Written by Kelsey Bishop August 16, 2022(edited on March 07, 2023)
Candor's Offsite Playbook For Founders
Our goal is to assist you to deliver a killer offsite that your team will talk about for years to come! If you are reading this- congrats! You are a founder who obviously cares about their culture. Kudos to you, you’re in the right place!
We have prepared a toolkit exactly for founders like you…
What’s in this playbook?
Our guiding principles for creating a killer offsite environment
The common pitfalls you want to avoid
A high-level sample agenda
Running a team-building session that your team enjoys
Candor is the best way for remote teams to really get to know each other. Candor makes it easy to create a profile of how you work best- including your ‘superpowers’, areas you hope to grow in, and more importantly- how you show up at work. We, as a team, are eager to help you strengthen your teammate relationships and are big believers in the power of offsites! This playbook we created for you is very self-serve, so go ahead and dig in!
The Guiding Principles for Offsites
1. Everybody Under One Roof
It is important for everybody to stay in the same place, under the same roof. We tend to search for quirky, large Airbnbs where everybody has a private room and spaces for working (together and alone). It is important to have a unique space that excites your team.
2. Eat Meals Together
Schedule meals with your team. We tend to work during the day and find it most convenient to order food for lunch while your team works together. Always schedule evening dinners, it gives your team something to look forward to, and it is always beneficial to share a meal and bond with your team around a table eating delicious food!
3. Play Together
Try to plan at least one fun activity during the week. Airbnb experiences tend to be pretty easy- throw a few options in Slack and book the one that receives the most attention. For example, our team has done boat tours, tile painting, and cooking classes together.
4. Adventure Together
Try hopping on electric scooters and ride to a restaurant or go on a hike together! Adventuring together is a great way to bond with your team and make memories. There are an ample amount of ways you could spice up your offsite and go on a fun adventure together depending on the location of your offsite.
The Common Pitfalls You Want to Avoid
Creating an efficient offsite for your team can be overwhelming. Here are common pitfalls to avoid:
1. Too Much Structured Meeting Time
Your team’s eyes will absolutely glaze over after day two if you planned every minute of your offsite. Give people enough time to co-work, check email, and do their thing. Too much structured time makes your offsite become way less exciting and drains your team out, when they should be energized and able to create memories with their team members.
2. Only Partial Team Attendance
Offsites should not be optional unless there’s an extenuating circumstance. Particularly for team-building exercises, you need to have the entire team present. It can cause a break in relationships between team members if one person doesn’t come. It tends to be awkward if one person doesn’t show and you return back from the offsite with shared experiences and takeaways that others were not brought into.
3. Bad WiFi Connection
If you are looking for an Airbnb in particular, make sure to reach out to the host and check the wifi speed and the number of devices that can use the wifi at once. Obviously, work will be done at an offsite and it can be a pain when you don’t check the wifi situation.
4. Non-Walkable Location
You want to give your teammates freedom to go out. Whether it is for a run, a coffee, or simply just to get some fresh air. It is easier for your teammates to do their own thing if the Airbnb is in a central and walkable location. You should not reserve an Airbnb that is in an inconvenient location, ultimately discouraging teammates from enjoying their free time.
5-Day Sample Agenda
Modify this sample agenda as you may see fit! The most important thing is to plan time to collaborate, reflect, and have fun. Do your best to not over plan- we promise the magic moments will happen serendipitously.
1. Day One
9am-5pm: Co-work at Airbnb (Order lunch in for everybody and take a break mid-day)
7pm: Team welcome dinner
2. Day Two
9am-12pm: Co-work at Airbnb
12pm-1pm: Team Lunch
1pm-2pm: Last quarter look back- what did we learn? How do we feel about last quarter? What are areas that could use improvement?
3. Day Three
9am-12pm: Co-work at Airbnb
12pm-1pm: Team Lunch
1pm-4pm: Team building exercise (This can be one of the most challenging sessions to get right! More on how to structure it below)
7pm: Team dinner
4. Day Four
9am-4pm: Co-work at Airbnb
5pm: Fun team activity! Taco tour, cooking class, or any other experience that the group is excited about.
8pm: Team Dinner
5. Day Five
9am-12pm: Co-Work at Airbnb
12pm-1pm: Team Lunch
1pm-3pm: Team jam session. Any topics that are top of mind that could use a team jam? Bring your team into a session and use the time to jam on product, growth, or culture questions.
7pm: Team Dinner
Crushing Your Team-Building Activity
What you’ll need:
All teammates should compare their Candor profile before the offsite (sign up here)
2.5 hour am agenda slot during your offsite with the whole team present
-Ideal company size:
Physical space for teams to breakout, a throwable microphone for facilitation, sticky notes, sharpies, and a flip chart per breakout group
Step 1: Your Team Creates Candor Profiles
Your team completes their Candor profiles two weeks prior to the offsite and shares them in a new slack/discord chanel labeled #Candor. Sign up for profiles here. Encourage your team to reach others Candor profile before the offsite.
Step 2: Print Out Facilitation Cards
Print this set of physical cards below for your team-building activities ahead of your offsite. You need 1 x set per team breakout group (which is ideally around seven people per group).
Step 3: Host Your Team-Building Session
At the offsite, you’ll have 2 sessions (about 2.5 hours worth of team building) that leverage everybody’s Candor profiles to help build a shared understanding, empathy, and trust. Here is how to structure that 2.5 hours:
Candor Profile Refresh (15 minutes)
Ahead of the team building sessions, we recommend giving people some time to have a snack, put some music on and refresh on their teammates’ Candor profiles.
Teamwork Styles Sharing Session (90 minutes)
In teams, your company will form breakout groups to discover more about how everyone does their best work. We recommend that each breakout group is no larger than nine people (ideal size is seven).
We provide a set of card prompts to help you have meaningful conversations and recommend using flipcharts to record insights as well as a timer to keep the momentum going.
Individual Shares (30 minutes)
Share one thing that people might not know about you before reading your Candor profile.
What gives you energy at work? What gets you excited? What is the thing that gets you out of bed in the morning? What has to be true for you to have a great work day?
What drains your energy while at work? What are things that tend to ruin your day/mood?
Share one thing that you learned about a teammate reading their Candor profile.
Group Campfires (30 minutes)
Where do you think that your work styles as a team differ? Where do they overlap? What should be top of mind given that?
When did you as a team do your best work together? Why was that the case? What went right to make the experience a good one?
When have you been the happiest on this team? What was the situation and why did it work for you?
When was a time the team didn’t do our best work together? What was the situation and why do you think it did not work well?
Debrief (10 minutes per breakout group)
For bigger teams (>10) where you have multiple breakout groups pass the mic around and hear a couple of learnings/insights from each group. You can ask things like:
“What surprised your group?”
“What did you learn?”
Team Charter Session (45 minutes)
In teams, you will leverage the learnings from the previous sessions to build out a set of commitments to one another.
There are lots of different templates you can use for team charters (we’ve listed a few in the resources section below). Our favorite is super simple:
Spend 30 minutes ideating using the following two prompts:
“How can we work more effectively together?”
“What should we start/stop/continue?”
Spend 15 minutes distilling ideas into commitments:
“What new commitments can we make to one another to help make us the best team we can be?”
* Bonus: This is a good time to make one final agreement before signatures: “What happens if we break these commitments?” *
End the session with everyone on the team signing the charter.
Pssttt! This is a great time for a team photo! A great addition for your shiny new culture deck. (Examples of awesome culture decks here)
Want Insights And a Roadmap on How to Develop Your Culture?
After your offsite, reach out to the Candor team! We can provide you with:
1. An insights report on your team’s culture including:
-Core values perceived versus actuals
-How do your different role groups and teams engage with personal growth?
2. Recommended activities to further enhance and embed the culture you want
Book A Call
We’d love to get to know your team and help you make the next offsite a success - feel free to grab time below on our calendar if you want to ask questions about this playbook or running an offsite - we’re happy to walk you through it, please book a call with our team here.