Any business away day, remote or face to face, works well when linking team spirit and work challenges, creating a positive improvement in the culture and strategy ideas. Where awaydays only exist as “fun” these links are weaker and less effective. (OK, I think they’re a waste of time). “Just fun” also creates cynicism in an overworked and worried team. If you’re thinking of running a virtual away day, consider these benefits and problems.
Benefits of virtual away days
A virtual away day, or series of sessions, can affect elements of the team’s culture and create focus on the operational issues of the team; without expensive venue and travel costs.
Virtual awaydays can help the team socialise and work together towards common goals (work related and “fun”). Team members can understand each other’s perspectives, and gain confidence (developing trust) and improve communication.
Virtual team sessions can do this in a targeted way by considering the specific needs of different teams and addressing them over a period of time. This period of time allows for more changes to work habits as well as “just having fun”.
Of course, another benefit of virtual away days, is the lower cost. No hotel fees, no travel time.
Problems with virtual away days
There are challenges you might experience when running a virtual/remote away day, as opposed to face-to-face.
- Lack of familiarity: Many employees are not used to significant amounts of remote working and find that challenging. Asking them to “have fun” (how many awaydays are perceived) remotely can generate additional cynicism. More advance work is needed to “sell in” the concept to the team.
- Technological issues (broadband, PCs/ cameras) may affect some people’s ability to “join in”. Advance planning of who has what equipment and knowledge of how they can access the session (using phone, tablet or computer) is important.
- Communication styles: The difference in communication styles, especially between introvert and extrovert, can lead to introverts not fully participating (or being perceived as not). Virtual sessions can make this worse as it’s harder to judge people’s responses. In addition, it can be harder to get introverts to be heard (or speak) in a virtual meeting. These issues may hamper the team’s ability to meet the objectives of the away day. Introverts are more comfortable with remote sessions when they’re well-structured and find them harder if the session is poorly structured.
- More tiring: Virtual sessions are also known to be more tiring that face to face sessions. One reason for this is the amount of additional concentration required to capture body language, vocal tone, what’s said and what’s not said. Shorter sessions, with clear structure, several breaks and changes of pace/ presentation methods.
Virtual awayday ideas
If you’re looking for virtual team day ideas, there are more available here , but to make a virtual away day work, don’t forget to tackle the issues first.
Hybrid team away days
What about combining both virtual and physical away days? No only do both introverts, extroverts and everybody in between benefit; but the impact lasts longer too. Run the first session as a typical physical away day (now post Covid we can); then support it over the next few weeks with virtual sessions. That’s follow up to ensure things happen, extra buy in and time for the team to really work together.
If you are struggling to get more from your team, and want them to think more for themselves, click here to book a 15 minute slot in my diary and let’s discuss some ideas.
- Ideas for virtual team events, so you can run your own
- The team away-day: Waste of time, or critical performance improver?
- Why are remote team meetings so tiring?
Or listen to:
An interview with Helene Jewell of the International Association of Facilitators on how to improve your meetings.