The reality is that, right now, you’ve got a lot on your plate. You’ve got so much to do on your to-do list that there’s barely enough time to get it all done. It’s one thing after another, each more urgent than the last, and time is so precious we feel as though we don’t have the luxury of time to ourselves to think, to reflect, let alone getting time away from the office.

Yet on a personal level, most of us find that it makes a difference when we stop and consider things before we just bash on, and even more of a difference when we talk things through with others, and get some perspective on what’s really important and what really matters.

Yes, there are lots of meetings to go to in most workplaces, (probably too many!) but these are not generally for sharing or exploring ideas and possibilities, they are for information giving, reporting and dealing with immediate issues.

This ‘meetings culture’ in organisations results in several things:

  • People still tend to work in silos – Despite being in a team, most people still do their work primarily on their own, and don’t use the benefits of working together or develop the relationships with others that make that easier.
  • Urgent gets done rather than important– People deal with whatever seems most urgent, and often neglect the important things that would make a positive difference to the culture, their effectiveness, and help to reduce the number of immediate issues in the future.
  • We lose the wider perspective – If people are focussed on what needs to be done next, they lose their perspective on what they are trying to achieve overall, and the consequences of their actions for others who are involved in the process.

What’s the alternative? – Most teams have an away day at least once a year. Too often these are just a lengthier and more complex version of the meetings they have back in the workplace.

But what if they were to use that time differently? – To do things that they don’t have time for in the office, like think things through, reflect, generate ideas and be creative? What if we used those away-days to help us work closer together, develop our skills and build a real team culture?

The benefits of space and time away from the office can be enormous:

  • The team can develop their relationships with each other in a relaxed environment
  • They can look at ways of enhancing their effectiveness in working together, so they get all that stuff done more easily
  • They can reflect on the bigger picture, what they’re trying to achieve overall, and develop ideas on how to do that more effectively
  • They feel valued enough to be given the space to think about something other than their immediate list of things to do
  • The team can make important decisions together, so that priorities are clarified and do not get confused
  • They can explore how best to work together, in order to achieve their goals for the year
  • They can develop particular skills across the team that will enable them to deliver their departmental objectives more easily
  • These developed skills become a shared learning, a common language of development that all the team share, something that brings them together
  • They have the opportunity to look at things that perhaps they don’t have time for at the office, things that are important to the team as a whole, but just not important enough to make the top of individual to-do lists
  • They can come up with more innovative solutions to problems because they are away from the BAU (business as usual) tasks back at the office and have time to reflect and THINK
  • Teams are a living system, a social network, being away from the office reminds everyone that they are not just their job titles or roles, but real human beings and that those human beings are actually rather nice to work with!

We at Meta have facilitated such days for teams in organisations over the past 18 years, and we know just how valuable they can be in helping to create sustainable success in the workplace.

Time and time again we hear the same things: ‘It’s just so good to get away from the office together’, ‘I feel like this has really brought us together’, ‘I thought it was just me that thought like this, it’s nice to know we are all on the same page’, ‘It’s nice to have some space and time to think!’ ‘I can see how we can make this work if we work together on this’.

We all instinctively know that time away from the office together as a team isn’t a ‘jolly’ – (unless you decide that go-karting is the way to go!) – it isn’t a luxury; it’s an essential to the long-term success of the team. Without away days teams become fragmented and individualistic. It is no longer about the team and what the team needs to deliver but ‘how can I get done what I have on my to-do lists, so that I am in the clear’. That may sound harsh, but for many of us that is the truth.

At Meta, we want to change that story. We want to help you to create a team that grows and develops together. Having your away days facilitated by an independent, someone outside of the team dynamics, who is not involved with the organisation, has been shown to make a real difference to the effectiveness and longer-term success of a team away day.

So think about your team away day this year. Firstly, do you have one? If not, you might want to think about setting one up.

Would you like to get the most from that day away from the office? Would you like to develop the working practice of your team? Would you like your team away day to be fun, enjoyable, motivating, productive, inspiring and different? If the answer to these questions is ‘yes please!’ then why not get in touch with us here at Meta?

At Meta we’ve been running staff and team away days for years. We’ve worked with teams at every level within organisations, global to start up, from CEOs and directors to people working on the shop floor. We know what works and over the years we’ve developed and refined our programmes, so that they are practical and easily applicable back in the workplace, thus overcoming that traditional ‘that was a nice away day, and now we’re back in the office, we’ll revert back to the way we’ve always worked’.

Now more than ever we need to be investing in our teams and giving proper time for their development. We love helping teams to realise their potential, and we don’t want your away day to be wasted. We want it to become a way for you to sustainably change the way your team works for the better.

At Meta we truly believe that its time to utilise this opportunity away from the office to its fullest, so that your team comes back raring to go and ready to give of their best. So why not use YOUR away days this year to get more? Use YOUR team away day to motivate, develop and inspire your team – you’ll be so glad you did.

Have a great month everyone,

Jo and Di xx

About Jo Clarkson

Jo Clarkson is the CEO of Meta and a frequent writer of the blog.
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