It’s easy to get bogged down in daily responsibilities, only to discover your company has slipped into a rut. To strengthen and grow your business, you may need to trade workplace distractions for a company retreat. But not for too long, of course, as those same responsibilities won’t disappear while you’re away. Here’s how to get the most out of an off-site retreat.
A retreat is an important business investment, but its value must not to be voided by its cost. Expenses can add up quickly, from food and lodging to productivity loss. Plan details around what you can realistically afford, and don’t overspend. However, if you’re trying to reward your employees, don’t be afraid to provide a small gift such as a pair of personalized sunglasses. To help you plan far in advance, include itemized retreat expenses in your annual company budget.
You may feel inclined to touch upon everything related to the business, but you likely won’t have enough time, so focus only on what you believe will most benefit the company. If you work with a tight-knit group of people, for example, you can probably forgo a day of team building. What do you want people to come away with? Determine which goals and action items the team must tackle before the retreat’s conclusion.
Pulling your team out of work with a vague notion of what you hope to accomplish would be a big mistake. Provide all attendees with a detailed schedule of events for each day from start to finish. Don’t hesitate to dictate how much time is allowed for any given discussion or activity; this keeps everyone on task and prevents long-running sessions from cutting short other agenda items. Include meals and entertainment, too.
All those who are attending should know what’s expected of them and what, specifically, they need to bring. For example, if you’re asking people to share insights on their team’s recent performance, they will need enough time to collect required data and assemble reports. Be sure all necessary equipment for presenting information, such as a projector or sound system, is available at the retreat facility. Also provide attendees with a pen and custom notebook so they can take notes during presentations without being distracted by their computer.
Designate a person to oversee all retreat logistics throughout the event. Don’t let any time go to waste for attendees who need to stay focused on tasks more critical than looking for extension cords or clearing a space for caterers. An experienced coordinator can make sure everything runs smoothly and efficiently.
You will have a lot to cover, and you’re wise to dive into each day early, but recognize your team’s limitations. People think more clearly and stay more engaged with sufficient time to eat and rest. Plan for free time in the agenda, when people can decide how to best focus their attention. They’ll appreciate the opportunity to reflect on what’s been discussed and to further explore topics from a broader perspective.
You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish when you set aside the time to give your company the attention and care it deserves. Your next retreat doesn’t have to be lengthy or extravagant to be effective—it just needs to be effective. How have you maximized a company retreat?