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The Off-Site Is the New Return to the Office

This article is by Chip Cutter.

Remember the off-site meeting? For some companies, those traditional company gatherings at hotels, spas and other exotic locations are pointing the way to a new, innovative model for getting employees back to working in person.

Nearly two years after the pandemic sent many white-collar professionals home, bosses are eager to reconvene employees, hoping that in-person interactions will spark new ideas and help to lessen feelings of isolation and Zoom fatigue as Covid-19 drags on. The challenge is figuring out where and how to gather. Some companies ditched offices in recent months, or loosened policies to allow staffers to move away from company locations.

That has many executives rethinking the notion of the annual corporate gathering. For years, off-sites were largely a way to get entire companies or teams together to mark milestones such as a sales kickoff, an end-of-year celebration or a product-strategy summit. But as more companies embrace hybrid work models and fully remote teams, increasingly the concept of the off-site—gathering employees periodically—is looking like a way to strengthen company culture and foster connections among colleagues.

The fear of losing such connections and the benefits that in-person work can bring is spurring companies to look at nontraditional ways to make this happen. In the nascent stages of using off-sites as the new on-site, some companies are considering short gatherings in which staffers meet at hotels, restaurants, Airbnb mansions—or even in the office—collaborating on work while also reconnecting socially. They are feeling out how often to meet: Many executives say it may be enough for remote employees to now come together in person once a month, and quarterly in the future.


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