20 Planning Tips and Ideas for Your Company Retreat

A company retreat, whether offsite or at your usual workplace, can bolster productivity and get the creative juices flowing for your team. However, the actual logistics of organizing such a retreat can quickly get overwhelming. You’ll want to plan an ideal mix of work and leisure to make your coworkers excited for the trip, but also ensure that you get some work done.

The tips below can help you organize a successful work retreat that combines fun with focus. A little advanced preparation goes a long way, and being open-minded to new ideas and everybody’s various needs is important. Make sure that you accept input and feedback from employees after your retreats and use their suggestions to improve your trips year after year. That way, you can create an environment so enjoyable that your coworkers will look forward to the next gathering.

Get Organized with Planning

  1. Set Goals Even if the purpose of your retreat is planning for the new year or preparing for a product launch, communicate a vision and goals for your time together. Team building is an important goal for any retreat to grow relationships and promote collaboration during the retreat and beyond.
  2. Get Hyped Try to get your team excited by mentioning the retreat during meetings and in internal communications, featuring a countdown, and teasing fun activities that they’ll be participating in. You can share things like upcoming menus, photos of the venue, or invite them to join a group chat about your upcoming event.
  3. Give Out Goodies If your retreat is going to be local, at your own office space, or even virtual, plan a few surprises in the weeks leading up to the event to spark enthusiasm. Send home gifts like fuzzy slippers or comfy company sweatshirts for virtual meetings. Make things more fun at the office by splitting up employees into teams with their own t-shirts or themed outfit days.
  4. Ask for Input Include representatives from different teams or departments in the planning sessions to help ramp up the anticipation for a retreat. Get input about favorite types of meals, icebreaker ideas, or group activities.
  5. Prioritize Planning Your employees will appreciate receiving the latest details about the retreat well in advance to help them plan appropriately. Send out suggested packing lists, schedules, and a plan of events so they know exactly what to bring. You can also let them know the weather forecast and help coordinate arrival details.
  6. Be Inclusive It’s important to ask about dietary or accessibility needs ahead of time. This way you can avoid any uncomfortable situations where employees feel excluded from meals or activities.
  7. Simplify with Sign Ups Save time by using sign ups to offer registration for retreat events and coordinate any volunteers needed. You can include custom questions to ask about meal preferences or dietary restrictions and set up automatic reminders to send a few days before the event.
  8. Mix It Up During your retreat, plan some activities where you arrange team members into specific groups. This way, employees will get to know people from other departments, and nobody will feel excluded. Shaking things up can get the fresh ideas flowing.
  9. Share the Spotlight Give team members a chance to share their insight and expertise, whether it’s participating in a panel discussion or giving a brief presentation. Depending on the focus and length of the retreat, choose some team members to speak or discuss a topic (decided in advance) that can inform and motivate their colleagues.
Maximize Productivity

  1. Strike a Balance Planning a good balance of work-related and fun activities can keep everybody focused on your goals. Packing the schedule with seminars or group meetings can drain participants’ energy, so mix it up with a few games or activities between sessions.
  2. Get Moving Movement can help spark creativity and give everybody a chance to burn off some stress. Plan easy activities that are fun for everybody without a lot of pressure. For example, a short walk or hike, or a dance or yoga session.
  3. Inspiration Consider bringing in a speaker from outside your business to inspire your team to persevere through challenges and embrace new ideas. Options could include a community leader or someone who has overcome obstacles to achieve success
  4. Empower Leaders Invite high performing team members to serve as leaders during the retreat. They can be assigned different responsibilities to ensure meetings and events run smoothly and people feel welcome and engaged.
  5. Don’t Skimp on Meals As everybody knows, productivity comes to a halt when people are hungry! Considering feedback from your team, plan delicious meals and snacks throughout the retreat. You want your employees thinking about what they’re learning, and not dreaming about lunch.
Keep it Fun

  1. Welcome Dinner You want your retreat to be productive and encourage team members to get to know each other. Hosting a welcome dinner on the first night of an overnight retreat can help break the ice and start on a festive note. Serve a signature drink or offer wine and beer but keep an eye on the liquor tab so things don’t get too boozy. And make sure to have non-alcoholic options available for people who don’t imbibe.
  2. Keep It Flexible Many of your employees will be excited to join in on activities but some can feel like a high-pressure environment for others. Avoid stressful situations like high ropes courses or competitive sports. Instead, try a cooking class, museum tour, or a walk around town. Check in with everyone privately about physical activities ahead of time to ensure that you aren’t putting anybody in an uncomfortable position. And make sure everybody knows that they can opt out of activities.
  3. Avoid Long Bus Rides Nothing kills the mood like a long bus ride to or from an activity, especially when you’re together for a short time. Try to plan for activities that are close to where you are staying or working.
  4. Ice Breakers Plan for some fun icebreaker activities to kick off the event and help everybody loosen up a bit and relieve anxiety. For example, you could have a round of trivia, play two truths and a lie, or compete in a rock paper scissors competition.
  5. Rise and Shine Start the morning off with an activity to help get your creativity flowing and prepare for the day ahead. Consider something like an early morning hike or a sunrise yoga class. Just make sure it’s optional for those employees that would prefer to catch up on some sleep.
  6. Document It Finally, one last tip to make your retreat extra fun is to document it along the way. Take silly photos and make your work trip a lasting memory. And of course, don’t forget the S.W.A.G. (Stuff We All Get). Your employees will love going home with a new water bottle, t-shirt, or towel.
By using these tips and tricks, you can create a work retreat that is just as much fun as it is productive. Finding that perfect balance of work and leisure can ensure that your employees look forward to their retreat year after year. Hopefully, it will give everybody the mental break they need to reinvigorate the workplace and get the creativity flowing.

Kelsey Caldwell is a realtor and freelance writer from Charlotte, NC. She and her husband are parents to two amazing kids, a golden-doodle, and a bearded dragon.