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Organizing an offsite, the Fyle way!
See how we manage offsites in-house at Fyle, and why every offsite is a celebration like no other 🎉
Last November, 75 of our almost 100-member Fyle team went to Sakleshpur for a company offsite. We’ve done three such offsites in the last one and a half years, and it has been nothing short of a festival every single time.
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Why do offsites matter?
We’re a fully remote company, so naturally, the only way to meet face-to-face and interact with the entire team beyond Google Meet and Slack is through these offsites. This is where new teammates meet the oldies, folks who typically don't work in the same team build stronger relationships and share stories, and bonds are formed that go beyond work. (This is also where we get to see insane alcohol capacities, incredible dance moves, and everyone's unique talents - usually incidents that become embarrassing stories and Slack gifs.)
But the ultimate goal of every Fyle offsite is to have fun, celebrate the big (and small) wins, and appreciate each other.
The best part is that we organize our offsites in-house. A group of folks from different teams come together, led by our people team, and plan out every detail. I'm Sayonee, and I've been a part of these organizing committees from the beginning. And honestly, it's been a great ride. Being part of the behind-the-scenes, creating incredible experiences for everyone, and even the chaos, is so fulfilling. This blog will show you exactly how we plan a fun offsite!
How to organize an offsite?
Step 1: Identify the offsite organizing committee
Organizing an offsite is no easy task. Just think about what it takes to plan, coordinate and execute a trip for 75 people - from budgets to travel, stay, itinerary, operations, logistics, and communication. All this while ensuring it's effortless for them (at this point, our internal committee can start their own travel agency). The committee requires people that are passionate about crafting a memorable experience for everyone and take ownership as though they are part of our People Success team. It’s also good to have representation across different teams in the company.
Once we have a team, we get on a kickoff call, establish expectations, figure out responsibilities, discuss feedback from earlier offsites, and get started. The entire offsite planning is run like any other initiative, with an excessively-detailed Notion document, task breakups, assignments, due dates, and more. We also have regular sync-ups to track progress and discuss roadblocks.
Step 2: Decide the location and resort
We start by deciding where we're going. Each of us is responsible for a particular area. For example, I had to find all the possible resort options across Karnataka.
We finalize the property based on several factors:
Whether we want to go to the hills or the beach - we've tried to mix it up at Fyle (our first was at Goa, second at Coorg, and third at Sakleshpur!)
If the rooms are spacious enough - we've observed that people love spending time in their rooms, whether it is for afterparties or chill conversations.
If the resort has enough indoor and outdoor activities to keep people engaged.
How well they're rated and reviewed - if any negative reviews stand out, we raise it with the resort to know what action they’ve taken.
The resort significantly impacts everyone’s first impression of the trip, so choose wisely.
Step 3: Get RSVPs & start a dedicated offsite channel
Once we have a resort or at least vaguely know where we're headed, we need to get people's buy-ins to book the stay and travel. So we send out an RSVP form on Slack, inviting everyone in the company and collecting food preferences to plan meals better.
"But what if any important customer issues come up when everyone's away?" you ask. Usually, we have a plan to deal with critical queries, but Fyle organizes offsites on holiday weekends or off-peak days, so business isn't affected.
Before we’re bombarded on DMs by folks who can’t contain their excitement and want to know all the details, we create a separate Slack channel dedicated to any announcements or communication regarding the offsite.
We also circulate an ‘Offsite Code of Conduct’ that highlights all the do’s and don’ts. It’s imperative to set and define some ground rules since it’s a large group.
Step 4: Book travel, accommodation, and food en route
Next, we book the resort and travel based on the RSVPs. This is where most of the heavy lifting is done because conversations with the resort involve a lot of back-and-forth, emails, negotiations, and shared google sheets. We usually share details of room allocation, food preferences, itinerary, and any dependencies on the resort in advance so our folks have a pleasant arrival and relaxed stay.
We also book all the flights and overnight stay in Bangalore for folks traveling from other cities so that we can leave for the resort early in the morning. Needless to say, booking flights earlier is better, so the prices are more economical.
We even went as far as pre-booking breakfast and lunch at restaurants en route to stay on schedule. Since I was responsible for this, I had butterflies in my stomach until everyone had food in theirs. 😓
Step 5: Get people HYPED up
I’ve called this Step 5, but really, it starts right at the beginning. I remember countless committee calls where we racked our brains on how to constantly keep the enthu up. The dedicated meme-lords of our committee came to the rescue, putting out loads of videos, memes, and gifs, giving folks a peek into what's cooking.
Every offsite, we conduct a unique ticket-claiming activity: challenges folks have to complete to claim their tickets. I usually find this bit very rewarding since I can get away without doing much. 😈
And here's what happened 👇We didn't realize we opened a floodgate of meme-creating talent.
We also organized a Fyle Health Challenge, where folks had to complete 1,00,000 steps in under 20 days, and the results were mindblowing! More than 25 people completed the challenge like champions, and some were extremely creative. Of course, they were rewarded accordingly. 🎁
Step 6: Plan the Itinerary
I’ve written this section as a journal of what happened over two days instead of how to plan it. Hopefully, this gives you some inspiration!
After a six-hour bus journey, all everyone wanted to do was settle in and explore the place. And, of course, get to know other folks! Day 1 is meant to do precisely that so that we break the barriers of shyness and get comfortable with each other.
While some people went to nap, a group was off playing some intense cricket at a viewpoint (literally at the edge of a peak), some folks were testing their archery skills, and others (like me) were busy aimlessly wandering the place and talking to people.
We kick off every offsite with a founder's address, where Yash and Siva (you guessed it, our founders) talk to all of us about how we're doing as a company and where we're headed. Transparency and openness have always been a core part of Fyle’s culture, and that’s what these talks do.
Once the serious stuff was out of the way, we jumped into some icebreakers and games. Our newbies shared some of the hilarious pranks they had to put up with while joining since it's somewhat of a tradition in most teams.
The night ended with a beautiful bonfire talent show, and personally, this was the trip’s highlight! Everyone was gathered around the fire on a chilly night, listening to impressive performances ranging from songs to Shayari to guitar duets. (After a point, everyone joined in, and it became a screaming chorus of old songs).
The second day started with team games - a bit of competition to spice things up. Teams were pitted against each other and had to complete several challenges. My favorite was recreating an old TV ad (my group chose the famous ‘washing powder Nirma’ one).
We never want to overdo the scheduling, so the afternoons are usually left free for folks to spend the way they like.
The second night was Fyle’s award and glam night, where we celebrated people’s milestones at Fyle. Of course, these are followed by some fun (and emotional) speeches that have amazed us every time.
No celebration is complete without some drinks and dancing. We set up a bar with everyone’s choice of drinks (we get everyone’s preferences via a poll on Slack well in advance) and hired a DJ to spin some tunes for everyone to go wild on the dance floor. 💃 This is where we got to see the incredible dance moves I was talking about.
Step 7: Keep communication at its best, and execute!
From putting out detailed trip brochures to multiple web check-in reminders, to clear bus travel instructions, it's important to keep communication very clear with everyone and be on high alert. Remember, the offsite began the moment folks landed in Bangalore until they reached home.
Eventually, no matter how much you plan, even down to the minutest detail, there will always be surprises. Be prepared for everything!
Some crucial learnings
We have had tremendous learnings from every offsite so far. We make it a point to do detailed debriefs, note every insight, and be mindful of them while planning future offsites.
Always book flights as early as possible; otherwise, prices shoot up.
When talking to the resort or any vendor, address every detail and ensure you get a confirmation or acknowledgment from them.
We've found that luggage tags for bags are super helpful (it helps the resort handle luggage without any confusion).
Make sure you have an emergency first-aid kit ready as well. Better safe than sorry!
Give people enough time to sit back and relax. Cramming the trip with many activities might make it too overwhelming for folks.
Changing our physical setting, leaving the laptops aside, interacting with folks in person, and looking out over the scenic hills and coffee plantations helped change our perspective, made us refocus, and come back refreshed. This is precisely why we do offsites, and now you know our playbook too.
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