help to keep you on track.

What’s the planned outcome?

What would you like the result of the away day to be? Is it planned as a way to communicate with your team? If that’s the case, you’ll want to ensure your agenda enables people to understand your message. Perhaps it’s an opportunity for team building, so you want to see bonds being built. Maybe you’re celebrating so you’re expecting to see an uplift in team morale after a period of intense work.

Think about why you’re planning the day and write down the single most important way you’re going to measure how successful it is. That will help you to refine your agenda.

Team on a cliff

Who will be coming?

A few questions to answer before planning your away day agenda:

  • How many people are coming?
  • Who are they (ie. all of the team, one team from within the business, family)?
  • Do they have any special requirements (e.g. vegetarian, unable to participate in physical activity etc)?

It’s important to understand who is going to be attending your away day so that you can make sure the agenda doesn’t contain anything inappropriate for your team.

Location

Where is the away day going to be held? The most obvious impact this will have on the agenda comes down to timing. Consider:

  • How long will it take your team to travel there?
  • How long will it take your team to get comfortable in the new surroundings?

Both of these things will eat up time from your agenda. Don’t let it take you by surprise, factor in time for travel and getting settled.

Team building activity

Types of away day and how to plan the agenda

Something else that we looked at in our previous article on business away days were the different types of away day.

In that example, we looked at three specific types of away day; strategy day, team building day and celebration day.

There are many other types of team away day that sit alongside these, but in general, they all fit into one of the following categories. Here’s how to prepare an agenda for them:

Offsite meetings

The most formal type of away day, an offsite meeting is predominantly an opportunity to hold a formal meeting in an alternative setting to your normal surroundings.

There are numerous benefits to this, most of them boil down to the fact that being placed in a different setting encourages your team to think differently.

Things to remember when writing your agenda here are as follows:

  • Think about timing - nobody wants to sit in a four-hour meeting, especially if their role is predominantly listening.
  • Appoint a facilitator - give someone the responsibility of refereeing the meeting. Ensure they have the power to keep discussions and the agenda on time.
  • Break things up - have a clear beginning, middle and end. Like any good story, a meeting too will benefit from a logical structure and conclusion.
  • Think about pace - The intro can be delivered by one person, with the rest of the team passive. Then invite open discussion to liven up the room. Slow the pace again with some summary. Change the pace to keep everyone engaged.
  • Refreshments - Go on too long and everyone will end up thinking more about food than your agenda. Plan in food breaks. Make sure you don’t then present something dry and in-depth immediately after food. Your team will experience a dip in energy levels after a meal, so ease everyone back into the agenda gently!

4x4 driving at The Great Barn, Oxfordshire

Team building day

Less formal, but just as carefully planned, a team-building day is typically a much more physically active occasion. The day consists of activities designed to help your team work together and learn more about each other.

Thankfully, if you’ve chosen the right venue and organiser, the onus will be on them to come up with the perfect agenda for your team building day.

Take, for example, the go kart team challenge that we run for companies visiting us for a team-building day. Great for large teams, participants are split into smaller groups and then complete a series of team-building activities in order to win parts to build a kart.

Once complete, groups head to their garage to build their kart before racing them against other teams.

Team building treasure hunts, another activity we put on for our clients, are a slower-paced way to help your team collaborate and work together. Teams can work together to cover a 250-acre estate finding items and solving cryptic puzzles.

When planning a team building agenda, we’ve got one top tip: work with an expert. Tell them the challenges you and your team come up against, the experts will plan the perfect agenda for you!

Team away day

Something of a hybrid; a team away day typically mixes the benefits of both an offsite meeting and team building day. This is often the most suitable format for your away day agenda, as it enables you to set the tone in a formal fashion before opening the day up to less formal activities.

Having put on a large number of team away days for our clients, we’ve actually prepared some sample agendas. You can find them here:

In either case, the agenda should work like this:

  1. Start the day with tea, coffee and snacks
  2. Move into the meeting room for a meeting (plan for it to last until lunch, but remember the tips above about managing the pace of the meeting)
  3. Serve lunch
  4. Move onto the activities

Leadership day

A leadership day is slightly different from the above categories in that it usually requires a customised agenda. There’s a clear desired outcome which is to strengthen the leadership skills of a management team.

As a result, a leadership day can be formal, informal or both, depending on the specific needs of those attending.

When we’re tasked with putting on a leadership day, we dip into our toolbox of over 30 tailored team-building exercises to help put on a day the fits perfectly with the team attending.

Take notes on your team away day

Other things to consider when planning an away day agenda

A few more things to consider before you plan your away day agenda.

Brief everyone beforehand

Surprises are sometimes nice, but when it comes to an away day, guests usually appreciate knowing what’s being prepared. Letting your team know the plan for the day (even if you keep the main events a secret) helps them to plan what to wear and how to prepare themselves.

Briefing everyone beforehand also enables you to communicate the aim of the day so that your team can help to ensure it’s a success.

Take notes

Don’t let the day pass you by without noticing what’s going on. This is particularly relevant in team building and leadership days. Take a note (even if it’s a mental note) of the key challenges and successes on the day. You never know what you’ll learn and when it will be useful in the future.

Reflect

As with taking notes, once you finish the away day, make a point of reflecting on the day with the rest of the team. Whether that’s in a formal meeting to review the day or whether you informally catch up with everyone over a coffee. Hear what your team has to say about the day and how useful they found it.

Conclusion

So there you have it, everything you need to plan the perfect away day agenda. Still stuck for ideas? Get in touch with our team and we’d be happy to assist in planning the perfect company away day for you.