team building retreats: Computer monitor on a table with an open invitation showing on the screen

Company retreats can be an incredibly effective way to connect people and solve challenges together, but they’re not always easy to plan. To help you out, this guide will show you how to plan and host fantastic team building retreats your employees will love. You’ll find planning tips, activity ideas, and our best advice on how to make your retreat more effective than ever.

What Are Team Building Retreats?

Team building retreats are events where you bring together your team (or the whole company) for a few days in one location. It’s an opportunity to step outside your usual work environment and get together, talk business, and also socialize and have fun.

Most corporate retreats last for a few days, with extra time for travel. Typically, the group will stay at a hotel or a house rental with a schedule of activities that mix work, dining, and play. For example, you might head to the mountains for a company retreat and indulge in some skiing and hiking while you plan your company’s future.

Why Team Building Retreats a Great Idea

Company retreats give you the chance to get to know everyone in your team on a deeper level and strengthen bonds among coworkers. You also get to connect with people in different departments. If you work in a remote team, this might be the first time you get to shake someone’s hand or give them a high-five.

Team building retreats aren’t just for relaxing, though — they also give you space to discuss big plans. You can plan a hackathon to design a new product or tackle a work challenge, or host an “unconference” to discuss problems and come up with fresh ideas. Company retreats can often help you find that breakthrough you need to head in a new direction or bring new enthusiasm to what you do.

How to Plan Amazing Corporate Retreats

team building retreats: Smiling group of people forming a circle and joining their hands together in the middle

Ready to get planning? Here’s our best advice on how to plan an effective team building retreat for your company.

Set a Goal

Think about what you want to achieve with your team building retreat. What’s your overall goal? Let the answer to this question guide your budget, location, agenda, and all the finer details.

If your goal is to explore a new direction for the company, schedule plenty of time to make this happen. Plan a hackathon, schedule meetings, and create moments where different departments can talk to each other about challenges and ideas.

If you want to lean more on developing cross-department teamwork or your company culture, plan for more fun activities. Plan icebreaker games, team building tasks (such as indoor rock climbing or escape rooms), group challenges, and opportunities for people to talk, dine, or enjoy a new task together.

Set Your Budget

Every event has a budget, and team building retreats often come with a high cost for your bottom line. Before you start planning, you need to understand your budget.

Finalize a budget for your company retreat and then break it down into different areas. Think about everything you’ll need to pay for — flights, accommodations, speakers, tour guides, catering, activities, and more.

Offsite corporate retreats can get expensive, especially if your workforce is located across the world. If you’re working with a smaller budget, consider hosting your retreat closer to home or staging it for fewer days.

Always give yourself some extra wiggle room in your budget. Allocate 5%-10% more than you think you’ll need. This gives you space in case you need to source something last minute or an emergency comes up. If you don’t spend it, you can allocate it for something fun or for professional development when you’re all back at the office.

Decide the Where and When

Once you know your budget, you can get started on planning where and when your corporate team building retreat will happen.

This step can be super fun. You get to consider different countries, locations, venues, and accommodations. Scout out the highest-rated locations and ask people in your network for recommendations. Make sure you check on any travel requirements or potential challenges before you settle on a location.

Most company retreats last for 4-5 days and usually start on a Monday. This leaves the weekend free for your team to enjoy as they wish — either by extending their trip using their vacation leave or heading home to spend it with family.

If your team is located far from the retreat location, give them an extra day dedicated to travel. That way, it won’t impact your team building plans and they don’t need to give up their weekend to travel.

Invite Your Team

team building retreats: Team Building Invitation by Greenvelope

Design: Luckybug Designs

With a location and the dates confirmed, it’s time to spread the word about your upcoming team building retreat.

We love the idea of sending digital invitations out to your teams. Not only is it a more efficient and eco-friendly way of inviting everyone, but it’s also super easy to track and manage RSVPs. You can also send plenty of useful information along with your invite — like linking to a shared drive or Slack channel where people can discuss the retreat.

Plan Your Agenda

Now it’s time to think about your agenda and plan all those great team building activities for your retreat. It’s a great idea to feature a mix of both business and more laid-back activities in your schedule. You’re all getting together to have a good time and build better bonds, but there’s still some work to do too. And you never know — your best ideas might just come up on your company retreat.

The activities you plan for your team building retreat are totally up to you, but here are some popular corporate event ideas:

  • Hackathons and product challenges
  • Meetings and seminars
  • Introductions and welcomes for new starters
  • Training sessions
  • Outdoor activities, like hiking or golf
  • Shared dining experiences
  • Team challenges, like scavenger hunts or escape rooms
  • Fun evening activities, like bowling or cocktail making

Build your agenda around your goals and the needs of your team. Give everyone a structure so they know when the day starts and ends, and which meetings and activities are required. Don’t forget to schedule personal downtime so people can refresh and unwind between meetings and seminars.

Get Everyone Prepared

As your team building retreat edges closer, check in with everyone and make sure they’re prepared. Confirm travel arrangements and offer to help them figure out the best way to reach the retreat. If you can, let people decide their own flight schedule rather than mandating it. It’s a small step but means your people can make it work best for them.

As soon as you have your agenda and the finer details confirmed, share them with everyone. Set up a dedicated conversation channel or document where people can check in for updates about the team building retreat. Offer plenty of help, and have a dedicated person to field any questions or concerns about the event.

Enjoy Your Retreat!

When the time comes to travel to your retreat, enjoy it! You’ve worked super hard on planning a unique, engaging team building retreat that’ll be memorable for everyone.

While you’ll continue coordinating during the event, try to tackle as much as possible before you arrive. If you can budget for it, consider hiring an external coordinator or facilitator so you can enjoy as much of the retreat experience as possible.

Our Best Team Building Retreat Tips

team building retreats: Group of women meditating outdoors

You’re all set on how to plan an event and now it’s time to nail down the details. Here are some of our top retreat planning tips to help you host an unforgettable experience.

Get Your Team Involved

Your company retreat is all about working together, so why not jumpstart the entire process with group involvement? Create opportunities for your team to get involved with planning and hosting the retreat.

Welcome ideas and make it easy for people to contribute their own thoughts and suggestions. Send out surveys or polls, and host open meetings and discussions where people can present their retreat ideas.

This approach can have lots of benefits. Not only will you get some great inspiration onboard, but it helps you identify creative thinkers and surface new potential leaders. Plus, people will feel more engaged and more likely to get involved with the event itself if they feel like they’re part of it right from the start.

Host a Welcome Meeting

Once your team members have settled into their rooms at the retreat and have had a chance to get comfortable, host a welcome meeting or meal.

This welcome meeting is the perfect way to kick off team building retreats. You can introduce key people, welcome newcomers, and set the tone for the rest of your days together. It’s an opportunity to inspire everyone, review basic housekeeping, and go over the agenda.

Plan Some Icebreakers

Even if you work in a small company, chances are there’s still much to learn about one another. Icebreakers are the perfect way to create new connections with people you don’t know well or strengthen bonds with people you don’t know as well as you thought.

Finding the right icebreaker activities can be a challenge. Often they’re dull or cheesy, and we’ve seen most of them before. For some fresh new ideas, try this list of fun icebreaker games.

Plan a Delicious Meal

Retro Placesetting Invitation by Greenvelope

Design: Laura Bolter Design

Food is a great way to bring people together, and that’s just as true on a company retreat as it is on any other occasion.

Plan one or more shared dining experiences where everyone can gather to enjoy delicious food and drink. You might hire a chef to visit your rented house or book a private dining experience in a top-rated local restaurant. The goal here is to let people relax, unwind, and encourage natural relationships to bloom across your company.

Capture the Day

Your team building retreats can’t last forever, which is why capturing the day on photo and video is a great idea.

Hire a photographer and/or videographer for your event if you can. While this adds to the budget, it means your whole internal team can participate fully without being on the outside capturing moments. That said, you can still encourage your teams to snap photos and create a digital space where you can all share and view them afterward.

Not only will these photos and videos be an amazing reminder of your time together but they’re also an excellent asset for promotional purposes too. Use your photographs as part of your recruitment and hiring process so candidates can get a feel for your company culture.

Send a Post-Retreat Survey

With your team building retreat over, it’s easy to think that’s the end of it for another year. Extend the celebration and get some useful data by sending a post-event survey.

Make it feel extra special by sending digital thank you notes to your team members. Send your gratitude and thank them for being part of your retreat. Alongside this, send a link to fill in a short survey about their experiences.

If you want to make this even sweeter, add a gift card to your thank you card. It’s a simple and cost-effective way to share your appreciation and extend that feel-good buzz.

Plan Team Building Retreats That Everyone Will Love

You’re now ready to ace your corporate event planning. Start by identifying your goals, setting a budget, and confirming your location and dates. From there, build out an engaging and fun agenda that mixes both business and pleasure. Get everyone onboard with the concept and encourage ideas, and you’re sure to have a fantastic company retreat that people will remember.