Comments are closed. Now this is going to make me sound like a real killjoy, but can someoneexplain to me what an “away day” is? Yes, I know what managementteams mean when they say they are planning to have an away day but the actualpurpose of these events always seems, how should I put this – unclear. But thenmaybe that is the whole point. I am not sure what the derivation of the word is, but I seem to remember theoriginal Away day was a train ticket, launched as part of a marketing campaignby British Rail. It did not matter too much where you ended up – the whole point was just toget “away”. Anywhere away from where you were, as long as you gotthere on one of its trains. Of course, that was back in the good old days, whenthere was a fair chance you could actually get somewhere, and back again, in aday. Everyone had a fun day out, but there was also a subliminal message that youwould get a bit of company bonding into the bargain. A bit of fun and some indistinct effort to aid team spirit is what mostmanagement away days are about. They have no particular destination in mind oreven a route map. Sometimes they are intended to give busy managers time tothink and reflect on their roles. Time, especially thinking time, is an increasingly scarce commodity back atthe ranch. If that is their purpose then I suppose it sounds just the sort ofthing some management teams could do with. It’s just this idea of going “away” that bothers me. It isartificial. When everyone is away from the workface, it is easy to forget allthe barriers, obstacles and frustrations that are part and parcel of our dailyworking lives in the office. Without these restraints it is relatively easy to achieve a temporary high,a feel good factor which will always make such events popular. This is why manyaway days are “facilitated” by “inspirational” or”motivational” speakers, because the element of fun and the high areseen as crucial elements. As any honest trainer knows though, getting good happy-sheet scores isrelatively easy – just make sure they have a good lunch and a few laughs. Unfortunately, the reason that no-one takes such scores seriously is becausethey know that the likely effects are about as substantial and durable as astick of candyfloss. On a personal level, it might well be more interesting to travel hopefullythan to arrive, but organisations should at least know what their destinationis. Otherwise they might as well all sign up for that other great day out – themystery tour. By Paul Kearns, Senior partner, Personnel Works Previous Article Next Article Staff away days are too artificial to be of valueOn 11 Sep 2001 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.