Meetings can often be viewed as boring, time-wasting events, held for the sake of it in stuffy strip lit rooms. But, whether you love or loathe them, meetings are here to stay. If you’re organising a meeting this year settling for a traditional format just won’t cut it.
Sitting slumped around a table being talked at for 2 hours has proven to be an ineffective way of motivating a team and inspiring exciting ideas. Attendees need to be stimulated and given real insights and constructive challenge. According to Atlassian, the average office worker spends over 31 hours each month in unproductive meetings. You and your team need to know that you’re actually getting value from a meeting, otherwise, it will be a waste of you and your team's time and energy.
Having meetings in the same location can make them seem boring and leave people questioning their worth. This means that whenever a meeting needs to be held, employees may not take it seriously. Having meetings outside the office allows workers to enjoy a change of pace and environment while also being able to have a fresh outlook on the topics and discussions.
Here's 5 great reasons why you should be hosting your next meeting offsite.
1. In a world dominated by technology, it can almost feel impossible to take your eyes off a screen of some kind. When the brain is fed a constant stream of stimulating information, it limits the creative drive. Hold your meeting away from the distractions and the seductive lure of a plethora of devices to restore your teams focus and concentration.
Hubspot reports that 28% of the average office workers day is spent focused on unnecessary distractions and can eat up an average of two hours a day per person. Holding your meeting in a new environment away from your office and it’s tech temptations will give your team a productivity boost and potentially reduce the time needed for each meeting.
2. Taking your team offsite and outside can offer them a well-deserved break from the norm. You’ve heard the well-known proverb ‘a change is as good as a rest ‘ and this has been proven to hold true. Simply moving outside the day to day office environment can inspire and increase creative thinking. The venue you choose should be functional and inspiring.
Brain science has shown that learning in a new and unexpected environment triggers the release of dopamine to the hippocampus, the part of the brain that creates memories. Hosting your meeting in an unusual new location will inspire and engage your team, particularly if the venue compliments the meeting’s topic, for example discussing your businesses sustainability in the setting of Twycross Zoo itself at the forefront of conservation, education and research.
3. Creative discussion doesn’t have to be conducted around a table in front of a powerpoint presentation. Choosing a venue off-site can open up a range of activities that could be incorporated into the meeting format or during break sessions.
Find out what your team likes doing? What motivates them? Adding five to ten minutes of physical activity throughout your meetings can keep your audience engaged, as well as injecting some energy into the room (especially if you add music!). Excessive sitting slows the metabolism – which affects our ability to regulate blood sugar and blood pressure, and metabolise fat – and may cause weaker muscles and bones. "Essentially, the body is 'shutting down' while sitting and there is little muscle activity," says Professor Biddle. Introduce a new activity which complements the topic of discussion ensures that attendees are really getting something out of attending.
Author and business innovator Nilofer Merchant told TED talks that you could go as far as turning meetings into walking meetings. Not only is walking good exercise, but it may also increase morale, boost productivity and enhance creativity. You can also offer meeting goers some active options for their scheduled or free time such as biking, nature walks and hiking.
4. Harnessing the power of nature can really inspire creative thought. This doesn't mean that you need to be holding meetings in a forest or atop a mountain range, venues that have elements such as large windows that stream in lots of natural light or a venue that overlooks a green space can make a huge difference. A 2008 study at the University of Michigan showed students that were shown a picture of nature performed better on tests, of attention and working memory than those who were shown city scenes.
Humans are supposed to be getting direct sunlight every day. During the dark winter months, this can be very difficult. Vitamin D gives you energy and endorphins. Research has shown that vitamin D might also play an important role in regulating mood and warding off depression, so an outdoor venue (with some sort of shelter to protect against the unpredictable UK weather of course) is the perfect place to hold a productive meeting.
5. Choosing to hold your meeting offsite is the perfect opportunity to introduce an alternative structure to the day, invite other groups to your meeting and give team members an opportunity to interact with each other in a different way. Holding a meeting away from the office is a good way to make sure there's enough room for everyone in attendance and a more open and relaxed environment can help usual non-speakers speak up. Everyone tends to act a little looser outside the office and feel freer to express ideas and opinions.
Begin with a unique welcome reception that makes your team feel like they’ve truly arrived, then incorporate fun perks into team-building activities. Creative activities stimulate the right brain, the hemisphere that is often underactive in our information-overloaded world. Flexing our creative muscle helps build problem-solving skills.