When I think of when I am most productive in any given month – it’s the hours I spend on the bus heading to see my Boston clients. I have a two + hour commute each way. I kill it every time. I get more done in those five hours a month than I get done two full days in my office. Why? In my office it is easy to get distracted. The phone rings, the FedEx driver comes, I get hungry, I get antsy. On the bus I have a routine. I get there early and sit in the front row. Before the bus even leaves Portland I’m working. I don’t watch the movie or talk to others – I work. I write. I study. I create.
Other times when I’m most creative or productive are when I go away for strategic planning retreats, work at the local coffee shop or when I am way on business. There’s a theme – I am most creative and productive when I am outside my normal comfortable environment. Now that’s not to say I don’t get great work done in my office – I do. But getting outside my routine helps me to think more clearly, see things I don’t normally see. I also cannot do the laundry or sit by the pool when I am off-site.
I challenge my clients to get off-site more often. To hold meetings off-site, to do strategic planning somewhere cool because it works.
Here are 5 reasons to hold meetings off-site:
- You remove many of the distractions. I have tried to do strategic planning meetings at client’s offices. It does not work. People are more distracted and not as engaged. On bathroom breaks they go back to their office, tend to all sit in the same spots as they do for every other meeting. ON the flip side when I get teams away from their own environment they are more relaxed, the ‘way we’ve always done it’ applies less and more work gets done. Though cell phones make this much harder. I do recommend not allowing team members to have or use their phone during the off-site meeting – they will be more fully engaged.
- You and your team will be more relaxed. I had the pleasure or working with a team of lawyers in Northern Wisconsin at one of the most beautiful retreat centers I have ever been too. It was heaven. There was time to relax but the days were full of meetings – and very tense topics had to be discussed. I do not know this for sure but my guess is we could have never done the hard work we did if we had not been in such a relaxing environment. It was safe, away from the chaos and cell phones did not work.
- More work gets done. My husband and I went away to work ‘ON’ the business a few times a year. We had lots of fun – great dinners and went to beautiful places. We also got a ton of work done. We would save things like employee policies, procedural manuals, marketing material and other things that needed some brain power. We would plan for the future of the business and create. We wrote our business plan, our operating manual and much of our key messaging being away from it all. I don’t think we would have ever had the foundation in place and been able to grow the way we did if it weren’t for those weekends.
- People feel valued. Employees get so excited to be able to get out of the office. It helps morale. I recently did an off-site meeting for a company that doesn’t normally host events off-site. I got there early and noticed many of the employees were already in the parking lot. They did not come in until right before the meeting started but they were there early and showed up ready. Many commented on how good it was to be out of the office and that they were grateful the company was investing in them.
- It’s FUN! It is fun to get out of the office. We step out of our work self. People lighten up. Often people are more open off-site. So whether it is a strategic planning retreat, a business meeting or just a company team building event – get out of the office.