Back to basics... Away days

Our back to basics series brings you top tips from industry experts on the bread and butter areas of HR

Why does it matter?

Away days range from adventurous days out such as Go Ape to brainstorming sessions. They are important team-building events as they provide a great opportunity for employees to get to know each other outside of the workplace in a way that is not restricted by organisational hierarchy. They are a good way to encourage and improve communication within teams and strengthen relationships.

As well as the team-building benefits, away days also encourage creativity and innovation. They allow teams to think outside the box and be creative in a different way from their day job.

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By removing employees from their day-to-day tasks such events can help to clear their heads and provide opportunities for blue-sky thinking, so they return to work re-energised and motivated.

The types of activities popular in away days also help to develop employee skills, such as problem-solving, and give managers insight into the strengths of people that they might not normally see. Staff really enjoy them too.


Encourage participation from all employees. Using technology like apps that facilitate voting and quizzes during activities can be a great way to encourage all employees to get involved.

It’s always important to try different things for every away day that is arranged – there is no cap on creativity.

Plan for the day and share the plans with the team so they know what to expect. But do also keep some surprises for the day. Make sure there is some structure but also ensure there is an aspect of informality so employees feel comfortable enough to think outside of their day jobs.

It’s important to keep to the clock – don’t get so involved in tasks that you run out of time to cover everything on the agenda.

Capture all of the work and ideas that come out. Use a laptop or flipchart for people to take notes on during activities to ensure nothing is lost.

Assign someone to type up the notes and share to the team post event with actions to make sure you keep the momentum going.

Gather feedback from the day and incorporate it into future events. It’s great to summarise how everyone is feeling at the end of the day and gather ideas for what employees want at the next away day.


Make it all about work. Leave job titles in the office. It is important for colleagues to develop new relationships, socialise and meet new people within the company.

It is not always about being with the same people you work with on a daily basis, it’s also a great way to find out hidden talents among your peers.

Insist that it has to be a full day. Be creative with the time you have so that you can add a degree of flexibility and still deliver great results.

Have the event in your usual environment. Step outside of the office and plan a day off site. It’s important that employees are taken away from their day-to-day environment so that they are not distracted by work tasks and can mentally clear their minds. This also encourages creativity.

Forget to have fun. Away days should be about all employees enjoying themselves and working well as teams, so make sure there are tasks and activities that encourage entertainment and participation. The whole day shouldn’t be about work.

Dan Mountain is CEO of Smartbox Group UK, and Red Letter Days

This piece appears in the March 2020 print issue. Subscribe today to have all our latest articles delivered right to your desk