Helpful tips for your team retreat

A team retreat is useful in several ways.

  • It provides an opportunity for your team to develop and grow outside of office confines.
  • As a business leader, you will be able to form better relationships with your team.
  • Having some downtime away from the office will give you all some rest.
  • Should the retreat be a success, the effect is a happier workplace on return.

So, should you be planning a team retreat – and considering the benefits mentioned above, you really should – we have some tips to help you.

Choose your location carefully

Many businesses book their team into a hotel, while others rough it in the great outdoors. There are pros and cons to each. A hotel offers luxury and has often has designated meeting spaces for guest speakers and training sessions. However, it is also expensive. Camping, on the other hand, is cheap and offers great scope for team building (working on putting up a tent is a start). The great outdoors is your meeting space, but a marquee will also be needed should the weather turn nasty. And, depending on specific team needs, camping may not be for everybody. Talk to your team, look at your budget, and then consider what would be most suitable for what you want to achieve at your retreat.

Use your time productively

Here’s what a team retreat isn’t. It’s not a time for everybody to let their hair down, partying on until the early hours of the morning. It’s also not a time to work your team to the bone, no matter how many team-building activities you want to get through. It’s a time for both.

In the daytime, have room for those team-building activities. Hire a guest speaker if appropriate; that person who can bring a new perspective to your business, with training and guidance. Plan time to discuss prevailing issues within your business, and use the time outside of office confines to solve any challenges your business faces. Some of these challenges may lie within the team themselves, and while your activities may bring your team closer together anyway, you might also use this ‘informal’ time to get to the bottom of specific issues and disputes. Then think of new ideas for your business, giving each member of your team the opportunity to participate in discussions.

In the evening, plan time to relax. Don’t forget the joys of eating and drinking, be that in the hotel with a glass of wine and a booked meal, or in the wilds, armed with an insulated beer growler and a self-packed buffet. Talk with each other about non-work matters. Engage in banter and have a laugh. Utilise the power of fun and play a few games, or go for a walk in any place of scenic beauty. While you will have planned for team growth in your daytime activities, it’s the downtime that will achieve the best bonding opportunities. When conversation isn’t forced, and when the atmosphere doesn’t feel like work, your team will relax and bond in each other’s company in ways they may not always have time for.

Finally

The retreat will provide scope for new thought, ideas, and happy memories. When you get back to the office space, make time to utilise on what you have all learned with a debriefing session. Should any new ideas have arisen during your time away, plan to implement them before they are forgotten. And then plan your next retreat, giving your team something to look forward to in the months to come. Assuming your retreat was productive and accommodating for everybody, nobody will start complaining when you put it in the calendar.

Photo by David Clode

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Christine Buske is a former academic who left science at the bench, and now considers herself a woman in tech. She is a frequently invited speaker, and enjoys talking about career transformation (particularly leaving academia for the business world), tech, issues around women in tech, product management, agile, and outreach. She is a proud Canadian resident, and qualifies as a "serial expat".

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