Once upon a time (or at least before the pandemic), the Away Day was at least an annual occurrence and sometimes more than that. A chance to connect with your colleagues who you didn’t see on a day-to-day basis, a chance to reflect on the successes of the previous quarter or year and an opportunity to plan.
Like everything else, Covid has changed all of that and we now find ourselves thinking wistfully of days in remote hotels listening to presentations and trying to eat finger food politely. Human connection aside, there was a real need for away days and they evolved to allow us the time and “white space” we need as a collective to celebrate our successes and prepare for the challenges ahead.
Can away days still happen in a virtual world?
At HPC, we still think so and over the past few months, we have helped a number of our clients structure days for their teams, functions and in one case, the entire organisation.
How do you do this? Here are three quick tips:
1. Reimagine your day
People are already on Zoom/Teams/Blue Jeans all day so asking them to join a session for 7 hours is not going to enthuse them. The old model was a break away from the norm so your new model of Away Day has to represent a similar break.
2. Consider what people value
People didn’t go to away days for the Custard Creams – they went to connect with their colleagues. Consider what people value most from their days and prioritise that in the design of your day.
3. Give people something to do
Staring passively at the screen for any longer than 5 minutes will energise nobody! Create opportunities for engagement and interaction throughout the design of your day.
Away Days remain important to teams and organisations but like everything else, they need to be reimagined if they are to stay relevant and valuable.
Kevin Hannigan is Head of Talent Consulting at HPC. He is a highly skilled consultant and facilitator with a wealth of experience in designing the systems and processes that support effective learning, measurement and talent development.
In our upcoming instalment to this series, HPC’s Head of Research Justin Kinnear explores what it takes to design Virtual Away Days.