The CEO was on the right track when he scheduled quarterly half-day off-sites.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the fast-growing company was all in-person at company headquarters, with just a couple of exceptions who live several hours away.

Like so many other businesses, the shut-down forced them to go remote, and now the CEO is determined to keep it that way.

The problem is, the personal connection just isn’t there when they’re on Zoom all the time.

Some employees do better with a remote work environment than others, but overall, it’s hard to develop the closeness that used to come more naturally when everyone was passing each other in the hallway and chatting in the kitchen.

Hence the quarterly, in-person off-sites.

It was a good start, but I knew there was a lot more potential here that wasn’t being tapped.

What I loved about what the CEO was doing with the quarterly off-sites is that he was acknowledging the power of play and fun as a bonding tool.

And, as I told him, he could actually do more to fully exploit the strategic potential of play.

“Strategic potential of play?”

That’s right. Let me explain.

Play as Recess vs. Play as Strategy

First off, the CEO was bringing in play purely as recess.

Now, recess is important. I’ll be the last person to pooh-pooh the importance of creative breaks!

But the CEO was overlooking the opportunity to use play as a methodology for solving real business challenges.

This is my specialty — the best off-sites have some of each: activities that build skills and address challenges (while also generating laughs and creating connection), peppered with activities that are purely to foster connection and spark delight.

(Hint: “team building” is actually an outcome of all of the play-based work that I do with organizations.)

Overall Strategy: Continuity

Second, the CEO was also missing the opportunity to build continuity with and between the in-person sessions.

Every in-person session was delivered by someone new, which offered variety, but there was no opportunity for a consultant to get to know the organization, and help them solve challenges and grow over the long term.

Then there’s the issue of what happens after everyone goes home from the high of being together.

For a company still getting its “remote legs,” building the scaffolding for a remote culture can be hard. It’s helpful to have a strategist in your corner.

And that’s exactly what I proposed:

  • Regular in-person off-sites, to promote bonding, develop organizational loyalty, and address current issues (with plenty of belly laughs)
  • Strategic advising to help develop additional connection opportunities in between the off-sites, and ways to give their culture a boost

There may be digital and in-person opportunities for fostering and deepening connection (and this is super-fun to explore, because what grows here will depend on the people there, and what sparks delight for them. There will be lots of brainstorming and experimenting!)

Rather than disparate, unrelated events once a quarter, I offered the CEO the opportunity to work with someone who will get to know the organization, and use those fun off-sites not just as recesses, but as an opportunity to grow and develop as a team and an organization, as part of a larger connection strategy.

That’s the power of using play strategically.

I love using play to help people-first teams and organizations blast through creative roadblocks and build Cultures of Creativity. If you or your team could use help increasing your impact, and getting there faster and more joyfully…

click here to reach me via my contact form and my assistant, Trish, will help schedule a time for us to have a chat, so I can learn more about you/your team.

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