For years and years, company retreats have been used by businesses to allow their employees a chance to relax, recharge, and build relationships with others while still being in a professional environment.
With remote work being the new normality, those retreats have moved online. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept and need virtual retreat ideas, we’ve got your back!
Luckily, there are many great virtual retreat ideas for managers who want to explore new ways of bonding and working together!
From challenges to games to virtual gateways, we’ll explore in this blog post 5 virtual retreats ideas that can help you get started with your own company retreat and bring out the best in your team, without ever having to leave your desk!
What Exactly Are Virtual Retreats?
A virtual company retreat is a company-wide virtual event that helps employees disconnect from their day-to-day work to reconnect with their peers.
For a day or more, employees will mainly take a break from their tasks and focus on socializing and building relationships with others. In some teams, it happens that a company project is included in the mix, but it shouldn’t be the only focus of the event.
Virtual retreats can be used to help managers improve workplace culture, redefine the company’s vision, bring people together, and boost morale.
How do you do a virtual retreat?
In a classical business in-person retreat, teams would usually meet outside the office while keeping a professional atmosphere. For a virtual team retreat, the event fully takes place online, through video conferencing.
Throughout the day(s), they can include different activities, games, conferences, shows, and more to motivate participants to take part in the discussion, and ultimately to bond with their teammates.
How do you make a virtual retreat fun?
The best virtual retreats are the ones that are fun, collaborative, and dynamic! Trust us, you don’t want your group to be bored since minute #1 of your event, or else it will be a veryyyy long retreat.
If you wish to make virtual retreat ideas fun, make sure to add some games, fun activities, and challenges to the mix. We all are a bit of a competitor at heart. So who doesn’t like a fun trivia session, a crazy awards show, or a Bingo game to spice things up?
What are retreat activities?
Whereas in a company in-person retreat, there is almost no limit on what you can do (campfire, pool party, hike, camping, visits, office Olympics, fun games, etc.), for a virtual retreat, you have to keep it in the digital world.
While hosting a virtual retreat, you could then think of online team-building activities, games, conferences, virtual visits, art and craft sessions, and others. Keep reading to get more ideas!
The Benefits of a Virtual Team Retreat for Work-Life
In the age of technology, it’s easy to get consumed by emails and work from home. This can lead to a lack of communication with coworkers, an overstimulated mind, and a feeling of isolation.
Virtual Retreats are an amazing way for a remote team to stay connected, and to overcome those issues, without leaving their homes or offices!
So let’s see how virtual team retreats are good for the company and employees:
Take a step back from work
Virtual retreats are a great way to get away from the day-to-day work life and breathe some fresh air for once. Always rolled up in our massive list of emails that we haven’t answered yet, or in that project that is due in three days, days fly so fast, that we don’t always have the chance to disconnect from the virtual world and take a break.
Recharge your batteries, get inspired again! Retreats can help take breaks when your team is working hard – before it becomes counterproductive – while staying connected with co-workers at all times.
Gather people spread around the country or the world
Organize retreats to help your team feel connected, even if they are based in multiple locations. Trust us, nothing is worse than feeling like you’re not part of the group or that people don’t think of you as their peer because you’re always working from home or from other time zones!
Take part in virtual retreats to meet new colleagues, talk to the ones that are living abroad, and bond with those that you never have the chance to see!
Enhance company culture
Remote teams are agile and easy to set up, but company culture can be hard to maintain when they don’t come as much to the office.
That’s why team retreats could help your group feel like they’re still part of the same team and re-enhance the company culture. It’s a great opportunity to remind the team of company goals, values, and philosophy!
Help collaborative work and work social life
Ultimately, team retreats are made to help your remote team feel like they’re part of a bigger group and try to make them more involved in their work lives. This type of event can really help people to open up and get to know each other more intimately, to actually go beyond work relationships.
Now that we all agree retreats are just a must in our virtual life, let’s see some great virtual retreat ideas you can pick to organize your own retreat.
Workshop Style Virtual Retreat Ideas
Let’s start with the more serious ideas! Like we stated before, a company retreat can be an opportunity to work collaboratively on side projects – as long as it isn’t the only purpose and activity of the event.
Pro tip: If you decide to pick some workshop ideas for your own retreat, make sure to combine them with other fun activities and games!
1. Brainstorming Session
Brainstorming sessions are one of the great virtual retreat ideas for remote teams that need to get on the same page about a new product, project, and collaboration.
They could be especially useful if your team is located in multiple locations, and you want them all to meet and work together on a new idea from scratch!
Workshops can help motivate discussion and collaborative work among participants, too.
2. Bring in speakers via webinar
Who says virtual retreats have to be one-dimensional? Why not bring in speakers via video conferencing, so your group can learn from them at the same time you both work together!
With those seminar-like meetings, you might inspire participants to broaden their knowledge, acquire new skills, or think differently.
Pro tip: Bring a new perspective to your remote team and work routine by involving speakers that are not directly related to the business of your company.
3. Bring in specialized coaches
Did you think about giving a chance for your team to develop new skills? Coaching can be an amazing idea for your retreat if participants are open to learning about new topics related to work-life, but still fun.
You could choose to coach yourself if you’re up to it or bring in someone from the outside who is specialized in a particular area you’re looking to master.
Think about coaching in artificial intelligence, design thinking, coding, drawing, new language, stress management, personal development… the list goes on!
Gateways Virtual Retreat Ideas
Take virtual team retreats to a whole new level by organizing virtual tours around the world! You could set up virtual tours to talk about famous landmarks, museums, and stunning destinations – all from your desk. Everyone will surely be excited about this one.
1. Virtual Field Trip
Plan a “virtual” field trip with team members in Paris with Woyago! Let a local guide you through the streets of the City of Lights and discover this emblematic city like never before.
2. Organize a typical lunch or dinner
Invite all of your participants with a typical meal of the destination you chose for your virtual retreat. Tacos for Mexican treats, think sushi if you set up a Japanese theme, or send a food basket for a French picnic with pastries, cheese, and wines with Woyago’s help!
3. Discover a local activity together
To make your virtual retreat even more fun, organize some hands-on typical activities from the destination of your retreat’s theme.
Based on the same destinations as above, ideas could be to learn how to cook a tortilla dough by hand with a local Mayan woman, how to conduct a Japanese tea ceremony, or how to sing La Vie en Rose with a French vocal coach.
Pro tip: If they need any material for this activity, make sure you send them what’s needed beforehand or that it is something they can easily find at home!
Dynamic and Sportive Virtual Retreat Ideas
1. Yoga and Meditation
These virtual retreat ideas for remote work teams can be very relaxing and also help everyone improve their focus and their overall health.
You could give your virtual retreat a meditating side by including some Yoga classes with an instructor or even make it the main focus of the retreat with several introductions to the different types of Yoga, breathing, meditating, detoxing food or drinks, and more.
2. Dance Company Retreat
For a dynamic virtual retreat, organize a dance theme! You’ll be surprised how much fun a virtual team retreat can become when you get to know each other in a more personal manner and share a great time together, even through cameras!
Hire a choreographer/coach to help you guide through this online event and organize different dances sessions in between other talks, team-building activities, or games to build up altogether with a dance masterpiece.
Pro tip: At the end of the event, make sure to record a representation of the routine and check for a video montage of all webcam shots. Send it to your teams so that it can remain a great memory for all!
3. Virtual Awards Show
What virtual retreat wouldn’t become a little more fun if there was an award ceremony involved?
You could organize several categories to recognize your team members. Singing, Dancing, Gymnastics, Painting, One-man show, Music talent and more… The sky’s the limit!
Pro tip: Think about sending an actual award afterward to the winner.
Games and Challenges Virtual Retreat Ideas
1. Virtual Bingo
For a classical team retreat game, think about a virtual Bingo session!
Set up a Bingo about your team members and their different skills, physical or personal characteristics. It will allow your virtual team members to have fun while learning more about each other during the different chat sessions.
Ran a marathon, appeared on TV, has a tattoo, is trilingual… Creativity is key to setting up your Bingo, but you’ll see how much you can learn from your colleagues!
2. Virtual Escape Game
Have you ever tried to play an Escape Game? Requiring critical thinking, teamwork, and planning skills, you have to collaborate in small teams and investigate enigmas in a specific theme or setting.
You usually have only 60 minutes to find the key, password, or answer. Virtualized, escape games can be made possible thanks to different solutions or software, but trust us it’s worth it!
So… On your clues, get set, go!
3. Virtual Murder Mystery
If you’re into escape games, virtual murders will be right up your alley too.
Organize a virtualized murder mystery parties throughout your virtual retreat experience to make things more fun! Make sure the teams will use their brains and make them believe for a day that they are actually at the crime scene!
Because Trivia night is the answer to everything! Use this game where participants will try to guess the answer faster than their peers while making them share a great time.
Pro tip: Make sure that you don’t only test their knowledge, but also insert some fun questions!
Virtual Retreat Ideas and tips for your own Team Retreat
Now that you picked some ideas from above, and that you’re determined to organize your virtual retreat for your company or your team, we gathered here our last tips for perfect execution!
Define a clear objective
Set one or several clear goals for your virtual retreat. Do you want your teams to communicate better with each other? To get to know each other? To meet the newbies? To present a company project?…
Knowing what you’re aiming for can help you decide on which virtual retreat ideas to pick.
Include team suggestions
Coordinate with your employees beforehand about what they want from the meeting – and why not even forming a committee?
Do they want brainstorming sessions? A chance to learn more about a new project? An opportunity to work on something together? Just relax and have fun as a group? Understand what they would like to get from the retreat before starting it.
Mix team building activity types
We recommend you mix the activities to optimize learning and fun during your virtual retreat.
For instance, if it is a 2-days virtual retreat, start with an introductory icebreaker, animate with conferences, virtual field trips, and end with a creative activity like an escape game or a murder mystery game for example.
Happily shake things up!
Adapt activities to the size of your team
Remember that virtual retreats still require some logistics. So make sure to adapt the virtual retreat activities you choose to your team size!
For instance, if your team is made of 12 people, an escape game may be too big of a challenge for so many people… Imagine how much more engaged they would have been if they were only 5.
So, if you’re hosting this event for a very large audience, you might want to create smaller groups for them to be able to discuss and engage in several activities, or pick activities that everyone can do simultaneously.
Define an agenda
As simple as this.
Define a clear agenda of your retreat with activities’ details, link to the event, and schedule. Don’t forget to send it to your remote team with time, so they don’t miss any activities.
Mix up the teams and people
Please, mix team members so that they can interact and create relationships with different participants from other departments. Make people meet!
Wear name tags
Like we would do on a classic in-person retreat, invite people to write their name on the screen or when they assist a meeting.
With Zoom, for instance, you have to type down your name when you create your profile or enter a conference. Ask beforehand all participants to write their full name so that newbies can get a better chance at recognizing all team members!
Choose the correct platform
There are many platforms that you can use for your online event. Depending on the number of participants, activities you might want to organize if you need a chat or not, and other different aspects, you’ll want to consider different options.
Zoom, Skype, Google Hangout, Microsoft Teams, and a few examples. Check out more details on our blog post on how to host a successful virtual meeting to know more!
People need breaks! Make sure to have scheduled breaks so that participants can stretch, go get some water or have a walk.
Send gift baskets
It is usually a tradition to have a small gift for retreats – such as a Company Tee-shirt for example.
For a virtual retreat, you could also send gift baskets if that doesn’t come too pricy for your budget! It could be helpful to build excitement towards the retreat and get people more engaged!
Virtual retreats are a fantastic way to bond with your team, learn about new projects or just have fun with colleagues while staying at home.
If you want to host virtual retreats in the future and that you opt for some of those virtual retreat ideas, share with us your experience. We would love to know about your event!