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How large and famous remote companies plan corporate Retreats

With the Covid- 19 pandemic subjecting almost 80% of employees in Europe to remote working, surveys show that lack of human interactions highly interferes with their adjustment. It is fundamentally necessary to have frequent team retreats for remote workers, as noted by many large remote companies like Zapier, Tortuga, Buffer, Trello, and Pexels. Team retreats are the primary solution for reducing isolation and stimulating unity among remote workers. 

Why Plan Company Retreats?

Remote working has indeed massively improved work efficiency and performance. However, as noted by Zapier, “some things happen easier when in person,” meaning physical interaction is essential. Retreats, according to large remote companies like Pexels are vital for fostering “creativity and new bonds strengthen motivation”. Tortuga says, “we have retreats to unite the team,” and also mentions that “retreats are more about spending time together than about working together”.

Remote work involves a lot of digital interactions among telecommuting team members, which obscures human interactions and performance.  These human isolation feelings caused by remote working can be remedied, by planning annual or quarterly team retreats to increase social engagement. Trello remarks that “a small amount of in-person interaction goes a long way in fostering connection”. 

Steps to Plan a Retreat Based on recommendations from Large Remote Companies

A feasible plan is vital when embarking on a corporate retreat regardless of whether you are working with a big group or a few people.

1. Evaluate Retreat Costs

Planning the costs is the most critical part of a retreat to accommodate all members and activities within the company’s budget. Zapier’s approach of reinvesting the huge amounts of money saved from office expenses into departmental retreats is an intelligent way of achieving invaluable amounts of fun and team-building experience.

2. Plan the Location

The question of where is most suitable to host fun activities should be considered first when planning retreats. Zapier has successfully conducted 10 retreats with team sizes of 7 members to 185. In their recommendation for planning a retreat, the location has to be somewhere convenient for easy access by team members. Buffer insists that the planning team has to consider the company’s needs for that retreat and choose a location that can cater to network requirements, conference rooms, and other necessary activities. 

3. Communicate Retreat Goals and Expectations

Companies should ensure all attending members are aware of the specific goal or purpose of the offsite. Just like Trello highlights, “an offsite with no direction can feel like a giant waste of time”. Clearly stating the goal helps align the focus of a remote team, while stating the expectations gives them a sense of accomplishment. The goal can range from encouraging social interactions, reducing the monotony of work to improving work strategies through brainstorming. 

4. Decide the Duration the Retreat should Last

It is essential to be considerate of people’s time and set a reasonable period to run the retreat. The time frame should be convenient for people with kids and a family, and also be enough to complete the company’s retreat goals. Most large companies propose having a 4-day retreat and probably throw in an optional extra day for just fun. 

5. Plan a Program of Activities and Regular Work

Retreats are all fun and work, hence it is easy to lose sight of one and overindulge in the other. A schedule or a program is then crucial to keep people in check and manage time appropriately. Troll suggests having this part of the planning be made open to the team’s ideas of activities and timelines they think to suit them best. Activities vary and range from excursions, gaming, work presentations, and learning sessions. Buffer in their retreat report, notes that work time should be dedicated to having discussions, meetings, and getting work done, while non-work time should be for having fun. 

Conclusion

Team retreats are focused on reenergizing team members, reducing isolation, strategizing the company’s objective and enhancing collaboration through unity. Most large remote companies like Zapier, Troll, Pexels, Buffer and Tortuga have recommended successful methods and steps for planning a productive team retreat. Concerns about figuring out the retreat budget, programs, activities and duration have stood out among emphasized steps that should be analyzed in the planning. 

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