Is Your Contact Centre in Need of an Away Day?


Can’t remember the last time you reviewed your processes? It’s probably time you took your agents off the phones and treated them to an Away Day.

One of the biggest issues facing the contact centre industry is its obsession with operational efficiency, which has stretched in-house resources to their limit and compromised the customer service experience.

The end result? Entire floors of agents, team leaders and managers who are so consumed with fire-fighting incoming calls that they barely have time to look at the bigger picture – let alone resolve any issues.

An Away Day provides some time and space to think

An Away Day is a corporate event in which employees are taken out of the office to engage in a series of activities – including team-building exercises, as well as training and brainstorming sessions.

They provide an opportunity to escape the daily hassles of the normal working environment and re-evaluate business goals and strategies.

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They can be held at any point during the year, although the beginning of the calendar or financial year can tie in nicely with the mentality of making a fresh start. You could also consider hosting Away Days in your off-peak periods.

Ideas for Away Day activities:

  • Rock climbing
  • Treasure hunt
  • Clay pigeon shooting
  • Archery
  • Mini casino
  • Dragon boat racing
  • Long walk
  • Puzzles
  • Role playing
  • T-shirt printing
  • Go-Karting
  • Rope walks

Who should I take to my next Away Day?

It is not necessarily in your best interests to take the entire contact centre on an Away Day – and not just because you’ll need someone to cover the phones.

In every organisation, no matter how much effort you put into employee engagement, there will always be those who show up simply for the money. These people are likely to see an Away Day as a chore instead of an opportunity.

The best way to filter these people out is to publicise your upcoming Away Day and ask people to put their names forward. If you are oversubscribed, you can pull names out of a hat to decide who gets to go.

How do I organise an Away Day?

A quick internet search will highlight the companies in your area offering Away Day packages.

Prices start from £70 a head, including a three-course lunch, some team-building activities, and the use of a conference room. Yet factors such as unusual location, the inclusion of outdoor pursuits, alcohol and entertainment can all drive costs above £200 a head.

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Alternatively, you can book a conference room at a local hotel and organise your own activities.

Here are some ideas to help your Away Day get off to a great start:

What is important to your employees and customers?

It is useful to define an end goal of some sort when you begin evaluating your processes and business strategy.

One way to gather thoughts on this is to ask the group ‘what is important to you?’, ‘what is important to our customers?’ and ‘what is important to both?’ Answers can be gathered on large sheets of paper or a whiteboard.

Once everyone has put forward their views, take a few minutes to talk through these points. Then pin them up in a central place to help inform the rest of the day’s activities.

Build a true picture of the most pressing issues with an ‘Honesty Box’

Next you should collectively identify the issues that need resolving. You can do this by asking everyone to put their thoughts – anonymously – in an ‘Honesty Box’.

Give everyone a piece of paper and an envelope and ask them to write down 3 problems they think need immediate attention. They should also include how these issues contradict the values mentioned in the ‘what is important…’ exercise.

All of these envelopes should then be sealed and put into the designated ‘Honesty Box’.

The group can then break for brunch or a team-building activity, while the management team review the suggestions and create a shortlist of key issues.

Get everyone involved in developing solutions with a Dragon’s Den twist

Once the shortlist has been compiled, divide the group into several teams of 3 to 4 people. Assign each team an issue and ask them to come up with a short presentation about how it could be resolved. The proposed solution should be aligned with the answers to the ‘what is important…’ exercise.

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Give each team at least an hour to gather their thoughts and rehearse their presentation. There is nothing to be gained from rushing this exercise.

(It can be useful to assign the same issue to several groups to gain multiple solutions to the same problem. This strategy can also help to drive a competitive atmosphere and more creative approach to problem-solving.)

Then, in a similar style to the BBC TV show Dragon’s Den, ask the teams to present their solutions to the management team.

Divide up the day with coffee breaks and team-building activities

It is also important to divide up the day with coffee breaks and fun team-building exercises, such as ‘building the tallest tower’ with dried spaghetti or creating a protective case for a raw egg to survive a 10ft drop.

No one will give you their best if you burn them out!

Has your contact centre had a good Away Day?

We’d love to hear your experiences about what worked best!

Published On: 25th Nov 2015 - Last modified: 17th Sep 2019
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