Posted on March 31, 2017
Burnout is a real thing in the Silicon Valley. Competition is high, workdays are unfathomably long, and staring at a computer screen all day can be exhausting. You know this, and your employees know this, but the busy, fast-paced nature of the tech industry seldom gives employees the opportunity to take time away from the office to recharge. Humans are not like computers—being plugged in day in and day out can actually drain our energy.
So how can you shake up your work environment and encourage your employees to reconnect and recharge without dramatically disrupting the daily workflow? Planning an off-site day meeting in a peaceful, relaxing environment that is as different from your office as possible could be the answer. And if you really want a unique experience, leave the computers at work. Here are some ideas for planning the perfect unplugged, off-site day meeting for your team.
Go Old School
In Silicon Valley, computers are everything. Technology is everything. The thought of going a day without it can be really scary. But it could be just what your team needs. Not bringing your laptops to the meeting doesn’t mean you won’t be productive, but rather it may inspire it. You may be surprised to see that the absence of technology opens up a different kind of creative, innovative space than you have in the office.
Rather than smartphones and computers, try using paper, whiteboards, and sticky notes as a way to keep track of information in your meetings. Doing so will not only engage different parts of your brain, it will also give your team a much-needed break for their eyes. Sometimes taking a break from our daily habits and routines and doing things differently is all we need to gain clarity on a problem or see an opportunity from a new perspective.
Disconnect to Connect
Our office culture no longer centers around the watercooler and the breakroom. Platforms like Slack, Google Hangouts, Zoom, and email are where we communicate with our colleagues—even if they are only five feet away. This can make it harder to feel connected to a place of work and the people we work with. And not feeling connected can lead to higher job dissatisfaction and ultimately higher turnover.
Communicating face-to-face is great for establishing and strengthening team bonds. Not having technology to fall back on means that everyone will have to make real conversation. Now, this may not come naturally at first, so coming up with a few icebreakers or activities that encourage people to use their voices, make eye contact, and ask questions about one another may be a good idea. Even simply having a round-table discussion where you arrange your chairs in a circle to face one another in a meeting can be extremely effective. It’s difficult to decipher tone in an email (even if you use a ton of emojis) or when the connection in a video chat is choppy. So plan to have important conversations in person on the day of the meeting and observe the authentic flow of communication.
Let’s be honest. If you’re lucky, you eat lunch in front of your computer screen every day while you finish up a pressing project, check your email, or partake in a conference call. Even if you do take a break, you are most often eating solo while you scroll on your phone.
Sharing a meal with others is an intimate experience that can help create and strengthen bonds in your team. Book at least a solid hour to enjoy a delicious meal, and consider eating outside, if possible. This should be a time of total relaxation. Connecting over something other than work, like food, while breathing in fresh California air can help create a more intimate corporate culture once you get back to the office. And who knows, some team members may be inspired to have lunch outside together a couple times a week moving forward.
Sitting at a computer all day gets tiring. And while standing desks are great, there is just no replacing good old physical activity. Moving the body can sharpen the mind, making one more alert, attentive, and focused.
With that in mind, choosing a meeting location that allows your team to get in some movement outdoors can make the day more fun and more productive. Plan on scheduling an organized activity mid-afternoon (a time when most people experience mental and physical fatigue), and get outside. Team sports like basketball, volleyball or soccer can be great to encourage camaraderie, get the blood pumping, and blow off some steam. Hiking would also be a great option if your team could especially use some stress-reduction. Being surrounded by California redwoods, fresh air, and beautiful views does wonders for the nervous system, offering your team a great chance to recharge.
What a Difference a Day Makes
Never underestimate the shift that can take place in a single day. No, things likely won’t get any less busy or stressful when you get back to the office, but giving your team a break from the daily challenges of working in Silicon Valley with an off-site meeting can be invaluable. Ditching your computers, writing with a pen and paper, communicating face-to-face, enjoying a meal together, and getting outside for some fresh air and movement can help in preventing burnout. Sometimes, all it takes is unplugging for a day before you can power up again.
Only a 45-minute drive from Silicon Valley, Kennolyn offers fully equipped meeting rooms, delicious meals, and fun outdoor activities for you and your team. If you are interested in hearing more about our beautiful, immersive venue for your next corporate day meeting, get in touch.