Engaging Virtual Retreats for Remote Teams: Plus 15+ Tips on How To Host One

virtual retreat for business people online man sitting at desktop on video call

Are you wondering how to connect and unite your employees in remote areas?

Virtual retreats are one of the most reliable means to bring your employees together.

Most companies now have remote teams or workforce working virtually. Some are global organizations with workers distributed across the globe.

For increased productivity and company culture, regular meetings are crucial for all businesses. They cultivate a sense of engagement, cooperation and foster human connections.

This post provides you with excellent strategies for developing a meaningful remote retreat.

What is a Virtual Retreat?

A virtual team retreat is an online event where employees come together for online team building activities to re-energize, socialize, and relax.

Virtual retreats are completely online virtual events via video conferencing software, unlike in-person retreats typically held in conventions, hotels, or resorts.

Why Should You Hold a Virtual Team Retreat?

Virtual retreats are essential in bringing remote workers together. The retreat also breaks the monotony of the regular working routine into fun-filled events. Team members can relax and focus on team building and how to work better.

So, why would an organization hold a virtual retreat?

  • To accommodate remote workers
  • To unite a global team
  • To save on accommodation travel expenses
  • To offer a variety of activities
  • In situations where the retreat runs for an extended period
  • Because meeting in person and physical retreats are not advisable due to restrictions

However, not all businesses host retreats due to the same reasons. Some prefer virtual team retreats because they are flexible and convenient, making them more engaging.

Why Virtual Team Retreats Make Sense for Remote Employees

Virtual team retreats are ideal for remote employees to foster strong relationships with their colleagues. Since there is no physical presence of all participants at the retreat location, it helps people feel more at ease and comfortable to express themselves. Virtual retreats are more engaging because they build relationships, especially when individuals come from different backgrounds.

When you hold a virtual retreat, people can share their experiences openly without inhibitions or fear of judgment.

Virtual team retreats also spread awareness about what is happening in the company.

What Do You Do in Virtual Retreats?

Apart from the core discussions that you may have about your organization’s progress, other team-building activities enhance retreats. Some virtual team retreat activities you may want to indulge in are:

Employee Wellness Sessions

You can design an activity whereby participants perform a workout session at their homes led virtually by an expert. It could be yoga or stretching.

Bingo

Bingo is a captivating idea for a retreat. When done throughout the entire retreat as an ongoing game, virtual retreat bingo can be a lot of fun. Think of it as a party game or an icebreaker.

Icebreaker Virtual Escape Rooms

Escape rooms are popular activities at physical retreats but can be done virtually. Virtual rooms are organized for participants to work in groups to solve clues and puzzles.

Fun Virtual Problem Solving Competitions

Problem-solving activities are great team-building exercises that help teams compete to strengthen their relationships by working together in resolving the tasks well.

Virtual retreat competitions can include fun, humor, or unusual elements, depending on your organization’s comfort.

Virtual retreats are effective in bringing about changes in individuals, teams, and the entire company.

Meal Gift Cards

Meal gift cards are a major draw for team members, whether for virtual or in-person retreats. Offer to virtually award participants with the gift cards. They can have food delivered to them then eat online during the retreat.

Awards Show

Come up with an awards program for the best virtual retreat ideas just for fun. You may offer rewards to smartly dressed members, best hairdo, best drawing, among others.

You can also combine clever ideas such as the funniest joke, face, or best remote work location during a video call.

There are several in-person company retreat activities that you can easily convert into virtual activities. They include:

  • Group photos – Take photos as a group and use them for promotional purposes for future retreats. Photos can also be used to mark attendance or as a way to connect with guests.
  • Murder mystery – You can role-play the sleuth, suspect, or deceased. It will be fun for everyone in the retreat.
  • Dance – Dancing is a perfect way to shed off stress and re-energize after long periods of work.
  • Go for field trips – You can virtually visit a museum or any other attraction site as a team.
  • Scavenger Hunt – Virtual scavenger hunts are exciting virtual retreat ideas. You can creatively distribute clues that participants must find or answer, and everyone can play no matter where they are.
  • Family Feud – Bring the popular TV Show to life in your very own edition of Family Feud. Designate your Steve Harvey, and either play the free online version or create your own.

How Do You Organize a Virtual Team Retreat?

When done thoughtfully, a virtual retreat is not only a fantastic way to promote team building but can also be beneficial to the organization. The following guidelines will be helpful when you plan to hold one.

Outline your plan

Team members should know what to expect throughout the retreat. Provide a timeline for events and maybe speakers.

Welcoming participants

It is essential to kick off the meeting with a welcome note. Open the forum by entertaining the members and welcoming questions. Make members feel welcomed, comfortable, and at ease.

Acknowledge that it’s usual that there may be kids interrupting or background noise, among other everyday scenarios at their end.

Virtual Icebreakers

You will need virtual icebreakers like fun activities or quick games to keep the participant lively. If you have one that will make team members get to know each other, start with that.

Core discussions  

Depending on the objective of the retreat, it may help to come up with questions that involve your overall goal. Provide the participants with the questions before the start of the session. The questions will help them prepare. 

For maximum input from members, you can pick an energetic host to lead the discussion. 

Intermission

Allow participants to stretch or go for a drink to break the monotony of listening. Members can’t concentrate for unlimited periods. It’s crucial to have a time-out for a lunch or dinner break.

Feedback

Create time for reflection at the end of the day before you conclude the day’s events.

Encourage a brainstorming session about the day’s discussions.

Have members share their takeaways and any concern that needs addressing to better the next day’s events. And follow-up where necessary.

Closing

Before the retreat host appreciates the members, provide participants time to express their gratitude for the day’s events. Ask participants what they liked about the retreat. The team’s leader can also speak on their behalf to express his appreciation.

How Do You Run a Successful Virtual Retreat?

Crowdsource planning

When planning your first virtual retreat, your team members have the best ideas on what to do during the retreat.

Arrange a brainstorming session during which members will express their expected outcomes from the meeting. Afterward, align your plans to the needs of the team members.

Outline your expectations

Draft what you expect every participant to learn or achieve by the end of the retreat. Set the goals so that participants are prepared and ready for the experience. Objectives will also keep members in check during the retreat.

Frame your program thoughtfully

Ensure you outline your activities to involve everyone at a productive level. Be sure to consider all elements, including time zones, to accommodate everyone.

Most remote teams have workers in different time zones. A virtual event whose members are in other parts of the globe may lack flexibility with the timing, so be prepared.

Also, select activities that every member can adapt to quickly.

Review the frequency of the retreats

Examine the efficiency of the retreats for your remote team and consider how often you need to have the retreats.

It could be quarterly, bi-annually, or annually. If the retreats positively impact you, you may increase the frequency, e.g., quarterly from yearly.

Also, if you have fewer constraints that call for virtual retreats, you can adopt an in-person physicalteam-building retreat instead.

Involve everyone

Retreats should involve everyone and should not discriminate. Because most remote teams are located across many nations, towns, and even the globe, selecting activities to get all members involved and appreciated.

Mix between doing things in a different order and doing contemporary activities. This way, all participants can join in.

Plan activities for small groups

When planning, it will help if you use smaller groups because they are more productive for relationship-building. Smaller groups are efficient to reach out to, unlike larger ones where team members can feel alienated.

What Are the Challenges of Hosting a Virtual Team Retreat?

Differences in Time Zones

When you have team members in different parts of the world, you may have a challenge deciding the exact time to accommodate all the members.

Video-call fatigue

When participants spend too much time on video conferencing, they become bored. They are less likely to brainstorm with team members.

Plan your retreat in such a way that all participants are fully engaged throughout the meeting.

Non-focus environment

It’s challenging to keep the whole team focused throughout the sessions in a virtual retreat, unlike in an in-person retreat.

In virtual meetings, team members face many distractions. As a result, there is less energy and input in group discussions.

Ready to Host Your First Virtual Retreat?

Although there’s no perfect way to run a virtual retreat, the above guidelines will help you.

Holding virtual retreats is convenient, cost-efficient, and time-saving. If you follow a procedure, having retreats shouldn’t be a problem. Isn’t it time you tried your virtual retreat?

Are you wondering how to connect and unite your employees in remote areas?

Virtual retreats are one of the most reliable means to bring your employees together.

Most companies now have remote teams or workforce working virtually. Some are global organizations with workers distributed across the globe.

For increased productivity and company culture, regular meetings are crucial for all businesses. They cultivate a sense of engagement, cooperation and foster human connections.

This post provides you with excellent strategies for developing a meaningful remote retreat.

What is a Virtual Retreat?

A virtual team retreat is an online event where employees come together for online team building activities, to re-energize, socialize, and relax.

Virtual retreats are completely online virtual events via video conferencing software, unlike in-person retreats typically held in conventions, hotels, or resorts.

Why Should You Hold a Virtual Team Retreat?

Virtual retreats are essential in bringing remote workers together. The retreat also breaks the monotony of the regular working routine into fun-filled events. Team members can relax and focus on team building and how to work better.

So, why would an organization hold a virtual retreat?

  • To accommodate remote workers
  • To unite a global team
  • To save on accommodation travel expenses
  • To offer a variety of activities
  • In situations where the retreat runs for an extended period
  • Because meeting in person and physical retreats are not advisable due to restrictions

However, not all businesses host retreats due to the same reasons. Some prefer virtual team retreats because they are flexible and convenient, making them more engaging.

Why Virtual Team Retreats Make Sense for Remote Employees

Virtual team retreats are ideal for remote employees to foster strong relationships with their colleagues. Since there is no physical presence of all participants at the retreat location, it helps people feel more at ease and comfortable to express themselves. Virtual retreats are more engaging because they build relationships, especially when individuals come from different backgrounds.

When you hold a virtual retreat, people can share their experiences openly without inhibitions or fear of judgment.

Virtual team retreats also spread awareness about what is happening in the company.

What Do You Do in Virtual Retreats?

Apart from the core discussions that you may have about your organization’s progress, other team-building activities enhance retreats. Some virtual team retreat activities you may want to indulge in are:

Employee Wellness Sessions

You can design an activity whereby participants perform a workout session at their homes led virtually by an expert. It could be yoga or stretching.

Bingo

Bingo is a captivating idea for a retreat. When done throughout the entire retreat as an ongoing game, virtual retreat bingo can be a lot of fun. Think of it as a party game or an icebreaker.

Icebreaker Virtual Escape Rooms

Escape rooms are popular activities at physical retreats but can be done virtually. Virtual rooms are organized for participants to work in groups to solve clues and puzzles.

Fun Virtual Problem Solving Competitions

Problem-solving activities are great team-building exercises that help teams compete to strengthen their relationships by working together in resolving the tasks well.

Virtual retreat competitions can include fun, humor, or unusual elements, depending on your organization’s comfort.

Virtual retreats are effective in bringing about changes in individuals, teams, and the entire company.

Meal Gift Cards

Meal gift cards are a major draw for team members, whether for virtual or in-person retreats. Offer to virtually award participants with the gift cards. They can have food delivered to them then eat online during the retreat.

Awards Show

Come up with an awards program for the best virtual retreat ideas just for fun. You may offer rewards to smartly dressed members, best hairdo, best drawing, among others.

You can also combine clever ideas such as the funniest joke, face, or best remote work location during a video call.

There are several in-person company retreat activities that you can easily convert into virtual activities. They include:

  • Group photos – Take photos as a group and use them for promotional purposes for future retreats. Photos can also be used to mark attendance or as a way to connect with guests.
  • Murder mystery – You can role-play the sleuth, suspect, or deceased. It will be fun for everyone in the retreat.
  • Dance – Dancing is a perfect way to shed off stress and re-energize after long periods of work.
  • Go for field trips – You can virtually visit a museum or any other attraction site as a team.
  • Scavenger Hunt – Virtual scavenger hunts are exciting virtual retreat ideas. You can creatively distribute clues that participants must find or answer, and everyone can play no matter where they are.
  • Family Feud – Bring the popular TV Show to life in your very own edition of Family Feud. Designate your Steve Harvey, and either play the free online version or create your own.

How Do You Organize a Virtual Team Retreat?

When done thoughtfully, a virtual retreat is not only a fantastic way to promote team building but can also be beneficial to the organization. The following guidelines will be helpful when you plan to hold one.

Outline your plan

Team members should know what to expect throughout the retreat. Provide a timeline for events and maybe speakers.

Welcoming participants

It is essential to kick off the meeting with a welcome note. Open the forum by entertaining the members and welcoming questions. Make members feel welcomed, comfortable, and at ease.

Acknowledge that it’s usual that there may be kids interrupting or background noise, among other everyday scenarios at their end.

Virtual Icebreakers

You will need virtual icebreakers like fun activities or quick games to keep the participant lively. If you have one that will make team members get to know each other, start with that.

Core discussions  

Depending on the objective of the retreat, it may help to come up with questions that involve your overall goal. Provide the participants with the questions before the start of the session. The questions will help them prepare. 

For maximum input from members, you can pick an energetic host to lead the discussion. 

Intermission

Allow participants to stretch or go for a drink to break the monotony of listening. Members can’t concentrate for unlimited periods. It’s crucial to have a time-out for a lunch or dinner break.

Feedback

Create time for reflection at the end of the day before you conclude the day’s events.

Encourage a brainstorming session about the day’s discussions.

Have members share their takeaways and any concern that needs addressing to better the next day’s events. And follow-up where necessary.

Closing

Before the retreat host appreciates the members, provide participants time to express their gratitude for the day’s events. Ask participants what they liked about the retreat. The team’s leader can also speak on their behalf to express his appreciation.

How Do You Run a Successful Virtual Retreat?

Crowdsource planning

When planning your first virtual retreat, your team members have the best ideas on what to do during the retreat.

Arrange a brainstorming session during which members will express their expected outcomes from the meeting. Afterward, align your plans to the needs of the team members.

Outline your expectations

Draft what you expect every participant to learn or achieve by the end of the retreat. Set the goals so that participants are prepared and ready for the experience. Objectives will also keep members in check during the retreat.

Frame your program thoughtfully

Ensure you outline your activities to involve everyone at a productive level. Be sure to consider all elements, including time zones, to accommodate everyone.

Most remote teams have workers in different time zones. A virtual event whose members are in other parts of the globe may lack flexibility with the timing, so be prepared.

Also, select activities that every member can adapt to quickly.

Review the frequency of the retreats

Examine the efficiency of the retreats for your remote team and consider how often you need to have the retreats.

It could be quarterly, bi-annually, or annually. If the retreats positively impact you, you may increase the frequency, e.g., quarterly from yearly.

Also, if you have fewer constraints that call for virtual retreats, you can adopt a physical in-person retreat instead.

Involve everyone

Retreats should involve everyone and should not discriminate. Because most remote teams are located across many nations, towns, and even the globe, selecting activities to get all members involved and appreciated.

Mix between doing things in a different order and doing contemporary activities. This way, all participants can join in.

Plan activities for small groups

When planning, it will help if you use smaller groups because they are more productive for relationship-building. Smaller groups are efficient to reach out to, unlike larger ones where team members can feel alienated.

What Are the Challenges of Hosting a Virtual Team Retreat?

Differences in Time Zones

When you have team members in different parts of the world, you may have a challenge deciding the exact time to accommodate all the members.

Video-call fatigue

When participants spend too much time on video conferencing, they become bored. They are less likely to brainstorm with team members.

Plan your retreat in such a way that all participants are fully engaged throughout the meeting.

Non-focus environment

It’s challenging to keep the whole team focused throughout the sessions in a virtual retreat, unlike in an in-person retreat.

In virtual meetings, team members face many distractions. As a result, there is less energy and input in group discussions.

Ready to Host Your First Virtual Retreat?

Although there’s no perfect way to run a virtual retreat, the above guidelines will help you.

Holding virtual retreats is convenient, cost-efficient, and time-saving. If you follow a procedure, having retreats shouldn’t be a problem. Isn’t it time you tried your virtual retreat?