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A general corporate retreat involves gathering a team that works together daily and removes them from the worksite. No work follows the group. It’s not a working vacation. There must be no distractions at all. When on a retreat, no one from the company or business may call or contact the retreat members. Locales for a retreat should give off a general air of comfortable isolation, a kind of island in the middle of the hectic world’s river.

The overall goal of a retreat is to provide an atmosphere of relaxation. An atmosphere in which creative solutions to business issues will arise. It’s also an opportunity to get to know each other better. Corporate retreats take two forms: on-site and off-site. You really want to go with the off-site retreat. If you and your team don’t leave the workplace, it’s difficult to get all the benefits a retreat brings. A retreat is simply gathering your team members together away from the workplace, away from daily responsibilities and distractions. Renting a conference room in a hotel, no matter how nice the hotel, won’t do it. Hotels reek of business. A retreat needs to be somewhere else; somewhere that doesn’t look like a poorly made-over gymnasium.

Some corporate retreats will include spouses. Not all do. Some do have items of business that get discussed, but again, not every retreat takes this form. Structured activities are a part of some retreats. Banish from your mind the idea of “trust falls” and other rather hokey team building exercises. These were fads popular a decade or more ago that didn’t translate into better work environments or better work outcomes. Corporate retreats no longer try to convince people that everyone on the team is one big happy family, either. That’s not a cynical position; it’s a genuine position. A company is not a family and to pretend otherwise may work for some team members, but for others it seems disingenuous and turns them off immediately. Retreats nowadays focus on exotic locales, opportunities for adventure, and group activities that aren’t forced or artificial, but quite real (think of kayaking!).

Of course, there are as many kinds of retreats as there are companies. Different departments may want a different locale or focus. There are strategic planning retreats, mission retreats, executive retreats, and the list goes on and on. The important thing to remember is that for a retreat to work it must be enjoyable. If team members dread going on a retreat, its purpose will never be achieved. Here are some of the best reasons to pack a bag and head out!

  • Break out of the bubble: It’s easy to lose track of the big picture when day by day we’re focused on what’s in our channel. We take our part of the project, break it down into deliverables, on and on it goes. It’s both instructive and interesting to see how others involved in other aspects of the overall job think.
  • Share secrets (to work): Many times, there’s a process that just doesn’t work for us, so we invent elaborate workarounds. Other people may have solved that process issue and have that solution right there. At a retreat, we have the time to talk about things that work and those things that don’t.
  • Understanding common issues: We all have blind spots in our approach to our work, our way of interacting with co-workers, our very approach to the job itself. By listening to others, we can hear and see our own issues coming out of the mouths of our co- workers. Dissolving that lonely feeling that “I’m the only one in the whole company who has this issue” is so helpful both for the emotional support and increased benefits for everyone.

1 Response

Max Jones
Max Jones

May 01, 2017

I like that you talked about taking an off site corporate getaway as opposed to an on site option. I think that a corporate mountain getaway would be a lot of fun for our team to do! I’ve always found it beneficial when I can see coworkers and superiors outside of the work environment and build relationships that way. I think I may need to suggest some sort of corporate getaway to our company! http://highcountrylodge.co/

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