Team retreats and offsites are an excellent way to get remote team members together and build community. Of all the benefits, the main reason we all keep going back is the in-person human connection. Beyond simply networking, relationship building is by far the most valuable tool to a company. The more connected people feel to themselves, others, and your company, the more motivated and satisfied your team will be. To say your team is a community is like rocket fuel. We evolved in communities, we thrive in communities.
In our new remote world, genuine in-person connection is hard to come by, and as humans, we crave the release of chemicals like dopamine and oxytocin when interacting with others. Yes, virtually we can still stimulate some sense of connection. Something is better than nothing. But the real bonds form in person. That’s why we at Nomadic6 believe that allocating time and resources for several retreats or offsites per year will catalyze the growth of your remote team.
Here are 5 ways that you can develop a successful remote team reconnection strategy:
1. Make specific goals, and be clear on the intention.
When you decide to plan a team retreat or offsite, it’s imperative you are clear on the intention, or why you’re gathering. Are you celebrating an achievement? Do you want your team to work better together? Or maybe just have fun? If you’re looking to strategize, motivate, review company objectives and get work done in person, an offsite is what you’re looking for. If your goal is more social and you want to build a cohesive, resilient team, then think about a retreat.
The secret here isn’t to make it all about work. Free time allows for more organic bonds to form. Think water cooler moments. This goal should help you set expectations for the event and should give the team a sense of the actual work that will be accomplished during their time together.
2. Select locations that are convenient and designed for human thriving.
A team retreat or offsite is only as good as the quality of the location. This is crucial. A remote team member may be able to work remotely from anywhere, but if they do not have the flexibility of traveling, then an in-person event will be extremely difficult to pull off.
Rule number 1: make it convenient and accessible to reduce your carbon footprint. Most team retreats or offsite are held in central locations like Colorado, a great place for eastern and western teams to meet halfway.
Rule number 2: proximity to nature. Being out away from major cities allows your group to focus on the intention you set, without the distractions of urban life. Nature provides a unique opportunity for stillness and focus on reconnecting.
Rule number 3: the space must have all the amenities and infrastructure to make hosting your group as easy as possible. That’s not to say you need to be catered to 24/7. There is a lot of bonding that can happen around cooking meals and doing dishes together. But you want to make sure all the logistics of moving groups of people around are seamless. This is our job at Nomadic6
3. Form a Planning Committee
Once you’ve identified a retreat location, it’s a good idea to form a planning committee. This planning committee should include the following team members:
The Retreat Leader. This person should serve as the main point of contact for the team, as well as the person responsible for planning the event.
The Experience Designer. This person is responsible for selecting a theme and managing the materials, decor, entertainment and overall experience of your event.
The IT Expert. This person is responsible for selecting the software and applications, audio and visual equipment, and will be in charge of all the tech that the team will need for the event.
The Communications Manager. This person is responsible for preparing the logistics and communications plan of the retreat while being the central contact and resource hub for the group.
4. Plan the Schedule for Your Team Retreat or Offsite
When thinking about the agenda for the team, we at Nomadic6 suggest the 40/30/20 rule created by Chase Warrington at Doist. Or 40% work, 30% fun, 20% free time. To start this process. Here are some great question:
Who will be participating?
What is the intention of bringing these people together?
What can we only do in-person?
What’s available at the location?
What will the weather be like while we’re there?
What activities are close by?
What facilitators do we know or can we hire to compliment our programming?
5. Plan Future Team Retreats and Offsites.
If you are satisfied with the quality of the retreat or offsite and the planning committee, then you should repeat the process and plan additional events in the future. It’s a good idea to be proactive about planning future retreats because it can be difficult to bring people together again. The farther out you plan something, the easier it is to get better deals, and properly account for all the risks involved.
As with all aspects of your business, communication is key. If your team knows when your next event is, they can properly make arrangements to be there. We suggest at least a 6 month heads up that there will be a retreat or offsite happening in the future.
Bonus step: Close the Event with a Happy Ending
The key to success in remote team retreats is to avoid burnout, and be memorable. You must ensure that there is a happy ending for all the participants. It’s important that you don’t make the experience one that will bring up stress and negative feelings.
After the retreat is over, it’s important to ask for feedback. This will help to prevent the project from getting sidelined and forgotten and provide you with insights on how to improve for the next one.
You might even consider including a special post-retreat report. This report should include a summary of the activities that were done, and some of the feedback from the participants. It can also help to give you and your team ideas about how to improve the next retreat.
If you’re ever looking for help in planning a retreat or offsite, reach out to us at Nomadic6! We’ll be happy to talk through your event anytime.
About the Author
Matt Young is an advocate for the future of remote work that lives to build communities. Since 2016 Matt has traversed the globe immersing himself in foreign cultures and communities of expats building alternative lifestyles. Matt is designing experiences for remote teams to reconnect in exotic places while living in beautiful spaces. He believes the future of work is not just at home or back in the office, but in locations designed for human thriving.
Check out Nomadic6.com for more!