• Has your staff meeting gotten stale?
  • Are you disconnected from the problem you are solving?
  • Do you need a breath of fresh air to breathe new life into your group? 

There are many reasons why it may be the right time to take your next staff meeting out of the conference room and into a new location.

Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom in the woods taking a conference call

Joining a work call from the woods

Here are a few examples of taking your staff meeting out of the building:

1) You need to go where they are

Whether it is the client you serve, the problem you are trying to address, or the target audience you are attempting to reach, if “they” gather somewhere near your office, it can energize your team to take the meeting to “them”. 

For example, I spoke with a woman who led a task force on accessibility for a regional transportation agency. The group was looking for innovative solutions to transport more people with disabilities across town. In particular, they were struggling with how to serve seniors with limited mobility.

Her group met once a month but never seemed to make progress.

They lacked urgency.

We discussed having the group co-host a meeting with a local seniors group at the senior’s next in-service. This would provide the transportation agency representatives with access to the people they serve. It would remind them about the urgency of this problem in the senior’s day-to-day lives and give them an opportunity to learn directly from the people that were experiencing the issue.

Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom facilitates a workshop outside on a patio in Wickenburg, Arizona on a sunny day. The group has a western theme.

Too often we keep meetings in the same room, on the same day, sitting in the same chairs, at the same time, under the same blinking fluorescent lights through the law of inertia. It takes a force to act upon this situation to move us into a new state and hopefully into a better result.

2) You need to breathe

After all that time under the fluorescent lights in the second-hand office chairs that don’t hold their height and sink until you feel like a child at the craft table… you just need a change of scenery. The group is tense. You need a reset. 

Sharing a meal together and spending time in nature are both tried-and-true ways to build camaraderie and help everyone in your group gain perspective. Having a picnic at a public park or coming together for a potluck at someone’s house can remind the group members of the basics of how we connect to one another and the larger world as humans.

3) You need inspiration

It’s hard to be inspired to generate new ideas when you are always in the same four walls. Inspiration often comes when you are experiencing something new. It is amazing how unrelated activities can give you an idea for your work project.

Host your meeting at an art gallery or a garden.

Give your staff a little time to explore the space on their own and reflect on a few questions or prompts individually; then bring everyone back together to go through your meeting agenda. Draw inspiration from the space to generate new ways of thinking about your project.

For example, if your group is planning a conference, you could ask everyone. What if we were planning a new section of this garden? What would we need to consider? After brainstorming that, you can ask, Is there anything that we can learn from landscape architects in planning our conference?

Is it time for you to take your next staff meeting out of the building? Don’t move your meeting just to “shake things up”. Be intentional. What type of change of scene could benefit your group and why?

If you are planning an all staff meeting or a retreat, you may also find this post helpful:

Designing a Custom Retreat for Your Organization