17 Ways to make corporate retreats fun!

The corporate retreats are a chance for your team to step away from the daily grind and recharge in a totally fresh setting.

It’s more than just a break from the office routine; it's a strategic investment in your team’s productivity! At Surf Office, we've been on this journey for over a decade, crafting more than 500 incredible retreats. With a decade of experience, we've got the know-how to make your retreat truly exceptional. Plus, we're not limited to one location; we've got a whopping 110+ stunning spots around the world. From Europe to the US, we cover a lot of the big spinning globe!

Now, let's shift gears and dive headfirst into the exhilarating world of making corporate retreats truly unforgettable. It's time to debunk the myth that these events are all about stuffy board meetings and endless PowerPoint presentations. No way! Imagine engaging in a thematic pirate boat party in Lisbon, one of our shining examples. This event was an absolute blast, seamlessly blending corporate engagement with pure, unadulterated fun. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. 

In this blog post, we'll delve into 17 exciting concepts to infuse corporate retreats with fun and create unforgettable experiences for your employees!

1. Team-building challenges

Team-building challenges are an exciting way to strengthen the bonds among your team members.

Imagine that you're in a sprawling park or an open field, organizing an array of physical and mental challenges. Consider setting up an obstacle course where teams must navigate through tire runs, crawl under nets, and conquer walls together. Another option is a scavenger hunt where teams follow clues to find hidden treasures or solve puzzles that require collaboration.

These challenges promote collaboration and problem-solving, all with a hint of friendly competition. They encourage individuals to work together, leveraging each other's strengths and creativity to overcome obstacles. The sense of accomplishment, when a team conquers a particularly tricky challenge, can boost morale and create lasting memories. It's not just about winning; it's about building trust and camaraderie that extends beyond the workplace.

2. Workshops and skill-building

Hosting workshops on topics like communication, leadership, or stress management can empower your employees with valuable skills. In a communication workshop, participants might engage in role-playing scenarios to practice active listening and effective feedback. For leadership development, you could explore real-life case studies of successful leaders to inspire and educate your team on essential leadership qualities.

These workshops aren't just about learning; they're about personal growth and professional development. They provide a safe space for team members to enhance their skills whilst gaining new insights. The knowledge gained here isn't just confined to the workplace; it can lead to better relationships in employees' lives. Ultimately, these workshops empower your team to excel in both their personal and professional lives.

We all know that these workshops can be difficult to carry out in the office setting, or just take too much time. This is why it's the perfect idea for your next retreat!

3. Themed dress-up dinner

Let's add a dash of creativity and a heap of fun to your team-building efforts with a themed dress-up dinner. Picture your team gathered at a quirky restaurant or even in your office, all dressed up according to a chosen theme. Whether it's "Movie Characters," "Retro Decades," or "Famous Duos," this activity encourages team members to unleash their inner fashionistas and embrace their playful side.

The beauty of a themed dress-up dinner is that it breaks the monotony of everyday work attire and lets everyone express themselves in unique ways. It's a fantastic icebreaker, sparking conversations and laughter as colleagues admire each other's costumes. Plus, the anticipation of seeing how each team member interprets the theme adds an element of surprise and delight. As you enjoy delicious food together, you'll create memories that will be talked about for years to come.

4. Campfire stories

There's something magical about sitting around a campfire, surrounded by the flickering glow of the flames and the soothing sounds of nature. Campfire storytelling is a wonderful way to make deeper connections within your team. Encourage your team members to take turns sharing personal anecdotes, funny mishaps, or even spooky tales.

These storytelling sessions provide a glimpse into the lives and personalities of your colleagues beyond the workplace. They create an atmosphere of trust and vulnerability where team members feel comfortable sharing their experiences. Whether it's a humorous story about a travel mishap or a heartfelt narrative about a personal triumph, these stories help everyone get to know each other on a deeper level. It's not just about the tales themselves but also the bonds and shared laughter that emerge around the campfire, making this activity a memorable and cherished experience.

5. Outdoor adventures

Ah, the great outdoors! With the demand of our jobs it’s difficult to find the time to get out and enjoy nature. Well why not try exhilarating outdoor activities like hiking through pristine forests, kayaking on a tranquil lake, or soaring through the treetops on a thrilling zip line? These outdoor adventures are more than just fun; they promote physical fitness, teamwork, and a sense of adventure among your team members.

Outdoor activities provide a break from the usual indoor corporate retreat events, allowing everyone to breathe in the fresh air and soak in the beauty of nature. Whether it's navigating a challenging hiking trail as a team or conquering fears together on a zip line, these experiences create lasting memories and strengthen bonds. There's a sense of accomplishment that comes with completing these adventures as a group. 

6. Talent show

A workplace talent show is a breath of fresh air in the corporate world. It's an opportunity for your team members to step out of their professional roles and showcase their hidden talents, making everyone feel more connected and relatable. Imagine Lisa from HR belting out a soulful rendition of a classic ballad, or Mike from IT doing a stand-up comedy routine that leaves everyone in stitches. 

These moments not only boost camaraderie but also create a more relaxed and open environment within your team. Laughter and applause replace emails and deadlines for a while, giving everyone a chance to appreciate the diverse talents and passions of their colleagues. This fun-filled event can leave a lasting impression and serve as a reminder that there's more to your coworkers than just their job titles.

7. Team puzzles

Everyone loves a great puzzle! Try to encourage your team to gather around a challenging puzzle, with each member contributing their unique perspectives and insights. Bringing different departments together to pool knowledge, brainstorming solutions and celebrate the "aha!" moments together. 

Whether it's a cryptic crossword or a mind-bending riddle, these activities encourage your team to think critically and work harmoniously. The joy of solving a tricky puzzle or escaping from a locked room is not just in the accomplishment but in the shared experience. It builds trust and reinforces the idea that your team can tackle any challenge, no matter how complex, when they put their minds together.

8. Board games tournament

A board game tournament in the workplace is like a friendly battle that brings out the competitive spirit in everyone. Consider a scenario where you set up a Monopoly championship. The finance team strategizes to build their real estate empire, while the marketing team tries to outwit them with clever negotiations. The atmosphere becomes charged with excitement and laughter as everyone competes for the title of board game champion. 

These tournaments promote healthy competition, strategic thinking and teamwork. The best part is that even if someone loses the game, they still win in terms of building stronger bonds and creating memorable moments with their colleagues.

9. Lip sync battle

Hosting a lip sync battle at a corporate retreat is like unleashing the inner performer in your team members. Imagine the shyest person in your office transforming into a rockstar or pop icon on stage, miming to their favorite song with boundless enthusiasm. 

This activity is all about having fun and letting loose. It's a chance for everyone to express themselves in a different way and entertain their colleagues. From elaborate costumes to dramatic dance moves, a lip sync battle brings out the creativity and showmanship in unexpected places. 

It can create a supportive atmosphere where colleagues cheer for each other, regardless of their singing or dancing abilities. The shared laughter and applause create a sense of unity, reminding everyone that work can also be a stage for self-expression and enjoyment.

10. Comedy night

Arranging a comedy night at the retreat injects a dose of laughter and relaxation into the mini-holiday. Have you ever considered hiring a professional stand-up comedian or encouraging employees to craft their own comedy routines?

The goal is to bring joy and amusement to the team. Can you imagine having free-reign to make jokes about the CEO? Or the chance for your reserved colleague to deliver an unexpectedly hilarious monologue about everyone's bad habits?

Laughter is a universal language that breaks down barriers and creates a positive atmosphere. A comedy night provides a unique opportunity for team members to see each other in a different light, appreciating their colleagues' sense of humor and creativity beyond their usual job roles. It's not just a night of laughter but also an experience that leaves lasting memories and strengthens the bonds within the team.

11. Corporate Olympics

Hosting a mini Olympics can be a fantastic way to boost teamwork and camaraderie among your employees. Think beyond the typical corporate retreat activities and get everyone involved in fun and competitive games. Imagine organizing sack races, where employees hop inside sacks and race to the finish line. Tug-of-war can pit different departments against each other, fostering healthy rivalry and teamwork. Relay races require efficient coordination and communication among team members.

For example, in the sack race, you can see employees hopping clumsily, stumbling and laughing together, forming bonds beyond their work roles. Tug-of-war competitions can see departments pulling together, showcasing their collective strength. Relay races require seamless handovers of a baton, highlighting the importance of clear communication and teamwork.

By the end of your Corporate Olympics, your team will be physically tired but emotionally recharged. They’re going to be talking about the corporate retreat for months after this!

12. Movie night under the stars

Transform your corporate retreat into an outdoor cinema for a magical movie night under the stars. Set up a large screen, grab some cozy blankets and bean bags for seating, and perhaps even the soft glow of string lights above. This event not only offers relaxation but also encourages bonding through shared cinematic experiences.

For instance, showing a classic film like "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" can trigger nostalgia and conversations about childhood memories. Employees can munch on popcorn, share their favorite movie quotes and debate over plot twists. This relaxed setting encourages connections among colleagues in a casual, non-work environment.

Imagine your team laughing together during a comedy or getting engrossed in a thrilling action film. Movie night under the stars offers a unique and laid-back opportunity for your employees to unwind and connect at the corporate retreat. 

13. Escape room challenge

Hosting an escape room challenge at the next corporate retreat is an exciting way to promote problem-solving and teamwork. Create a room filled with puzzles, riddles, and hidden clues that require collective effort to solve. Employees will need to communicate effectively and use their critical thinking skills to "escape" within a time limit.

For example, imagine a scenario where your team is "trapped" in a secret laboratory, and they must decipher codes, unlock locks, and find hidden keys to break free. The excitement and challenge of this experience push employees to work closely together and utilize each other's strengths.

As teams uncover clues and solve puzzles, they'll develop a deeper appreciation for each other's skills and build trust through shared accomplishments. The escape room challenge is an engaging and memorable way to strengthen the bonds within your team.

14. Group art project

You know what they say, "Teamwork makes the dream work," and that's exactly what a group art project is all about. Think of it as a creative adventure where your team comes together to craft something amazing. Imagine taking one afternoon of your corporate retreat and dedicating it for team art. Your crew will be buzzing with excitement as everyone gathers around a blank canvas, ready to paint a mural that embodies your company's essence.

Now, everyone's got their unique artistic flair, and this is where the magic happens. Each brushstroke and color choice becomes a symbol of teamwork, as your team learns to communicate and compromise to bring their artistic vision to life.

As the project unfolds, you'll see colleagues brainstorming, discussing ideas, and solving artistic challenges as a cohesive unit. You must give this a chance at your next corporate retreat!

15. Blindfolded trust walk

Trust falls are so last decade. Enter the blindfolded trust walk – a team-building exercise that's both thrilling and enlightening. Just imagine one of your coworkers, blindfolded and vulnerable, navigating a maze of obstacles with nothing but the guidance and encouragement of a teammate.

It's like a real-life trust experiment! As the blindfolded participant relies on their partner's directions, they discover the importance of trust, active listening, and effective communication. The guiding teammate, on the other hand, learns the value of clear instructions and supportive leadership.

The best part? It's not just about the activity itself; it sparks meaningful conversations about trust and teamwork that linger long after the blindfolds come off.

Try to incorporate this in whatever setting you choose for your corporate retreat. We recommend outside as the noises, distractions and feeling around a new place entirely can really bring out the entertainment!

16. Karaoke night

Who says work can't be a stage for star-studded performances? Karaoke night is where the retreat transforms into a lively concert venue, complete with microphones and catchy tunes. Everyone will be caught off guard when that usually reserved colleague surprises everyone with an awe-inspiring rendition of a hit song. Or even a teammate bringing the house down with a hilarious performance.

Karaoke night is all about letting loose, showcasing talents (or lack thereof), and encouraging a supportive atmosphere where cheers and applause are generously shared. The aim is all about celebrating each other's unique qualities and finding hidden talents you never knew existed in the cubicles.

By the end of the night, your team will have shared laughter and perhaps even discovered the next office superstar. Karaoke night creates lasting memories and strengthens the bonds that make your workplace feel like a second home. So, grab that mic and shine!

17. Break bread together!

Breaking bread together is a universal symbol of connection and camaraderie. It transcends language barriers and cultural differences, allowing your team to come together on a deeper level. Whether you're indulging in a fancy restaurant feast or enjoying a casual picnic, these moments can be the highlight of your retreat.

Here at Surf Office, we're all about creating the right atmosphere for these experiences. Our retreat locations are carefully chosen to provide inviting communal spaces for meals. We believe that when your team can relax, share stories from the day and savor delicious food together, it brings everyone together. This is why we have been eating family meals for millennia!

So, as you plan your corporate retreat, remember that these shared meals are more than just a necessity—they're an opportunity to weave the tightest bonds and create lasting memories that will enrich your team's dynamic long after the retreat concludes. Bon appétit and happy bonding!


1. What is the point of a corporate retreat?

A corporate retreat serves several important purposes:

2. Are corporate retreats still a thing?

Absolutely, corporate retreats are still very much in the game! They might look a bit different depending on the company like whether it's a big conglomerate or a smaller outfit, and factors like industry and budget come into play too. But the core idea of whisking employees away from the daily grind for some team bonding, strategizing, and a bit of R&R is still golden.

3. What makes a successful company retreat?

When it comes to putting together a winning corporate retreat, you've got to put your thinking cap on and give it some real thought. Start things off with a bang by setting up clear objectives. Think about what you really want to get out of this retreat – whether it's strengthening your team, getting your strategy straight, or helping your folks level up their skills. The key here is to be crystal clear about your goals, selecting the right venue, and planning the structure of the retreat carefully.

No items found.
No items found.
No items found.
No items found.
No items found.
budget retreat spreadsheet

Retreat Budget Spreadsheet

Are you organising a company retreat and want to make sure you have all the costs under the control?

Get a copy of our free Budget Calculator spreadsheet.

Get a copy

Interviews with more “newly-remote” companies:

CPJ’s journey into remote work

CPJ’s journey into remote work

During these times, many companies are switching to remote work. You may have heard that large companies, like Twitter, Shopify, and Slack are doing so, but we’re also seeing this shift with smaller companies, startups, and digital agencies as well. Perhaps this transition was already in the pipeline, or maybe COVID-19 was the catalyst. Either…

How a proptech startup REalyse switched from a London office to remote work

How a proptech startup REalyse switched from a London office to remote work

By now, you’ve probably heard the news that large companies like Twitter, Shopify and Slack are “going remote”. And recently, we’re hearing more and more stories about smaller companies, startups, and digital agencies doing the same. What were their motivations? What challenges do they face during this transition? How do they see their future? We…

From the office to remote: Real.Digital chooses quality over the location

From the office to remote: Real.Digital chooses quality over the location

Around mid-August of this year Real.Digital announced that they will be operating as a remote first company from now on.They might not be affected by the COVID-19 in economic terms, but the decision to shift their work practices was still a significant one. Fortunately, they’re viewing it as a great opportunity to open up their talent pool to people from all over the world!

How digital product studio Pixelmatters transformed from office to remote

How digital product studio Pixelmatters transformed from office to remote

By now, you’ve probably heard the news that large companies like Twitter, Shopify and Slack are “going remote”. And recently, we’re hearing more and more stories about smaller companies, startups, and digital agencies doing the same. What were their motivations? What challenges do they face during this transition? How do they see their future? We…


How to plan your first company retreat

Get for free

With knowledge collected from:

free course partners logos

free course

How to plan your first company retreat

With knowledge collected from:
surfoffice in press logossurfoffice in press logos

Organize your next company retreat with Surf Office

500+ retreats organized ● 10 years of experience ● 110+ retreat locations
Get a quote