The benefits of team events are well known. They facilitate interaction between teams, build relationships and empathy between coworkers, and amp up employee engagement.
However, the planning process can be hard. Whether you’re managing the company holiday party, setting up your employee programming for the season ahead, or planning a last minute summer get-together for your team, organizing events that are creative and engaging can feel like an added burden on top of your day-to-day operational and administrative responsibilities.
As the editor for All Hands and an event organizer myself, I’ve had the opportunity to learn from event planning experts. I wanted to take an opportunity to share some ideas to take the stress out of event planning, so you can create events that everyone in your office can enjoy… including you!
Set clear goals
Before you launch into planning, define the purpose of your event. Are you celebrating your team’s accomplishments, enabling people to unwind after an intense campaign, hosting clients or community members, or sharing education with the help of a speaker or panel discussion? When you define your desired outcome for your event, you can streamline your decision-making because you will know if an idea does, or does not, help you reach your event goals.
Choose a venue that fits your event
It may seem obvious, but you want to make sure that the space where you choose to host your event supports your event goals. If your goal is to encourage different teams to interact with each other, find a space where people can freely move around and talk to each other.
When you are hosting large, annual events such as your company holiday or summer party, planning in advance is your best advantage. Venues, especially those that have a larger capacity, can book up quickly, so it’s best to book three-to-six months in advance. However, not every event needs a knock-it-out-of-the-park venue. For events outside of popular times of the year, a month’s notice is often sufficient.
Because venue rental can be a major expense, get creative and explore alternative locations. For example, you can transform your office by bringing in fresh decor pieces, use a short-term rental space like a Breather or Splacer, which offer affordable, flexible, spaces by the hour for out-of-office gatherings or events, or even a public space like a park or community garden.
Ensure your event and activities fits a range of needs
Because events amplify your workplace culture, ensuring they are inclusive is essential to creating an environment where your coworkers can thrive. To ensure you are creating an event that is welcoming to a wide range of team members, consider details like dietary needs, non-alcoholic beverage options for non-drinkers, and timing to accommodate those who have family care obligations.
When planning activities, think about how you can engage different personality types. While you may have a dance or karaoke party for the extroverts, team or group activities like instructional painting or trivia can be fun for a range of personality types. In addition, at a large event be sure you also have quieter areas for small group or one-on-one conversations to ensure more introverted team members feel comfortable.
While event planning can feel overwhelming, approaching logistics systematically and creating a standardized event playbook that you adapt for each event can ensure you are not starting from scratch each time you begin planning.
In your playbook, include:
- A workback timeline where you list all the tasks you need to complete in advance of your event date and their deadline
- Preferred vendors and their contact information
- Food and beverage requirements
- An event budget template
Put dates from your timeline in your calendar and use a project management tool like Trello to keep all dates and information about your event in one place. For a more detailed event planning calendar, download The Complete Guide to Office Management from Managed by Q.
You don’t have to plan alone
Event planning is a lot of work, but it need not be a solitary pursuit. Put together a small planning committee where you can delegate tasks like researching venues and activities, and run ideas by various stakeholders. Keep your committee small, because while everyone has an opinion, you want to make sure you can make definitive decisions in a timely manner.
For day-of event support, consider recruiting extra help. While you may often play a support role for your coworkers, you also need support! Sign up your coworkers to volunteer for shifts, or hire event support staff from a company like Managed by Q to handle tasks like check-in, security, bartending, and resetting the refreshments. When you have a team to help you set up, manage the event, and clean up, you can actually enjoy the event you put together!
For more advice about organizing and running your office space, as well as building your career, subscribe to All Hand’s FREE monthly newsletter.