How to choose inclusive team offsites

Short link - http://tinyurl.com/inclusive-offsites 

Background

What is an offsite?

What is inclusivity?

Why should I read this?

General considerations

Specific inclusion concerns

Eating and drinking

Physical requirements

Timing

Appendix: Some offsite ideas

Appendix: Danger zone!

Background

This document was initially written in the context of selecting team offsites at Silicon Valley based tech companies. However, much of it is applicable to other settings.

What is an offsite?

For the purposes of this document, an offsite is an employer-sponsored social event, which takes place outside of the normal work setting and sometimes outside of the normal work hours. Offsites usually have an explicit or implicit goal of team-bonding and/or morale-building, and there is usually peer pressure to attend (“mandatory fun”). Offsites are distinct from conferences and interoffice travel. Offsites may vary in scale, from e.g., an overnight ski trip for thousands to a mini-golfing outing for a handful of people.

What is inclusivity?

For the purposes of this document, inclusivity is the intention of including people and groups who might otherwise be excluded. In the context of tech companies, the term often refers to including women and members of underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, but inclusivity also applies to including individuals who are not members of visibly distinct groups.

Why should I read this?

When you come up with ideas for offsites, you probably come up with ideas you would personally enjoy. You may also think that because you would enjoy them, your teammates would enjoy them. That’s totally natural, but not everyone enjoys the same things, and if a few people always come up with ideas, they may unintentionally plan offsites that make other people feel unwelcome or excluded. Sometimes, they may even come up with ideas that make it infeasible for some people to participate at all. As an offsite planner, this is probably not what you want! Fortunately, once you are aware of this tendency, you can keep it in check by explicitly considering inclusivity when planning offsites. Many of the things which can prevent offsites from being inclusive are non-obvious, so here are some guidelines.

General considerations

Specific inclusion concerns

This is not an exhaustive list.

Eating and drinking

Physical requirements

Timing

Appendix: Some offsite ideas 

Do not just use this as a checklist of approved activities. Every team is composed of different people, so what worked for one team may not be inclusive or fun for yours.

Appendix: Danger zone!

Again every team is different, but these are some categories of offsite activity which have a high probability of excluding some team members.

License

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us/

Contributors for v1 (March 2015)

Sara Smollett and anonymous contributors

Have suggestions? Contribute to v2!

As of May 2015, the most current version of this document can be found on the geekfeminism wiki at http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Inclusive_offsites.