By Syed Balkhi, founder of WPBeginner.
There's an obvious appeal when it comes to the benefits of a remote workforce, like low overhead and the ability to hire the best talents without geographical restrictions. But you’ll also encounter a unique set of challenges when building a remote company. There’s something really special when the whole team gets together under one roof to brainstorm, relax and socialize, and this is why conducting corporate retreats is vital for remote companies.
Although we use several tools to communicate with our team while we work, there are some things that happen better in person. An annual retreat is the best way to meet your whole team in person. Plus, it’s a lot of fun.
We try to get our whole team together for a company retreat once every year. Last year, we all met in Orlando for a week and brainstormed some great feature ideas that we've since been able to implement into our products.
If your remote team is in need of some personal connection, here are five simple steps to plan your next corporate retreat.
Define Your Goals
It’s imperative to know what you want to accomplish with your retreat. At my company, we conduct retreats on an annual basis to relax and connect with our team members in person.
Possible goals for your retreat might be to break down department silos and get to know each other, establish trust through thoughtful conversations or review goals and plan for success. Identify your goals before you begin to plan your company's retreat in order to get the most out of the experience with your team.
Estimate Your Budget
Conducting a retreat doesn’t have to break the bank. You can start planning your retreat by making a list of essential factors, like accommodations, meals and transportation. This doesn’t mean that you’ll have to nail everything down while planning, but you must have an idea of how much you can afford to spend.
Once you have a plan, estimate your budget and analyze the areas where you can afford to cut costs. Then tally it up to make sure that everything is within your budget and revise the plan until it works.
When you account for retention and increased company culture, you'll find that the cost of the retreat can be justified as a contributing factor to your team's success. If you have a relatively small team, you can do what we have done in the past and rent a large house. This not only cuts down on cost -- it also helps increase face time with your team.
Choose the Right Location
When it comes to deciding on a location for your company's retreat, it is important to choose a place that enables your team to build as a unit and to relax and recharge. It’s always better to find destinations near major airports. Make sure it is somewhere quiet and easy for your teammates to get to so they feel more relaxed.
I’m always tempted to choose a location somewhere in the Caribbean or in South America, but it’s easier for us to have it in the U.S. because most of our team members are U.S. residents. All we need to do is submit the visa application for our international team members.
Choose a Variety of Leisure Activities
Without thoughtful planning, your company retreat can overwhelm your teammates, leaving them annoyed and unproductive. A productive retreat needs to be balanced with meaningful work time, plenty of free time and a variety of leisure activities that are memorable and fun. These activities serve to strengthen your team's bond and hopefully help build friendships within the organization.
At our past retreats, we have rented Jet Skis, played minigolf, held pool tournaments and cornhole competitions, and played Catan (we love Settlers). Other activities to build teamwork and add fun to your retreat include interacting with one another while kart racing and participating in water sports like kayaking.
As a growing, remote company, you might want to plan annual retreats. To make sure your company's retreats keep getting better, learn from your experiences and ask your team for feedback. Find out what they liked best and what could be improved, how they felt about the location and number of days and if they have any suggestions for future retreats.
Conducting a retreat is essential for remote employees to get to know each other and for team members to break department silos. By following the above methods, you can plan a memorable company experience.
Syed Balkhi is the founder of WPBeginner, the largest free WordPress resource site that helps small businesses start their website.