11 Ideas for Team Building Retreat Activities

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Team building activities are crucial for constructing positive, effective company culture. And team-building retreats provide a perfect framework for making serious headway in this department.

They help:

  • Facilitate better teamwork
  • Increase team cohesion
  • Support team members
  • Help everyone to understand one another

They also help employees better understand their role in company processes. Help them see how their vision and the company vision line up to project a bright, hopeful, meaningful future together.

Choosing the proper activities and venue for your corporate retreat are vital components of the process.

Remember — the point of a team-building retreat is to help your team grow, learn, and develop. Planning team-building events and activities in advance to support this is a winning strategy.

Table of Contents

1. Emphasize Togetherness and Collaboration
2. Play an Ice-Breaker Game
3. Brunch, Followed by a Company Strategy Meeting
4. Go Boating, Hiking, or to The Beach
5. Explore a New City Location Together
6. Share a Meal and/or a Drink
7. Schedule Discussions to Cover These Three Crucial Topics
8. Play Team-Centered Sports
9. Hold a Management Listening Session
10. Schedule Free Time for Rest and Relaxation
12. Sign Everyone Up for Lessons, to Learn Something New
13. Spend at Least One Evening Just Being Together

 


Emphasize Togetherness And Collaboration

Before diving into the 11 dynamic activities, first, let’s touch on one significant mindset factor. Something that will serve as a foundational building block as you plan your next company retreat or corporate event.

Togetherness.

Remember, this is a company retreat. You want to bring people together, have fun, get out of the office, and make sure that everyone connects on a positive level.

The primary goals of a successful retreat should be to:

  • Strengthen communication
  • Innovate
  • Optimize
  • Bond
  • Resolve tension
  • Identify problems and brainstorm solutions

Planning activities that emphasize inclusion (especially among people who don’t usually work together) is paramount.

A Note About Remote Teams …

Nowadays, more and more companies are using remote teams to perform vital company functions.

Is your team primarily remote and predominantly keeps in contact via online work platforms, Slack messenger, or email?

You can still make it a point to schedule a team-building retreat and include your remote workforce in it.

In fact, remote teams may benefit even more from such a retreat than teams who work together in-person.

Why?

Bringing an otherwise spread-out team together gives you an even greater opportunity for bonding, team-building, and mutual learning/growth as a company.

Statistics show us that feelings of employee isolation reduce productivity by up to 21%. Whereas socializing between team members improves communication patterns by more than 50%.

Guess what?

This is fantastic news for any company. But it’s even more significantly beneficial to companies that make use of a remote, off-site workforce. 

Now we’re ready to talk about those team-building retreat activities!


1. Play An Ice-Breaker Game

For best results, decide on an ice-breaker game during the retreat planning stage of the process.

If you’re planning a one-day retreat, this could take place first thing in the morning.

If you’re planning a retreat for one or more large groups, you may need to brainstorm an activity that’s fast-paced and easy to get through.

One of my favorite ice-breaker games we used to play?

Well, it involved a blown-up beach ball with a bunch of questions written on it.

We would toss it around the room, making sure everyone got several turns. Whenever you caught it, you would state your name, department, and job title. Then, you’d answer whatever question your right thumb was closest to.

Some of the questions were silly. Most were ridiculous. Some were deep and thought-provoking.

Of course, there are a ton of ice-breaker game ideas online.

A quick Google search should yield dozens of excellent results.

Just make sure to plan ahead and buy what’s needed to facilitate the activity beforehand.


2. Brunch, Followed By A Company Strategy Meeting

Yes, it’s a retreat. So you don’t want to overwork everyone.

But early on, minds will be fresh — and creative energy will be at its peak.

Leverage this energy to focus on one crucial company problem or innovation. Then lead your team to brainstorm solutions, offer perspective, and/or develop a vision or a plan.

The venue or hotel needs to have a meeting space or conference room for this part. (Something to consider when pricing your venue and planning out your itinerary!)

Use the filter tool on Hotel Engine to quickly and easily search by price, distance, amenities, and more.


3. Go Boating, Hiking, Or To The Beach

 

Team building ideas like hiking

 

Regardless of where you plan to go for your company getaway, it’ll be vital to schedule some outdoor activities.

The fresh air and exercise will help energize the team and make time for some important informal socializing. When scheduling these types of events, try to keep them themed with your destination — and use local resources to your advantage.

Is your retreat going to be in New York?

Plan to visit one of their many lakes, rivers, or reservoirs and rent a kayak or a canoe.

Kayaking may not be for everyone. But most people find it’s an activity that’s both relaxing and full of adventure (which makes it perfect for team building).

Are you planning to go to San Francisco?

One of the best things about the San Francisco region is the bay area. Or, travel north and spend some time in Marin county.

Going to Colorado?

Go skiing or hiking (just watch out for bears).

Going to Florida?

Visit the beach.

What really matters is that you get outside, have fun, and stir up some of that “adventure spirit” together as a team.


4. Explore A New City Or Location Together

Exploring together facilitates bonding, discovery, and creativity.

As the facilitator, you can make this activity even more fun by putting together an off-site or on-site scavenger hunt.

Even if you don’t plan something like that in advance, just hit the city or region and see what you find.

Doing so can offer a ton of opportunity for:

  • spending time together
  • finding new fun activities to enjoy
  • enjoying the presence and companionship of the great team members along on the retreat

This can also provide your remote team with a fantastic opportunity to bond with your on-site team.

Related: 13 Corporate Retreat Locations in the U.S. Your Team is Sure to Love


5. Share A Meal And/Or A Drink

 

Team building meal

 

Enjoy a happy hour or dinner together to enjoy the beauty of the city, retreat, or campsite that’s serving as your event space.

Your team can enjoy happy hour at the venue’s hotel bar/restaurant if one is available. Or, you could head out to enjoy the local cuisine.

For best results, keep this occasion fun and light.

You could discuss the company or the business, but try not to push conversations too much.

Many case studies and reports support the fact that sharing meals serves a positive purpose within families and social groups. (For example, students who regularly eat meals with their parents are less likely to be truant.)

Sharing meals together matters and is sacred in many countries, communities, and customs.

And you can leverage this powerful social practice to bring your team together and foster a better sense of community.


6. Schedule Discussions To Cover These Three Crucial Topics

Having fun and bonding as a team are primary goals of any company retreat. Yet, another important goal is to identify problems and brainstorm potential solutions.

Schedule some time to gather team feedback on some version of these vital, open-ended questions:

  • Where was the company a year ago?
  • Where is our company now, in comparison to that?
  • What’s gotten better?
  • What has changed?
  • Where is our company headed in the future?
  • Is this a good or bad direction? And if it’s bad, how do we change it now?

Encourage your team to really dive into this. Allow them to get creatively energized in their own unique ways, and give them space to be super honest.

Once more, hosting this on-site at the hotel conference room may be best.


7. Play Team-Centered Sports

Consider sport-centered amenities when booking your hotel or venue.

Sports like volleyball, bowling, or kickball tend to be the most popular. They’re fun, easy to play, they give everyone the chance to participate, and they’re not too difficult to pick up if someone hasn’t played them before.

This activity gives your team the chance to work together on something fun and encourages physical exercise.

Plus, it’s always a blast to play games together!

Potential alternatives to “team sports” could include ropes courses, mini-golf, an obstacle course, or an escape room.


8. Hold A Management Listening Session

You could do this during a walk through a peaceful park or sit quietly around a campfire.

The key here is to allow every team member to share an experience where they felt alienated or underappreciated by management.

This is an opportunity for team members to feel safe enough to share honestly. Managers/leaders should encourage open communication without repercussions or judgment.

This works better in a fixed, distraction-free location. Also, make sure to schedule plenty of time so that everyone gets their chance to speak.

You won’t want to cut this activity off without giving everyone the chance to share.


9. Schedule Free Time For Rest And Relaxation

As important as it is to plan activities, bond as a team, and solve company problems …

It’s also crucial to provide your team with some much-needed R&R.

Rest, recovery, and relaxation are essential.

They’re important because your team is worth it.

Remember — another vital goal of any team building retreat is to resolve tension. One of the best ways to do this is to give everyone some room for doing their own thing, on their own time, in whatever social circles or groups they’re feeling.

Never underestimate the creative, rejuvenating power of scheduled downtime.


10. Sign Everyone Up For Lessons, To Learn Something New

Learning things together can be an awesome team building experience.

This could be surfing, skiing, scuba diving, a cooking class, or really anything relevant and tied to your current location. Keep in mind that you’ll want a backup activity for those who have no desire to take part.

You can get creative with this one.

The main goal is to encourage bonding through education, discovery, and learning.


11. Spend At Least One Evening Just Being Together

Crack open some cold ones, put on some upbeat music, enjoy the sunset, and simply spend some time being humans together.

Yes, you’re all connected by your work. But this activity will emphasize the fact that you’re more than just co-workers.

You’re a community, with your own culture and blend of unique identities.

And by taking some time to be together and enjoy one another’s company, you’ll be doubling down on what is perhaps the most important lesson of all.

At the end of the day, the overarching goal is to care for each other on a human level. 

If your company can bring a bit more of that attitude back into the business, it’ll do wonders for morale and culture.


Conclusion

There you have it.

11 team building retreat activity ideas that will empower your company to take your planned corporate retreat to the next level.

Just remember — the better you plan all these things out in advance, the better off you’ll be.

Prove to your team how much you care about the company culture by putting effort into:

  • Choosing the location
  • Booking the hotel
  • Scheduling activities
  • Orchestrating those activities in real-time

And, hey, if you do a fantastic job of organizing and planning this retreat?

You’ll also win over their loyalty and goodwill toward you as a planner, human resources manager, or team leader.

So get out there, plan the best retreat possible, and watch your team thrive, grow, and bond.

And last, but definitely not least — don’t forget to have a fabulous time!

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