Startup Offsites Best Practices

With the rise of remote work and fully / partially remote startups, offsites are becoming an important way for companies to collaborate and build culture. With over 700 clients, we see a lot of startups putting together company-wide get togethers. Our founders have told us they like hosting offsites to:

  1. Build team cohesion: Offsites can provide an opportunity for team members to get to know each other better and build stronger relationships, which can be difficult to do when everyone is working remotely.
  2. Foster creativity: Offsites can provide a change of scenery and a break from the daily routine, which can help to stimulate creativity and encourage new ideas. This is especially great for product development and fast UX/feature iteration. 
  3. Facilitate strategic planning: Offsites can provide a dedicated space and time for the team to focus on long-term planning and strategy, which can be difficult to do when everyone is juggling the demands of their daily work.
  4. Boost morale: Offsites can be a fun and rewarding experience for team members, which can help to boost morale and increase job satisfaction.

At Kruze, we are fully remote and try to have offsites for the entire team every year. Of course, COVID messed that up, but last year’s get-together in Las Vegas was a ton of fun – and fulfilled the objectives I listed above. Additionally, we hosted a management team offsite in San Francisco later last year and used that (successfully) for strategic year-end planning

Where should you have your startup’s offsite?

There are many factors to consider when choosing a location for a startup offsite, including the size and needs of your team, the purpose of the offsite, and your budget. Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Accessibility: Consider how easy it is for your team to get to the location, both in terms of distance and transportation options.
  2. Accommodations: If you’ll be staying overnight, make sure there are nearby hotels or other lodging options that are suitable for your team.
  3. Amenities: Think about what your team will need during the offsite, including meeting spaces, recreation options, and food options.
  4. Cost: Determine your budget for the offsite and look for locations that fit within it.

Some popular options for startup offsites include retreat centers, conference centers, and hotels with meeting facilities. You might also consider a more unusual location, such as a ranch, a beach house, or a mountain cabin, depending on the needs of your team and the purpose of the offsite.

Popular locations that we’ve seen include locations near the CEO’s home (usually a major city like SF, NYC, etc), Las Vegas, Austin, ski areas, or golfing hot spots.

How much should you spend on your startup’s offsite?

As a leading accounting firm servicing startups, this is a question we often get asked! It’s generally a good idea to allocate a reasonable amount of money for an offsite, as it can be an important investment in the success and well-being of your team. However, it’s also important to be mindful of your overall budget and not spend more than you can afford.

If your startup isn’t spending money on rent, then company get-togethers are a place you’ll want to allocate some of that ‘savings’ – so our best founders include offsites in their annual budgets.

A top-down way to create the budget is to think of your spending on all of your offsites as a percentage of your company’s budget. If you would have spent 5% of your budget on rent, but because you are fully remote you are ‘saving’ that, you likely can consider spending a couple of percent of your overall budget on offsites.This still provides a reduction in overall expenses vs. having an office.

A bottom-up way to build an offsite budget is on a per-employee basis. To build a budget on a per-employee basis, you would start by estimating reasonable costs of each individual element of the offsite for each employee, such as transportation, accommodations, meals, and activities. You would then add up these costs for each employee to arrive at a total per-employee cost. Once you have the per-employee cost, you can multiply it by the number of employees to arrive at the total budget for the offsite.

This approach can be helpful because it allows you to see exactly how much each element of the offsite is costing, and it can help you make more informed decisions about how to allocate your budget. However, it can also be time-consuming and may require a detailed understanding of all the costs involved in the offsite.

Items to include in a bottom-up offsite budget

Here are some items that you might include in a bottom-up budget for a company-wide offsite:

  1. Transportation: This could include the cost of flights, rental cars, or other forms of transportation for each employee.
  2. Accommodations: This could include the cost of hotel rooms, vacation rentals, or other types of accommodations for each employee.
  3. Meals: This could include the cost of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and any other meals or snacks that will be provided during the offsite.
  4. Meeting space: If you will be using a conference center or other dedicated meeting space, you will need to budget for the cost of the space.
  5. Activities: This could include the cost of any activities or entertainment that you plan to provide, such as team building exercises, recreational activities, or guest speakers.
  6. Equipment: This could include the cost of any equipment or supplies that you will need for the offsite, such as projectors, whiteboards, or flipcharts.
  7. Miscellaneous: This could include any other miscellaneous expenses that may arise during the offsite, such as incidentals, gratuities, or unexpected costs.

It’s important to be as thorough as possible when building a bottom-up budget, so you can accurately plan for all the costs involved in the offsite. Be sure to also leave some room in your budget for unexpected expenses that may come up.