January 14, 2020

Our top 3 ideas for a successful team offsite

Jackie Leary

People & Operations Associate

If you haven’t already noticed, the Smartcar team loves its quarterly team offsites. Not just because they are a fun excuse to get out of the office, but because offsites give us the opportunity to get to know each other and to form bonds that we couldn’t possibly achieve while sitting at a desk.

When candidates ask me about our work culture, one thing I always mention is how inclusive and collaborative our company is. This could be for many reasons, but I like to think that our offsites play a big part in our team’s cohesion. There is no division between different departments or friend groups - everyone participates and contributes their part to our unique company spirit.

If you are looking to plan an offsite for your own team and need some inspiration, look no further. Below, you will find last year’s three most popular Smartcar offsites alongside some organizational tips. Also, if you are a candidate interested in joining our company, here’s a little glimpse of our fun, quirky, and collaborative culture:

1. Bubble soccer in the park

Have you ever heard of bubble soccer? No? Neither had we! The concept is simple: two teams put on giant, inflatable bubble suits and face off in a hilarious game of soccer. That is exactly what we did on a sunny Friday morning in July. It was just as comical as you can imagine. Have a look:

Credits: Silicon Valley Bubble Soccer

Tips: Be sure to schedule your bubble soccer experience on a day when it isn’t too hot. The bubble suits can get a little warm while running around. Also, Silicon Valley Bubble Soccer offers cornhole sets and Giant Jenga in addition to the bubble soccer equipment. These games were an enjoyable distraction for our team members whenever they wanted to take a break from the soccer game.

2. Kayaking in Half Moon Bay

The Smartcar team loves being active and exploring nature, so kayaking in Half Moon Bay was an easy way to make everyone happy. What’s more, we had a couple of folks interning from out of state. Our interns were able to see what the beautiful Northern Californian coast has to offer while getting to know the rest of the team.

The kayaks sat two people each. We randomly selected partners so that we all had a chance to get to know each other. As we navigated the harbor and made our way to a secluded beach, friendly competition ensued (naturally), and races between teams began. Partners had to work together to properly steer and maneuver the kayak to make it to the beach, and our teamwork was rewarded with a picnic lunch!

Credits: Half Moon Bay Kayak Co.

Tips: Half Moon Bay Kayak Co. made planning this offsite super easy. Our guides were friendly and patient and a delicious meal was waiting for us at the beach. The guides recommend starting a tour in the early morning because the water and wind are a little calmer at that time of day.

3. Volunteering at Sacred Heart Community Service

For our final offsite last year, we wanted to do something that gave back to the community. That is why we chose to partner with Sacred Heart Community Service in San Jose. The organization helps members of our community by providing them with necessary items such as food, clothing, blankets, and books. On top of that, Sacred Heart provides self-sufficiency programs that help people improve their financial strength and find employment while also providing essential services such as rental assistance to help end poverty.

Once we arrived at Sacred Heart, our team broke up into smaller groups. Some of us sorted new arrivals of food or clothes while others were responsible for signing in guests or handing out food or clothing items. In our three-hour shift, over 200 families received healthy food, warm clothes, and even school supplies. The whole Smartcar team was deeply impressed by the work Sacred Heart is doing. Most importantly, we got to meet many amazing people.

Credits: Sacred Heart Community Service

Tips: Before your scheduled volunteering day, encourage your team to do a little spring (or, in our case, winter) cleaning. Ask everyone to gather items they no longer need as a donation to those who do. Bring the items with you to Sacred Heart. It will make an invaluable difference in someone’s life.

Bonus tip: We noticed that some of the most popular items were blankets, coats, and backpacks.

I hope that this blog post can serve as an inspiration for your own offsite planning and provide insight into Smartcar’s work culture and team dynamics. If you have any questions or want to share your thoughts on the topic, please feel free to contact me. I’d love to chat and exchange ideas!

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