6 Tips for Making This Summer’s Work Retreat the Best Ever

Make the most of this in-person time together.

Written by Brenda Jacobsen
Published on Jun. 18, 2024
6 Tips for Making This Summer’s Work Retreat the Best Ever
Image: Shutterstock / Built In

Summer work retreats are an excellent way to rejuvenate your employees, discuss and emphasize key strategic initiatives, collaborate as a group and offer face-to-face connections for all team members, especially those working remotely.

5 Top Tips for a Memorable Summer Work Retreat

  1. Plan the retreat with all employees in mind, including parents and those with disabilities.
  2. Make travel arrangements that present the least amount of stress for employees.
  3. Plan work sessions that make the most of in-person engagement.
  4. Balance the schedule to include downtime and time for recreation.
  5. Keep the momentum going with post-retreat communication and followups.

To make the most of this concentrated in-person time together, go beyond the typical team-building activities in favor of a more strategic approach to your summer work retreat planning. Here are six tips to ensure your summer work retreat is memorable and effective.

Related Reading Here’s How to Create a Ritual for Your Team

 

Prepare Thoroughly

Proper preparation is the cornerstone of a successful retreat. Start by thinking through how you will spend the time. Focus on experiences that benefit from in-person interaction rather than spending time doing what you could be doing virtually, such as standard meetings

Invite Accordingly

If your work retreat has predominantly strategic objectives, including sessions like brainstorming, project planning and work-related seminars, family members should not be included. These types of retreats are geared toward education and development and your workforce may be distracted if their families are tagging along. However, if your aim is mainly around team building and connection, it could be a great option to extend the invites to their family or plan parallel paths.

Collaborate on Planning

Enlist team members who are passionate about this type of work to help co-create the retreat. Their enthusiasm and creativity can enhance the overall experience.

Prepare Attendees

Communicate with attendees about what to expect and what to bring. If there’s a theme, let them know so they can pack accordingly. For instance, if you’re planning outdoor activities, tell them to bring appropriate footwear and attire.

Set the Mood

Clearly articulate the theme or vibe of the retreat. Encourage attendees to arrive with a specific mindset that aligns with the goals of the event. This could be a focus on innovation, relaxation or strategic planning.


Focus on the Details

The small details often leave the biggest impression. Pay close attention to details to make the trip easier for participants, accommodate special needs or disabilities and to help make sure it goes smoothly. 

Consider Families

Be conscious of employees who have families and take it into account when planning the length of your retreat. If most of your employees hands-on parents, consider a one- or two-day retreat versus five days. 

Make Stress-Free Travel Arrangements

Choose a location and airport convenient for most of your team to reach. The more stress-free you can make their journey, the more relaxed your attendees will be on arrival.

Offer Branded Gear

Everyone loves receiving company-branded accessories that they can use, such as sweatshirts, caps and water bottles. It can help promote a sense of belonging and unity.

Provide Personal Touches

Consider small, personalized details such as handwritten notes in their rooms. These gestures show that you value each team member.

Include Healthful Options

Keep your team’s energy up with healthful food and snacks. Cater to dietary preferences and needs so everyone feels cared for and can perform at their best.

 

Use In-Person Time for Big-Picture Thinking

The physical, as opposed to virtual, presence of all your employees presents a huge opportunity for discussing the company’s big-picture goals. Use this time to uncover fresh approaches and ideas and inspire your team. Thirty-four percent of employees have had their most creative ideas while on a company or executive retreat, according to a TravelPerk survey.

Share the Company Strategy and Focus

Clearly communicate the company’s strategy and focus. Help each team member understand their role in achieving these goals.

Create an Insider Experience

Share exciting updates about new products, clients and innovations. This insider information can get your team excited about the future.

 

Build Relationships and Connections

Take the opportunity to build and strengthen relationships within the company and team by creating specific times to network.

Encourage Face-to-Face Interactions 

Ensure that team members who haven’t met in person get the chance to connect. These face-to-face interactions can enhance collaboration after the retreat ends.

Foster Friendships

Design activities that encourage team members to bond, build trust and leave with new friendships.

Highlight Internal Resources

Include a session that highlights wellness and continuing education stipends, mental well-being support, upskilling programs and other resources employees underuse or might not be aware of.


Take Care of Their Minds and Bodies

A well-balanced retreat considers both the physical and mental well-being of its attendees.

Balance the Schedule

Be mindful of how early you start and how late your scheduled activities end. Allocate enough downtime for attendees to rest so they can stay engaged throughout the retreat.

Plan Physical Activity

Incorporate a variety of physical activities that support connection without feeling forced. Options like yoga sessions, hikes or team sports can be fun and beneficial for team bonding. Make sure to include activities that all employees can participate in, regardless of their physical condition.

Further Reading5 Ways to Turn Your Company Into a Team


Keep the Momentum Going

The retreat shouldn’t end when everyone leaves. Keep the energy and engagement alive with a follow-up communication strategy.

Provide Ongoing Communication

Design an internal marketing campaign that ties back to the retreat’s messaging. Share photos and highlights and acknowledge the combined efforts of the team.

Encourage Continued Engagement

Regular updates and recognition help maintain the momentum built during the retreat and keep the team focused on the shared goals.

Following these tips will create a summer work retreat that is enjoyable, builds lasting connections and moves your team closer to achieving your company’s goals.

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