No matter if you are for or against it, the fact of the matter is that remote and hybrid work models are here to stay (in industries where remote work is possible). Many companies considered it to simply be a temporary measure to help curb the spread of COVID-19, but as the pandemic stretched out for longer than initially anticipated, more and more members of the workforce found they preferred remote work altogether. Now, employers are planning company onsite retreats for their hybrid or remote workforce.
While some companies remained adamant that employees eventually return to office, others found that allowing remote or hybrid work was a huge competitive advantage as it pertained to recruiting and maintaining the top talent.
All that being said, remote work does present some challenges that companies have to overcome – particularly surrounding employees connecting with one another and building strong coworker relationships.
One way companies have started to overcome this issue is by hosting onsites where remote employees travel to the office a couple of times a year, often for important meetings and employee parties.
Advantages of Onsites
Some of the biggest advantages of hosting onsites for your remote employees are getting everyone together all at once, and breaking the minutia of Zoom meetings and planned interactions.
Even with tools like Slack and Zoom, there is no way to have the same kind of friendly banter and free-flowing idea share that you get in-person. When all meetings are scheduled and the topics for those meetings set, you limit the creativity that may come out when people are just chatting with another desk-to-desk or at the “water cooler”.
Getting people together in-person can help your employees build stronger personal connections with their coworkers, and hopefully have more comfortability sharing their ideas in the future.
Additionally, it allows employees to feel more a part of your company. When people are just sitting behind a computer in the home office, it can be easy to forget that they are a part of a like-minded team. Being able to build personal connections and align under one mission, can help build loyalty and pride.
How to Plan
Pick a Location – The first step to planning an onsite is picking a location. The obvious first choice would be to hold the onsite at the company headquarters – that’s a great option – but it might not be viable for some companies if they downsized during the pandemic or never had a physical office big enough. If the company office isn’t an option, it’s important to pick a central location for the “offsite onsite”, and to ensure the location has adequate WiFi for all-hands presentations and any other digital activities you may have planned.
Pick a Date – The next step is to determine when the onsite will be held. Because your workforce is potentially spread across the country and traveling will be involved, you want to make sure you pick a date far enough ahead that employees have adequate planning time. It’s alright to make the onsite mandatory, but just keep in mind that remote workers may have children and other obligations that make traveling difficult, so try to be as accommodating as possible.
Determine Lodging – With an onsite for remote employees, you’ll need to provide or reimburse for lodging while they are in town. This can be a bit expensive, so a good option is contacting a local hotel for reserving a block of rooms – much like people do for weddings. This can be a good way to get a lower rate per room, and save the company some money. However, for those companies with smaller workforces, renting a few large AirBnB properties can be an option, just be sure to keep in mind too close of quarters might be stress-inducing for some.
Select Fun Activities – As you are planning your onsite, you want to ensure you plan some activities and time for employees to just hang out with one another and have a good time. A good option is to reserve the morning for important meetings and planning sessions, and then the afternoon and early evening for fun, team-building activities. One option is to rent VR headsets and hold friendly competitions among employees with prizes for winners like gift cards or an extra few hours of PTO.
Collect Feedback – The last step for planning your onsite, should be determining how you are going to collect employee feedback after the event is over. It goes without saying that paying for travel, lodging, food, drinks, and more for all your employees will not be a small expense for your company, so you want to ensure that employees are not only having a good time, but getting true value out of the experience. You can do this by sending out anonymous employee surveys after the event is over, and collecting insights to learn what went well and how you can improve your future onsites.
Ultimately, hosting onsites for remote employees is a great way to connect your employees to their coworkers and your company as a whole. It can help build trust and loyalty, and align the team under one mission. If your office is no longer technologically fit to equip your entire workforce, eTech is here for all your technology rental needs. From computers and WiFi hotspots to VR headsets and TVs. Reach out today.
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