How to Make Your Company Retreat Unforgettable (with Location Examples)
The business obsession with the bottom line, making more profits quarter after quarter, often neglects a fundamental aspect of productivity: downtime. Working is like exercise, if you keep working the same muscles nonstop, they’ll be too exhausted to get strong and healthy.
Sometimes a change of environment is helpful; it shakes off the doldrums of routine and helps people respond more openly to new ideas. In an ideal environment, people can recharge their batteries and engage in teamwork activities, so when they return to the office morale is boosted and productivity likely increases.
Yes, that ideal environment we’re talking about is a company retreat. If done right, a company retreat is as important as a vacation, a training course or a benefits package. In a way, it’s all three. But that’s only if you can take the idea of a company retreat seriously. It’s not something to initiate casually; it involves planning, having objectives—and most of all—fun for the entire team.
Why Are Company Retreats Important?
If you’re not convinced about the benefits of a company retreat, there’s a 2017 FfK survey that was conducted for Project: Time Off that showed that working less increases productivity. That’s not a typo; you read it right: working less leads to greater productivity.
According to the survey, 78 percent of managers felt that giving people time off improved their focus, while 70 percent said it renewed their staff’s commitment to the job. Therefore, just going off-site, and leaving the office behind is enough to help with work productivity. However, once you’ve found that positive setting, you can build on it with what is often critically referred to as a “workcation.” Just getting out of the office is good, but filling that day with fun games, team building activities and other ways to foster teamwork is better.
Creativity, Productivity and Feelings of Self-Worth
As the Harvard Business Journal noted, teams work better when they’re communicating with each other, rather than with management. It leads to more creativity and, yes, productivity. Having people socialize outside the workplace has positive results when they get back to the office.
Having time away from the desk, especially if that company retreat is something that employees enjoy and don’t see as another task, can boost morale by making people feel valued and cared for by management. Not only does this help retain skilled workers and keep them committed, according to research out of the University of Warwick, happy workers are 12 percent more productive.
Related: 5 Team Productivity Blockers and How to Overcome Them
Tips for Successful Company Retreats
Of course, good company retreats don’t just come together out of thin air. They have to be well-organized and thought out to reap the full benefits of an office getaway. Here are some tips for having a company retreat that everyone will enjoy, and no one will forget.
Go Beyond the Office
The first thing is not to have it in the office. Everyone works there. Even if you conjure the most magical day of people’s lives, the setting is always going to call them back to work. There will be distractions and there’s just the psychological state of being in the place where people labor.
Go off-site. Find interesting, unique and fun environments (we’ll have some examples at the end). A last word about the destination, it should be a place where people feel free from the roles and responsibilities they have at work. You want a place where people can relax and be open to innovation and new ways of thinking.
Once you have a site picked, don’t skimp on the agenda. Planning the event is not merely deciding on a date, time and location. The next step is scheduling the day to meet your agenda and keep the people there happy and active. That means, if you’re going to do a lot of work-related activities, it’s probably best to stagger them throughout the day with more fun stuff between.
Remember the Essentials
It might sound obvious, but don’t forget about sustenance. No one is going to excel at anything with no food in their belly. Getting food doesn’t mean stopping on the way and packing the trunk with junk. Think ahead, make the food and drink as special as the day. Planning, cooking and eating together can also become a team building activity. Be as creative with the meals as with the activities.
Designate a Manager
The company retreat opens, and it closes, and whoever is leading it must manage those two events, as well as any others, such as lunch breaks, that might occur over the course of the day. It’s best to set the scene at the beginning, explain why everyone is there and what is hoped to get accomplished. The end of the retreat can close with a forum to review and reflect on the day’s events. People can be recognized for contributing, so everyone feels proud of what they’ve done.
Get a Keynote Speaker
To further make the company event special, hire a speaker who is knowledgeable about whatever it is you want to work on. Seek out someone outside of the workforce to give everyone a difference perspective from what they’re used to.
Related: The 18 Most Influential People in Project Management
Best Locations for Company Retreats
Depending on the size of your company and the budget allocated to its retreats, locations for the event might be an afternoon at a local restaurant or a weekend in some exotic destination. Sites close to home are already on your radar, so as a final tease to get corporations into the retreat swing of things, we’ve assembled a variety of dream journeys. Think of them as aspirational, but if you can get to one, it’ll be a company retreat that will provide dividends for years. We limited our search to North America, but there are great locations around the globe.
Zuma Sanctuary, Malibu, Calif.
Just above the Pacific Ocean, nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains, in the famous Southern California colony of Malibu is a paradise of palm trees, cool breezes and breathtaking vistas. Visitors can stay in spacious tents or vintage Airstreams, both just a short walk to many of the secluded beaches of Malibu. There’s an outdoor shower, barbecue deck, hammock deck and yoga zone for a variety of different team building and meditative exercises. If you’re looking to getaway into a natural setting that only a short drive from the metropolitan hustle and bustle of Santa Monica, this is your moment of Zen.
Hermitage Farm, Goshin, Ky.
This southern destination offers a vastly different experience. Kentucky is known for bluegrass, horses and, of course, bourbon. You can enjoy all three at one of the state’s revered horse farms, Hermitage Farm. It’s open to the public for events. Accommodations give visitors an authentic Kentucky experience of staying on a working horse farm, built in 1835 and fully renovated by its new owners in 2010, with modern amenities.
The Ranch at Rock Creek, Philipsburg, Mont.
Montana is some of the most majestic landscape in the Americas. The 6,600-acre Ranch at Rock Creek is nestled within this beautiful country and offers an inclusive company retreat. Luxurious and roughing it meet in this site when group activities can be customized or handled by the staff. There are 29 one-of-a-kind accommodations with 38 private bedrooms all in the Rock Creek Valley, where team building and privacy are both respected. With locally sourced cuisine, and 20 year-round activities with guides and gear, they’ll be plenty to enjoy. Activities include a rope course, geocaching, bowling and a saloon with billiards, table tennis, shuffleboard, karaoke, movie theater, board games, shuffleboard and darts.
Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Space, Stowe, Vt.
The final stop on our four-corners of the United States tour lands us in the northeast of Vermont and the Stoweflake Mountain Resort. For more than 50 years the Baraw family has owned and operated this Vermont treasure, which offers local cooking classes, meditation sessions and dog sledding excursions. Beyond the resort and spa are side trips to a local glassblowing studio and a tasting visit to Ben & Jerry’s. Set against a backdrop of mountains and gardens, guests can stay at spacious suites or private townhouses. There are activities for every season, but visitors who come in the winter can go to the nearby Mt. Mansfield to explore trains by snowshoe, cross country skiing or Nordic walking.
Once you’ve returned from your company retreat refreshed and motivated to get back to work, make sure that you have the tools to take advantage of the enthusiasm. ProjectManager.com is a cloud-based project management software that boost productivity and fosters collaboration. Plan, monitor and report with online Gantt charts, kanban boards and a real-time dashboard. Try it today with this free 30-day trial.
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