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Clever Company Retreat Ideas for Successful Corporate Team-Building


Article Updated 5/25/23

Collaboration within an organization doesn’t happen overnight. Bringing teams closer in a culture outside of the office has long proven to be a vehicle for improved cooperation and communication. Management, employees, and teams all benefit from the bonding that comes from a more relaxed environment, otherwise known as the Corporate Retreat.

Let’s explore the different corporate retreat ideas, designed specifically for team-building and company cohesion. Gratefully, many retreats are now in-person, but even virtual retreats are beneficial when teams are widely distributed around the country or world. Below are several unique ideas to try for your next company retreat.

What is a Company Retreat?

Lasting one day, a few days, a week, or longer, a corporate retreat is a management and staff-wide getaway aimed to be relaxing, invigorating, thought-provoking, and inspiring. Designed as a safe space to bond, retreats can be a true motivator for a company, calling on each employee to come together to problem solve. 

In today’s remote world, many companies have employees that never meet in person. The corporate retreat truly becomes essential for colleagues to meet and hopefully gain a better understanding of one another. Retreats are designed to bring everyone together, whether on the micro level (project-specific) or the macro (company-wide team building for future endeavors).

Benefits of Holding a Company Retreat

When it comes to the benefits of hosting a company retreat, it’s tough to find a downside. The range of benefits, from brainstorming opportunities to team skill-building are vast. Benefits include:

  • Boosted employee morale: Upping morale might very well be the primary reason why companies host retreats. The benefits are two-pronged. First, a retreat can be a way to show employees that the company is invested in them and their worth. Secondly, a well-planned retreat can help breakdown the “us-vs-them” culture of senior management and staff. Leaders become more visible, allowing employees to have the opportunity to interact with senior staff.
  • Increased employee appreciation: The deepening of relationships between employees is certainly one of the most beneficial aspects of a company retreat. And it isn’t just exclusive to the dynamic of senior management to staff –  gaining an understanding of a fellow colleague’s scope of work consistently improves camaraderie within teams. 
  • Improved Team Relationships: A retreat often leads to brainstorming sessions, which leads to team-building, which leads to increased post-retreat productivity. Communication is quickly improved, proving to be an asset long after the retreat is over. Bonding experiences during a corporate retreat links teams together, making it easier to rally around a company and its shared vision. 

Want to show your employees your appreciation?

Check out our The 50 Most Unique Corporate Gift Ideas For 2022 and show your colleagues how thoughtful you are.

How to Hold an In-Person Company Retreat

Retreat planning, like any other company event, will take time. But when done well, the benefits of a team-building retreat will ripple through your organization for months and years to come. Some standard issue questions always ring true when planning for an event, even a corporate retreat. 

Here are some questions to ask as you begin to plan your retreat:

  • What are your company’s goals? What is your corporate retreat looking to accomplish? What would you like to see your team get out of it? Are you looking to deepen connections between a remote team? Or are you looking for a casual team-building focus for your retreat? 
  • What venue would work the best? What is your budget? Do you need to keep the venue local or is a central meeting location somewhere remote most ideal? What would the team be interested in? Is your company the rustic, mountainous, outdoors type? Or the tropical, Caribbean type? Will there be lodging on site? Are discounts or packages offered?
  • What transportation will you need? How will your employees get to, from, and around your chosen venue? If you are planning a one-day retreat in town, will a shuttle bus work? Will you need to book flights? Shuttles from the airport? Car rentals? What if you are planning a dinner at a restaurant away from the venue?
  • What activities will you plan? What can you book in advance that all team members can participate in? Are your employees open to challenges on the physical side? Or would a cooking class more suit your crowd? What guest speakers would your team be interested in hearing from? How can you best mix up departments during activities? Are there location-specific activities you can look into (i.e.: a Bourbon distillery tour in Kentucky, or a foothills hike in Colorado)? 
  • What will you feed your team? Does your venue offer on-site food? Or do you need to source out a caterer? Where does your venue recommend for dining? How many meals will your budget allow? What dietary restrictions or allergies do your employees have?

Grab the bug spray — time for camp. See why a summer camp themed offsite is an excellent choice for team building.

12 Company Retreat Ideas

From one-day company retreat ideas, to a weeklong experience for your employees, inspiration is below when it comes to planning your next company team-building outing. Getting your fellow workers out of the office and into a new space invigorates and stimulates in only the way a corporate retreat can.

Here are some of the 12 best company retreat ideas:

1. Hiking Expeditions

That’s the thing when you get employees out of the office – they are out of the office. Spending time outside on a hike not only boosts productivity and oxygen flow, being one with nature might be the most inexpensive way to allow your team to bond. If your office isn’t close to a hiking trail, charter a bus to a somewhat nearby forest preserve or footpath. Just be sure that all are able to participate by checking the trail’s accessibility. 

2. Cooking Class

Food is a natural connector. When a team comes together to assemble a dish or meal, they will problem solve in a relaxed atmosphere without realizing it. They will work together to create something and then share in its’ splendors. The parallels to draw are almost too many! Corporate cooking classes are popular for a reason. 

3. Bike Tour

Being outside in nature allows a shift from the corporate environment. And what better way to do that than on a bike? Everyone has been on their Pelotons enough during the pandemic anyway – let’s turn that screen into the scenic outdoors! Have your team explore their own city on a bike with a tour guide. (Again, if you choose a physical activity, be certain all can participate.) 

4. Glamping

No need to rough it, here. Creature comfort fans will rejoice in a “glamping” option for your corporate retreat (glamping is a portmanteau for “glamour camping”). Your employees will enjoy the camping-with-amenities an overnight of glamping provides. This summer camp-type retreat should relax employees, with endless options for team-building activities. 

5. Attending a Conference

The people with whom you work should have a baseline of similar interests, correct? After all, each of you work for the same company, likely believing in the organization’s vision and mission statement. So making plans to attend an industry conference might be just what your team needs for a one-day outing. A virtual conference will have the same effect, so leave time for breakout sessions or workshops, then plan a dinner out with the team afterward.

6. Movie Screening

Like food, movies are a shared, cultural experience. If your retreat has been nothing but go go go, perhaps a night to wind down and take in the latest Oscar-buzzy movie or hottest documentary might just be the ticket. Conversations will likely spark after (just not during the screening…shhh).

Group of people hiking together on a trail at a company retreat

7. Team Sports

While it feels like a throwback, old-fashioned company picnic-type sports are having a moment. A rousing game of Accounting vs. Marketing kickball might just be what the company needs to reinvigorate in between meetings. Friendly, physical competition will bond employees. And If you can plan the game outside, bonus points all around.

8. DIY Cocktail Class

Similar to a cooking demonstration, a DIY Cocktail Class will bring a team together in a shared, light-hearted experience. A hosted mixology class, like The Cocktail Architect, are sensory beverage experiences that spark some serious inspiration and creativity. These types of classes make for great breakaway sessions. The classes can be held in-person, or with a small list prepped ahead of time, virtually. 

9. Virtual Flower Class

Put your employees’ creativity on full display by hosting a virtual flower class. Florabrook hosts a step-by-step virtual class on how to make stunning floral arrangements. A format like this works virtually anywhere – your retreat venue can surely accommodate a group of ten or so, all armed with a pair of scissors and imagination.

10. Virtual Yoga Class

Deep breath in…a yoga class is a team-building activity nearly everyone can get behind. Classes by Stretch With Clee reaches all levels. Stretching classes are especially helpful when employees are virtual at home, not moving as much as they should. Corporate retreats often use stretching and yoga as a preferred physical activity for employees, simply because it’s inclusive. Employees are moving, breathing, and focusing, all good virtues that lead to inspirational work output.  

11. Wellness Classes

Each one of your employees certainly wants to be the best version of themselves. If your company places importance on self-care, a win-win will result. Help your employees find their inner peace with a wellness class from Glow Events, who will walk them through an at-home facial tutorial, a guided sound bath meditation, or even demonstrate how to create your own perfume. 

12. Cookie Decorating Class

Imagine this: a DIY cookie decorating that's not just about food, but about bringing your team closer together. Lean into your collective sweet sooth with DIY cookie kits or a live class from Funny Face Bakery. Their cookie kits come with everything you'll need to whip up these decadent sweets — with style. Plus, when you step back and see the beautiful and tasty results of your teamwork, you'll feel a sense of pride that'll stick around long after the class is over.

Example Corporate Retreat Itineraries

Structuring your retreat means striking the right balance between activities, excursions, leisure time, and actual work. While the duration of your team-building retreat will inevitably be influenced by budget constraints and scheduling considerations, the careful orchestration of your itinerary is what truly transforms it into a meaningful and impactful experience. Here are some examples of how to plan your time:

One-Day Retreat

  • Morning – Shuttle/bus arrival. Check-in. Take 15-30 minutes to settle in. Allow each employee some time to self-reflect and prepare.
  • Mid-morning – Highlight employee accomplishments, goals achieved, and don’t forget to celebrate! Now is a good time to break off into small groups. 
  • Lunchtime – Encourage employees to mix and mingle. 
  • Early afternoon – Stretching, yoga, or other physical challenges. This will energize the group for activities later in the day.
  • Late afternoon – Select from pre-planned activities, like a demonstration, breaking into small groups again. 
  • Pre-dinner – Alone time and self-reflection. Were goals achieved during the day?
  • Dinner – Plan a meal at your retreat location or off-site. Maybe a cooking class or cocktail mixing demonstration. 

Five-Day Retreat:

  • Day 1 – Arrival day shouldn’t include too much structure. Plan one “anchor” event like a team dinner.
  • Days 2 to 4 – Now is when the work begins. A welcome address from leadership, administrative “housekeeping” items to review, general question-and-answer for the morning of the first work day, then breakout sessions of work, preplanned activities, and structured meals for the rest of the time.
  • Day 5 – Free time. Departure times might be different, so like the first day, leave this day open for interpretation. Plan games or classes that will interest employees, and encourage them to work together. 

Virtual Retreat:

  • Before the retreat – Send out collateral or materials needed well in advance.
  • First thing – Kick-off the morning with music, or another way to get your employees amped up. Roll into an icebreaker session. 
  • Mid-morning – Establish the day’s schedule and any other housekeeping items. 
  • Late morning – Break into sessions and tackle the meat of the day’s work.
  • Lunch – Give a break for lunch. Maybe your employees are enjoying a lunch you delivered to them?
  • After lunch – This is a great time for a speaker, or maybe some kind of physical activity like virtual yoga.
  • Mid-afternoon – Time for a guided class like a floral arrangement or wellness demonstration.
  • Closing – Thank participants and conclude for dinner.

A well-planned team-building retreat brings together a company in way that no other off-site activity can. Post-retreat work output in often increased, and increased comradery should abound. Let The Vendry be your source to plan your next corporate retreat. 

Want more ways to build employee connections?

Read: How to Optimize Your Offsite: Connection

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