Who needs offsite workshops and retreats?
Any group of managers, employees, a work team or governing board members who want fresh thinking, unencumbered problem solving and focused energy free from the daily demands of the work place benefit from off site work. Research show conclusively that off site work is more productive and creative than meetings held at the work site. People tend to think more "outside of the box" when their daily routine is changed. They are more open to the future and to positive possibilities when they are not immediately reminded of their immediate problems and the work place itself. People feel this is different! This is a special time and they are special people and as such are more open to reaching deep inside to call on their greatest personal potential. They are more inclined to truthfully examine their contribution to the way things are rather than quickly fall into stereotypes, accept the "common wisdom" or blame others.
How far away from the work site does a workshop need to be?
Not far. Just change the environment and make it as appealing as possible. Naturally, there is something significant in itself in going to the mountains or seashore. We have conducted off-site in Church Gyms, at our Time Share at Dana Point and Lake Tahoe, our Yacht Club in San Diego or other Marinas, at College Campuses, at Seminaries and Religious Retreat Centers, at nearby hotels, at private Dinner Clubs, in an Elks Building, in a walled off section of a restaurant, at Asilomar and even at the mud baths in Calistoga. Frequently members of the group have a special arrangement with a Country Club, Sporting Club or Service Organization for low cost and attractive facilities.
Is it all work?
Yes and no. Some teams and groups want to play golf or have some "relaxing" time when they do an offsite retreat. This is less so when it is a workshop.
It turns out the "non-work" time is very valuable since it helps members bond and work through edgy relationship issues. It all adds to the notion that "we are important" and may be as valuable as the actual content work of the retreat or workshop.
We can organize team building events around the unique interests of the group that complement the workshop or retreat. For example we offer golf-based and sea-based team building. One client just asked us to observe and report on the way the team competed on the golf course and compare that to the way they do their work together.
How much time is needed?
Unlike team building that should go two to three days, the workshop or retreat can be of any length depending on outcomes desired. There should be enough time to have a couple of meals together since this can be a special relationship building time. Naturally, an overnight produces a much better result since people can not just walk away from the day's work and fall back into their daily routines. Considerable learning and change takes place between 5:00 p.m. and the next morning, especially if there is an evening work session.
What do the facilitators do?
We work with you to plan and set up the agenda for event. If required, we interview the participants to determine what are their burning issues, fears or problems. We attempt to assure all the participants that they will be safe and that this will be a productive use of their time.
We work with the offsite facility people in setting up the rooms and other arrangements. Usually the client handles all food and logistic matters, but we can assist.
At the event we serve as facilitators whose primary responsibility is to assure the objectives of the event are clear and the parties stay focused while causing as much of as a level playing field as possible.
There is usually a "ice breaking" activity, some work on how the group is inclined to work together vs. how they may want to work together, and some assistance when the group gets stuck.
The facilitators teach new group dynamic and team skills at the just right (teachable) moment.