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How to plan an off-site team building event that actually works

February 3, 2021

Team building events, and their integral team building activities, are a tool used by businesses around the world. Often companies decide to hold these events away from the office. They are a great way to gain a fresh perspective, build cohesion, foster teamwork or solve a problem. The outcome for employees should have positive and lasting effects.

Unfortunately, many team building off-sites turn out to be ineffective. A great deal of planning and preparation needs to happen, even before the off-site event takes place, and sometimes getting the sequencing right isn’t easy.

Do’s and Don’ts for a successful off-site team event

To maximise the success of your off-site team event, take a look at these suggested “Do’s and Don’ts“:


  • Set clear goals;
  • Create an agenda;
  • Set ground rules;
  • Gather anonymous input and suggestions;
  • Plan activities that actually build teams;
  • Build in process reflection time;
  • Schedule a post event follow up.


  • Don’t let the team’s old dynamics constrain the new dynamics that you’re trying to create;
  • Don’t focus too much on the strengths, development needs, or personalities of individual members of the team;
  • Don’t abdicate your authority, or send mixed messages about your role;
  • Don’t do anything that causes the team to engage in dysfunctional conflict or competition among individuals.

Consider Metis Crossing for your team event

Métis means a person who self-identifies as Metis, is distinct from other Aboriginal peoples, is of historic Métis Nation Ancestry and who is accepted by the Métis Nation.

Métis Crossing is the first major Métis cultural interpretive centre in Alberta and is a premier centre for Alberta Métis cultural interpretation, education, gatherings, and business development. Sitting on 512-acres of land, comprised of river lot titles from the original Métis settlers to the region in the late 1800s, the crossing is designed to engage and excite visitors through an exploration of Métis cultural experiences.

Métis Crossing strives to represent and share elements of Métis culture; pride of culture and respect (with self-identification), family reconnection and reconciliation, sacredness of place and empathy and acknowledgement.

Métis Crossing is the perfect place to host your next corporate training or workshop. The brand-new, state of the art Cultural Gathering Centre sets the stage for a day of learning on historical land. The state-of-the-art technology allows your training or presentation to be seamless – connecting you around the world through our wireless connection. It is the perfect place for Indigenous training or other workshops your company may be putting on for staff.

Métis Crossing has been developed to be a year-round destination centered around the distinct Métis Indigenous story and culture. Below are just a few plans for the future:

  • The Métis Crossing Lodge
  • Star Watching Glass Pods
  • Playground Area
  • Animal Area
  • Historical Métis Exhibit
  • Skills Show
  • Cooking Demonstrations
  • Skills Barn
  • Traditional Gardens
  • Archery
  • Toboggan Run

The value of injecting culture into your off-site team building event

Historical proof – refers to evidence of an ancestor who received a land grant or a scrip granted under the Manitoba Act or the Dominion Lands Act, or who was recognized as Métis in other government, church or community records. The Métis People have a distinct culture and nationhood.

In the past decade, the Métis population has nearly doubled making the Métis one of the fastest growing populations in Canada with a population estimated at 451,795 in 2011 of which a significantly high percentage lived in Alberta alone. Today, Alberta accounts for more than 96,865 Métis which is the largest among the provinces and territories representing more than 21.4% of all Métis in Canada. While Métis live and work in virtually every community in Alberta, the higher populace is seen in the estimated 31, 780 (33%) Métis living in Edmonton, and the 17,040 (18%) in Calgary, making up approximately 55 percent of the total Aboriginal population in the province. Alberta is the only Canadian province where the Métis have a land base recognized under provincial legislation – There are 8 Métis Settlements in Alberta.

Developing your employee off-site strategy

As part of the planning process, you need to develop your employee off-site strategy. Here are some best practices:

  • Write down a realistic agenda. Make sure to include some downtime, space for one-on-ones and meals. Activities, for example yoga and an evening whiskey tasting, can be fun little extras. Avoid overscheduling or micromanaging coworkers.
  • Take stock of your current culture. Ask yourself this question: What are our mission, vision, and values? Ideas for your off-site need to align with your mission, vision, and values.

Aligning employee offsite meetings with employee recognition

Again, your company offsite should prove that the leadership of your organization is in touch with your employees. What do your employees care about at work? At home? There is so much more to employee recognition than dollar amounts. An elaborate company meeting can strengthen your organization’s peer relationships, but it won’t replace them when it comes to keeping employees engaged.

Meaningful activities for company offsite meetings

Here are some activity suggestions that can be meaningful for everyone attending:

  • Games: It’s not often you get all your employees in one spot, so pick activities that are both fun and meaningful!
  • Service: There’s nothing to say the competition can’t be service-related. Many service organizations offer professional coordinators to help with setup, making it easier to mobilize your workforce for a good cause.
  • Roundtables: Among all the learning that goes on during company offsite meetings, some of the best insights can come through feedback from coworkers.

Team building activities

Team building activities are not limited to the trust falls. Consider these alternatives:

  • Scavenger Hunt
  • Board Game Tournament
  • Office Trivia
  • Go-Kart racing
  • Professional Development Workshop
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Race
  • Room Escape Games

On-site activities at Metis Crossing include:

Signature experiences: Métis Crossing offers visitors the opportunity to participate in guided cultural interpretive experiences, sharing the distinct Indigenous story of the Métis people in an interactive way. These signature experiences change with the seasons. This winter visitors can participate in Tales from the Trapline, a 4-hour immersive Indigenous experience that explores Métis traditional winter activities and skills on a historic Métis River Lot farm. Strap on a set of snowshoes, set a snare, build a survival shelter, and learn a traditional art as you create your own unique and beautiful keepsake.

Traditional workshops: Métis Crossing offers a variety of Traditional Workshops, providing an opportunity for interactive, hands-on learning experiences. This Winter they are offering a series of traditional arts and crafts workshops for individuals of all skill levels!

Daily experiences: Métis Crossing is pleased to offer daily experiences included in the price of admission. These activities include historical exhibits, art exhibits and additional Métis cultural interpretive experiences.

Keynote speakers

Choosing the right keynote speaker is important. They establish the underlying tone and theme of your off-site program. Consider these categories, and the purpose of your event, when making your choice:

  • Inspirational: A presenter with an impressive life story can provide a human element to your company retreat;
  • Functional: A functional keynote speaker can take your employees through exercises designed to improve common working skills, such as communication;
  • Leadership: Have leaders speak directly and authentically to their employees.

Logistics for a successful employee offsite meeting

Planning an off-site event can be complex and involve many steps. You may find it helpful to think about these logistics in the planning stage.

Venue considerations

Selecting the right venue is one of the most important first steps. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is the venue large enough?
  • Does it have overnight accommodation?
  • What is parking like?
  • How will attendees travel there?
  • Does the venue provide catering?

When you visit Métis Crossing you will never leave hungry. Our fresh food approach is guided by Indigenous culinary masters that are bringing a taste of our culture right to you. Métis Crossing offers guests an optional lunch menu that includes locally harvested ingredients with traditional ties to the Métis people and heritage.

Scheduling considerations

After selecting a venue, visit the venue before the event and measure some factors that will affect your employee offsite schedule:

  • Set a date at least two months in advance;
  • Scope out traveling times between areas where different activities;
  • Ask your catering company approximate times for serving the number of employees you expect to attend;
  • Provide buffers for technical difficulties;

What are the reasons to hold an off-site team building event?

Getting people out of the office opens up new perspectives, and can spur discussions and relationships that don’t naturally happen at work. Most companies struggle to find time to take a ‘day off’ to work on what matters, while everyday problems keep piling up.

A team offsite is useful for:

  • Building trust and collaboration;
  • Building communication;
  • Strategy and alignment;
  • Learning and experimenting;
  • Tackle large initiatives;
  • Team awareness.

Métis Crossing is located 1.5 hours northeast of Edmonton, just 10 minutes South of Smokey Lake on the Victoria Trail. With cultural experiences, full day activities and fun for all ages. Visiting from a distance? There are camping options available, stay the night and enjoy a campfire. Spend time in this beautiful outdoor landscape which will only enhance your team’s off-site event.

What are you trying to solve?

Before embarking into a team offsite make sure you define a clear objective for the session. It’s also important to agree on expectations and what the ideal outcome should look like. The more clear and focused the goal, the more effective the offsite will be.

Be ready to reframe the problem

Understanding the problem is the key to designing the right experience. Often, the initial assessment differs from the real problem. The pre-work phase provides valuable insights to better understand what’s going on, and bridge the gap between what management sees and what the team members observe.

Plan your team offsite event ahead of time

A team offsite involves a lot of planning and people. A small group, leader included, should be involved in the key design phases and approval. Preparing the team is vital without putting too much additional load on their shoulders. Sending out some pre-reads or exercises can help create curiosity. Consider what resources you already have at your disposal.

Having a clear agenda with planned activities and break is critical, but facilitators must also be flexible. To keep the energy flowing, group dynamics must change — switch partners, alternate sitting and standing activities. The post event follow-up is everything.

When all of these pro tips align, your attendees will be able to seamlessly apply everything they’ve learned and experienced in their day-to-day work long after your event has ended.

Testimonial by Greg Probert, Principal, Ecole Campbelltown “In August of 2019 Ecole Campbelltown went to Metis Crossing for some professional development. This was one of the most valuable and engaging Professional Development sessions we have done in a long time. We learned about the history of the metis people in Alberta, the ins and outs of the new TQS requirements, danced the jog, took part in weaving/beading/ a craft using fish scales / birch bark and other natural items. We also had a meal together, which was topped off with Bannock. It was an absolutely, beautiful and relaxing learning environment, we were surrounded by nature, history and the amazing team of leaders at the Crossing. Kudos to metis Crossing for an overall, outstanding experience!”

Metis Crossing is the perfect place for your next team building event.

Contact Metis Crossing today to book your event!

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