A Tip For Your Next Team Offsite in Thailand

Finally, Some Face-to-Face Interactions

This year, I’ve been working with a lot of tech companies. While many industries (hospitality and aviation especially) were devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic, tech companies thrived as more and more companies shifted their operations online and more people migrated their lives to the cloud (more so than before). Work From Home (WFH) quite suddenly became the norm.

I worked with a tech company this last July who told me that they had grown 300% between 2020 and 2022 in terms of number of employees. Great news for them of course. But, it presented a problem. Many of these new employees had only ever met their new colleagues through a screen. While they had certainly built some good relationships online, the senior leaders of these organisations felt (rightly so in my opinion) that some real, face-to-face interactions were necessary. Humans are social creatures after all.

This is why, when Thailand properly opened its borders on July 1st, I’ve been working with a lot of techies and software engineers.

Team offsites are a wonderful way to form new relationships and strengthen old relationships while spending a few days out of the office in an exotic location. Sure, there’ll be meeting and serious conversations during those few days but one of the biggest benefits of team offsites is relationship building.

A Tip For Organisers

So, I said I had a tip. Here it is.

Don’t try to include too much.

I had an enquiry recently where the organiser said “we might be able to find 30 minutes for team building”. Over 4 days in Phuket, they only had 30 minutes available for team building, maybe. The rest of the time was taken up by meetings, some more meetings, and one or two meetings. In the end, they couldn’t even find the 30 minutes so we were not able to work together.

I also recently worked with a company that had planned several days in Bangkok to align with the release of their new app. The week was not taken up with meetings but filled with tours, excursions and a team building session with me. The three days were like a military operation and delegates were ferried around Bangkok from one experience to another. When one thing ended, another began.

The feedback from delegates was always the same. They all wished they had a little more free time to do a bit of shopping, have a walk, have a nap, enjoy a massage, explore the city, or just chill by the pool for an hour or two.

One lady had come all the way from Turkey and it was her first time in Thailand and Asia. Unfortunately, she spent so much time in a van being transported through Bangkok traffic that she didn’t even have time to buy a souvenir or see one of the famous Thai temples she’d heard so much about. She could though talk at great length about the interior of a Toyota Commuter minivan.

I realise that when organising an offsite, team leaders want to maximise their time in their new location. After all, these things are expensive and hard to arrange. But, relationships are not built when people are utterly exhausted. Introverts especially require time to recharge in between team activities.

I also get that the meetings are important. It’s your only opportunity to get together and discuss important issues directly. This is crucial, I fully agree. This is why you spend many thousands of dollars on offsites – because you see the value of personal communication, idea sharing, and open environments in which participants can ask questions directly to senior leadership.

I’m not suggesting that you bring people all the way to Thailand and then just allow them to mope around the hotel all day and hide away in their rooms responding to emails. For sure, include the excursions, team dinners, crucial meetings, and a team building program. This is what it’s all about – shared experiences.

Just don’t forget about the power of downtime. Just a couple of hours here and there will be appreciated by everyone. Downtime will keep delegates fresh and fully enagaged. So, when you do have a three hour presentation on the financial implications of a new set of branded pencils for head office, people will be at their best.