Why Off-site Meetings Work

It’s not hard to imagine the scene in a busy office environment: It’s Tuesday morning – up pops the notification bar on Jason’s desktop computer calendar, it’s 10 minutes until the creative strategy meeting – ah! time to put the kettle on. Jason knows he has at least 20 minutes until everyone arrives. Emanuel and Fiona have already sent their absence apologies, Craig is still finalising his presentation, Martin can’t get the video to work, and Gillian the Head of Department has just taken a client call. No need to hurry, there might even be time to dash off a few quick emails. There is certainly, no need to concentrate on this meeting.

This reality is one of the reasons why companies hold meetings outside of the office. People behave differently in outside, neutral environments. Unlike scheduled meetings in the company’s conference room – where time is also often spent with heads down doing emails, exiting for phone calls or witnessing random departures due to conflicting meeting schedules – when you invest your time in an offsite meeting, you have the opportunity to separate the daily grind from the topics at hand. You can better focus your team and hold them accountable for follow-up. It also provides an opportunity for team building activities and social interaction that otherwise is spent going back to one’s desk and the usual routine.

Technology
Specially-designed meeting venues can also offer an opportunity to hire audio-visual experts along with the latest presentation technology at an affordable cost. For new business meetings this is a real plus, helping to show the company to its best advantage. It also works well when doing workshops or strategy meetings. Managers can really concentrate, with no worries about whether the audio or video connections are going to work or if the presentation is going to be shown without any technical glitches.

New audio-visual trends include Gesture Media which allows the speaker to manipulate the presentation with body movement rather than a mouse, keyboard or slide advancer – very much like playing Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect. Touch-screen technology can also transform presentations. This is like using iPad or Kindle to pull up information with your fingertips, but on a large screen and is great for use in workshops or as a general information board at a meeting.

There are ways these days to create a fully-orchestrated, multi-image presentation by using software that runs on multiple projectors or other devises like LED walls and plasma screens. This technology allows for the placement of visual content at any screen at any time. During the presentation you can switch to show different information on certain screens whilst showing alternative content on others. Then there are video-mapping technologies which allow you to project images on any multi-dimensional shape or form. Almost any surface can be used to become a dynamic video display of 2D and 3D images that can transform what is reality for the audience into illusions. Companies such as Nokia, Samsung and BMW have used this technology to create amazing promotion campaigns for their products in major cities across the world, commonly projecting scenes onto the sides of buildings. This kind of technology is great for outdoor venues and evening receptions.

Motivation and Wellbeing
Taking people off-site offers more than having access to the latest technology, although this is a bonus in itself. An outside meeting has gravitas. People give it greater importance. They think about it more, discuss it and plan it better. Managers become more focussed on completing objectives.

Off-site meetings are a fantastic way of motivating employees. They can really shake things up; revitalising and reenergising employees whilst building team spirit and getting the creative juices flowing again. Due to the investment placed, personnel believe they are important and trust that they will be listened too – that their contribution is worthwhile. This in turn can only lead to improved business success.

There are other elements too such as privacy, noise-factors and being in an inspirational environment. There is nothing to distract from the meeting in hand. The food is often more of a treat and a talking point too. Scientists have proven that eating the right food improves efficiency, the ability to concentrate and mental speed, whilst also lowering stress levels. Nutritious food, as well as being delicious, also stops that mid-afternoon slump so that meetings can be as beneficial in the afternoons as in the mornings.

Knowing that a fully-equipped meeting room is on hand and backed by a dedicated hotel staff that ensures all the little but important details are managed makes the world of difference – far better than having a meeting in-house or in a noisy, public coffee bar or restaurant. It means that busy people can come along, concentrate on the meeting itself and have a memorable day.