The remote or distributed workforce concept has become increasingly popular in recent years, with many organizations realizing the benefits of allowing employees from around the world to contribute in a virtual environment. However, when it comes to building a strong culture and developing rapport within the team, there is still no substitute for the type of face-to-face interactions that come with an all-hands company retreat or work-week.
Retreat has found through years of experience that company retreats for remote teams often require special considerations in the planning and execution to ensure a smooth outcome, making sure the unique characteristics of a geographically and culturally diverse team are factored in properly. Here are a few tips we've learned over the years:
While the internet and software has made working with a remote team easier than ever, there is simply no replacement for getting the team together in one location, and working towards a goal while sharing a few laughs together in person. Things like culture, company values, and camaraderie are at the core of what makes good companies great, and can be more effectively developed in person rather than a Slack channel or a video screen.
GoogleHangouts and Zoom video conferencing are great for day to day details or client calls. However in-person group meetings can get a team on track fast - not to mention the time spent together outside the meeting room afterwards. Company retreats make this happen. Determine if you want to focus more on work, and achieving certain milestones. Or put more emphasis on getting to know each team member in a non-workplace environment. This will ultimately shape your company retreat agenda.
Relationships built online are made stronger when your employees meet in person
When deciding what to spend, a good rule of thumb we have found effective is the "Rule of Thirds". Take a budget, and divide it into 3 - 1/3rd should be earmarked for travel, 1/3rd for accommodations, and 1/3rd for meals and activities. That should give you a good starting point of how far you can travel on a budget, and how many nights you can stay.
For example, with a budget of US$2,500 per head, you should feel comfortable considering destinations that average around $800 for the flights (leaving a bit for transfers to/from the airport). From there, if you want 5 days - that means looking at properties around $165/night for accommodation, and allocating $165/day for meals and activities. Expand or shrink the length of your retreat accordingly.
Other factors worth considering:
The trip can be a business expense for tax purposes in most cases, if you can prove a sufficient amount of time was dedicated to work sessions and meetings. Doubling people up can stretch your accommodation budget a long way, however some people might resent being forced to share a room -you decide what's best for your team, but don't hesitate to poll the group for feedback before making a decision. Most European destinations include breakfast in their rate ("European Plan"), while most North American destinations do not. Taxes & other service fees are also generally included in the price in Europe, but not as common elsewhere.
This is an important question that is impossible to answer without factoring in the specific details of a company such as their budget and geographic distribution. We can however give you some things to consider:
Take stock of where your people are coming from and find a location that is easily accessible for the majority of the team. This will not only help with budget constraints but also make sure that everyone can attend without too much difficulty.
Consider the culture and atmosphere of the location. Are you looking for a more secluded and peaceful setting or a bustling city with plenty of activities and entertainment options? This will also help shape the agenda and activities for the retreat.
Think about the climate and season. If you're planning a retreat in the summer, a beach or outdoor location might be ideal. However, if it's during the colder months, a location with indoor activities and comfortable accommodations might be more suitable.
Research the local facilities and services. Make sure that the location has enough room for everyone, as well as amenities such as a conference room, internet access, and catering services.
Once you have determined the purpose and location of the retreat, it's time to start planning the agenda and activities. This will depend on the goals you have set for the retreat, as well as the preferences of the team.
Make sure to include a mix of work and leisure activities. This will help to balance out the retreat and ensure that everyone is engaged and productive.
Plan team-building activities such as outdoor adventures, cooking classes, or scavenger hunts. These activities can help to break the ice and build camaraderie among the team.
Schedule time for informal gatherings such as meals, happy hours, and social events. This will give team members an opportunity to get to know each other better in a relaxed and informal setting.
Plan some free time for everyone to explore the local area and participate in activities of their own choosing.
Once the details of the retreat have been finalized, it's important to communicate the information to the team and make sure everyone is prepared.
Send out an itinerary with all the details of the retreat, including the location, dates, and agenda.
Provide information on travel and accommodation arrangements, as well as any other logistics that need to be taken care of.
Encourage team members to get to know each other in advance, whether through online forums or group chats.
Provide any necessary information or materials that team members need to prepare for the retreat, such as a list of what to pack or any necessary equipment.
Overall, planning a company retreat for a remote team can be challenging, but with proper planning, communication, and preparation, it can be a valuable experience that will help to strengthen the culture and cohesion of the team. By following these tips and considering the unique characteristics of your team, you can plan a retreat that will be beneficial for everyone involved.
We will provide you with complimentary off-site planning assistance for free.
Send us an email, and we'll send you the perfect itinerary for your next company retreat. We know what it's like to plan a big event or meeting, so don't hesitate - to request now!