Team.Building.NYC.Offsite.jpgTeam Building NYC Offsite

It’s a familiar story. You’ve been tasked with producing an employee team building activity in NYC (or anywhere, really), and for whatever reason, you can’t do it onsite. Perhaps your group has grown so much that holding the event in the office is no longer feasible; maybe it’s just time for a change, and “the boss” is requesting that the event be moved to a different space.

Regardless of the reason, you – the planner – now have a problem.

Where to begin with this one?

For many reasons, holding a team building event onsite is SO much easier than doing it elsewhere. For one thing, you don’t have to…well, LEAVE. Folks can just mosey on over from one part of the building to another, and that’s all there is to it. Besides reserving the space internally, and maybe the catering as well, you don’t need to do much by way of securing the venue. If you’ve got all of the AV, accessories and properties needed to run the event – microphones, PowerPoint setup, etc. – you also needn’t worry about having to bring that stuff in.

Because events held onsite are so much easier to plan and attend, it’s way less stressful on you, the organizer. It’s also less of a pain for your invitees, who don’t have to block out travel time, don winter gear and brave the elements, and endure countless other hassles and aggravations to participate in office group bonding activities. New York City in particular is no fun, as I know from so many years living and working there; the snow, the humidity, the subway, the crowds…who needs it!

Let’s be honest, onsite team building activities in NYC and pretty much everywhere else is piece of cake! But then again, seeing how we’re being honest…

That multipurpose room isn’t really all that exciting, is it…

And we can’t be too loud, otherwise we’ll bother folks who are still trying to work…

And we’ve got all these visiting staffers from other regional offices in town with nowhere to put them…

And we can’t pack everybody into the space comfortably as it is…

Suddenly, onsite isn’t looking like such a great option after all.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge advocate of keeping things onsite, especially if budget, timing and weather are a factor (which you can read more about here). But when push comes to shove, I think you and I both agree that people would rather have offsite team building events.

In addition to the aforementioned concerns when keeping things in the office, there’s just something disarming and relaxing about being in a new environment. People loosen up, let their hair down, and I’d argue become more like themselves than when they are at the workplace. This relaxation absolutely helps people come out of their shells a bit; not only is being in a new environment exciting, but simply by changing the scenery you can remove the usual office politics and power struggles – even if only for a brief moment.

Because it is precisely at THAT moment when effective corporate team building ideas have the most impact.

With that said, here are 6 proven tips to help you book the most successful and impactful offsite group bonding activities in New York City, or ANYWHERE!

1. Set a Budget

This is unavoidable. In fact, budgetary concerns are probably the reason why you’ve not done more offsite employee bonding and engagement events in the first place. However, if you do decide that yes, you will be bringing the group to an outside venue for this program, set a budget. This will help you understand in crystal clear terms what’s feasible, as well as what’s not. You may be surprised to find out that when done in a smart and creative way, bringing the team offsite actually isn’t as budget-busting as you feared it would be!

2. Find a Special Venue

You’re already taking the time to secure an offsite venue and bring your colleagues there for your program, so why not make sure it’s a memorable place? If it’s just another ho-hum spot, you may as well have kept everybody where they were. Choose a venue which offers something truly unique, be it a quirky space, fun menu, amenities, or even a view. The more special the place, the more effective your outing will be.

3. Find a Venue That’s Nearby

Besides the additional expense, attrition is probably the biggest drawback to holding your event offsite. There’s no need to be overly ambitious here. Especially in NYC, there can be a temptation to bring the group across town, or event to another borough. But that’s really not necessary; you don’t want to lose people who might otherwise have joined you, if only the venue were closer to the office.

4. Book Your Event Early in the Week

This is one of my favorite “hacks.” Having earned my NYC team building stripes by hosting bar trivia nights for about 6-7 years in Manhattan and Brooklyn, I’ve gotten to know this side of the business rather intimately. Here’s a little secret: many bars, restaurants and other spaces have private rooms for functions just like the one you’re planning, that while jammed packed later in the week and on weekends, are sitting empty earlier in the week. If you approach a venue and tell the you want to bring a group on a Monday or Tuesday – be it 100, 50, or even 15 people – I guarantee they will bend over backwards to make it worth your while, and offer you the best deal they can.

5. Book During an “Off” Time

Another fun hack: be selective when you plan your event. I mean this both from a calendar standpoint, as well as a clock standpoint. Like any other industry, the venue and hospitality world goes through busy and slow seasons. If you want your event to be in December, you’re going to find yourself competing for venue space with company holiday parties; however, August is typically a very slow month, so why not do it then? Time of day is also a factor here. You may find that while the venue charges a premium for evening events (or is booked solid during those high-demand after work hours), you may find a great deal for a mid-day or morning activity.  

6. Feed Your Attendees

You’re already asking your colleagues to give up a portion of their day to participate in your activity, and are now asking them to travel to a new location to boot. Whether it’s a full-day seminar, a half-day program or even just a 1-hour team activity, you can make the experience that much more effective and enjoyable simply by providing your folks with food. Yes, this is an additional expense, and will “eat” into your allotted time, however I assure you people will be grateful for feeding them.

For further reading on planning team building offsites, NYC or elsewhere, visit https://hbr.org/2015/06/how-to-plan-a-team-offsite-that-actually-works