5 Ways to Plan a Virtual Retreat for Your Team

virtual retreat

If we have learned this year, it’s that business owners are resilient. Both small businesses and corporations have successfully transitioned to remote work and proven to rise above global challenges. 

However, something that is falling at the wayside is team building. While it may have been easy to schedule some fun events for your staff when everyone was coming into work, it’s a lot more difficult to gather the group together without a central office. 

But that doesn’t mean training and team bonding should become less of a priority. If anything, now is the time to strengthen your team more than ever before. And there are several ways you can do this remotely.

Here are some ways that you can develop a successful virtual team-building retreat. 

1) Embrace Digital Options

This may seem obvious, but do not look at the virtual world as a limitation. Instead, think of how it can let you tap into new and exciting options. The goal is not to replicate an in-person retreat online but create a new format and experience with digital tools.

So, your retreat should not just be one long screen share. Instead, try emailing instructions in advance, so the team can print and follow along. Use interactive video elements to break up the monotony and encourage discussion.

2) Outsource Key Presenters 

Take the pressure off your shoulders to lead the event. Instead, bring in external speakers to deliver the message in a new way.

You are not limited to traditional lecture-style presenters! Spice up your events with a magician from this site, or hire a comedian to make everyone laugh. Your team will appreciate the effort you put in to make the event non-traditional and entertaining. I

3) Use Exercises, Not Lectures

Of course, a retreat has to have some good team-building exercises! This portion should not be treated as an obligatory check-box but rather as an area to focus on as a team. 

For example, if your team wants to build communication, try focusing on feedback through virtual improvisational scenarios. If wellness and mental health is the goal, look to guided meditation or yoga.  

4) Have Clear Expectations and a Mission 

Your employees may groan and roll their eyes when the email about a retreat hits their inbox. You have to battle Zoom fatigue and notions on forced bonding in planning this event. To do this, set clear goals for your planning process and share them with your team. Let them know you are trying to help them and get them invested in the process. Give them an extra incentive to participate, like reduced work hours for the day.

Having clear expectations also include communicating the structure and timeline. Just as you have expectations for your team, let them know what they can expect from you. By showing them that you value their time and are using it effectively, you stand a better chance of keeping them engaged.

5) Utilize Smaller Groups 

If you have a large group, break it down into smaller groups. These are more effective for solid relationship building and is a way for you to put people together who may not normally interact. 

For example, if your employees are usually separated by team, you can mix and match people. Small groups are also good spaces for quieter employees who are easily overlooked in large groups.

Bonus Tip: Keep the Momentum Going 

Solid team-building relies on consistent effort to maintain that remote culture. While there is no perfect formula yet, these tips are a good way to foster connections in the virtual world.

As a bonus tip, keep in mind that a good virtual retreat requires some good momentum. You want to maintain momentum from start to finish and even after. If you have a smashing success of a retreat, keep it going!  No, we don’t mean a never-ending retreat. Rather, try to maintain this cultural base you have started with social opportunities and smaller team-building events. If something was a smash hit, like the virtual magician, wait a few months and bring that part back for round two.