In today’s blog, get ready for a rollercoaster of team-building wisdom! We're revealing the eight key elements that make our team retreats legendary. We'll also let you in on the dos and don'ts that you absolutely can't snooze on. While we’re at it, we're also throwing in a sneak peek into the amazing adventures of our two mini-retreats in Peniche, Portugal, and Mallorca, Spain, along with the epic saga of our sales kick-off meeting in Portugal.
Let’s get into this!
1. Timing is everything
We all decided to ditch our respective residencies for the last of the delicious summer weather in Mallorca where we were having our mini-retreat experience. Who wouldn't, right? There's a trend brewing recently and we’ve been eager to check out; more companies are swapping summer retreats for the cozy charm of Southern Europe in autumn and winter. Smart move, we say, the weather was fantastic and we couldn’t help posting a few weather show-off photos to our friends back at home!
Organizing all-company retreats before summer and smaller team getaways in November and December has become a cornerstone of our remote company culture. These gatherings serve as our anchor points, bringing everyone together and injecting a healthy dose of team spirit into our virtual work environment.
2. Choosing the right location
Choosing a dream location is a no-brainer, but getting there? That's the challenge. Mallorca boasts the third-largest airport in Spain and a bounty of affordable flights. Easy access means everyone can join the team-building retreat party without breaking the bank.
Also, we’re big believers in that selecting a retreat location isn't just about convenience; it's about creating an atmosphere that resonates with our team. We've found that choosing venues familiar to us not only ensures easy accessibility but also taps into the positive vibes from previous experiences.
3. Craft the ideal agenda
Our retreat sweet spot? Three full days of collaborative goodness, sandwiched between a day for arrivals and another for departures. We found that doing it this way enabled us to find the perfect rhythm and enough time to delve deep into discussions and team-building activities.
Now, our next focus when organizing a retreat agenda are the timeblocks throughout the day. One of the most common pitfalls, that even we’re guilty of sometimes – the jam-packed work agenda. But we learned a valuable lesson on our retreats; you don't need to be glued to a meeting room all day to achieve greatness. For example, at our sales-kick off meeting in Portugal, we squeezed our work sessions into a sweet spot between 9:30 am and 1:30 pm, with a 30-minute coffee break thrown in. Our focus levels were through the roof and quality reigned supreme over quantity!
4. Balance work and play
Finding that balance between coworking and free time is an art. For our sales and support teams, having dedicated work hours is crucial, but so is allowing everyone some breathing space. Just because you’re with work colleagues, does that mean you’ll have no free time? Absolutely not! Sure, we could've crammed our schedule to the brim, but where's the fun in that?
Free time meant catching up on emails, brainstorming during walks, playing some getting-to-know-you icebreakers or trying the local cuisine. At our Portugal retreat we indulge in the finest Portuguese cuisine; grilled octopus, seafood feasts, and affordability – it's a triple win.
Another example is when we strategically opted for breakfast and lunch at the hotel and dinner in town whilst in Portugal. Why? Because the time spent breaking bread with your team and indulging in local cuisine is gold during a retreat! Don’t waste valuable time with a McDonald's take-away meal for one!
5. “Couldn’t you have just said this in an email?”
As we craft our agenda, we always ask ourselves a pivotal question: Can this be done easily remotely? If the answer is yes, it's probably better left off the agenda. We're intentional about keeping our schedule retreat-worthy and not turning it into just another virtual meeting.
6. The venue magic
Choosing the right venue is more than half the battle won. Choosing that perfect backdrop that resonates with everyone in your team sets the tone for the entire experience. We've discovered that a comfortable, inspiring space is where the magic happens. It turns into a place where ideas flow, and connections deepen.
Take our mind-refreshing mini retreat in Mallorca as an example. Imagine a 300-year-old finca nestled near the mountains, the sun is setting on another perfectly warm evening, the birds are singing their last songs of the day and paella is cooking inside. That was our retreat haven, offering a blend of indoor brainstorming spaces and outdoor paella feasts by the pool. A magical venue like ours sets the tone for creativity and camaraderie.
7. Never sleep on the magic of team-building activities
Simple team-building activities are our staple! Whether it's a leisurely bike tour, a scenic hike, or a cooking adventure, these activities allow teamwork to grow organically. They're inclusive, ensuring everyone can participate, and they provide the perfect environment for those spontaneous, yet meaningful, conversations.
At our epic sales kickoff retreat in Portugal, we started with Icebreakers that sparked magic throughout the team! This was all thanks to the classic "Two Truths and a Lie" icebreaker game. You may think this icebreaker has been over-done in the team-building world, but trust us, there’s a reason it’s so widely used! Laughter, surprise, and a touch of vulnerability – the perfect recipe to set the right tone.
Then we moved on to hiking. Sometimes Hiking gets a bad rep, especially from those who aren’t as active as they’d like to be (we feel you!). But give hiking a chance, especially as a team-building activity. Drawing on our experience, it felt like the height of team-building activities! Just remember; magic happens when you're surrounded by nature.
We embraced technology and scoured the AllTrails app, found a scenic trail in Peniche, and embarked on a journey of breathtaking cliffs and spontaneous 1:1 conversations. Nature did its thing, and we bonded like never before.
8. Save the best for last
We've learned through experience – always keep the party for the last evening. It's the grand finale, the culmination of shared experiences and accomplishments. Ending on a celebratory note ensures that everyone leaves with a sense of achievement and a pocketful of great memories.
Also, we try to keep the party for the last night, not every night, so the team isn’t feeling the after-effects of the night before… if you catch our drift!
Want to test our tips? Allow Surf Office to help you with your next retreat!
Planning your next team-building retreat? Let us take the hassle out of logistics so you can focus on what truly matters – strengthening your team bonds!
🚗 Stress-free transfers
🏨 Quality-assured accommodations
🎯 Engaging team-building activities
🍽️ Restaurant reservations
🗺️ Expert retreat planning assistance
🔧 Onsite support, tailored to your needs
With Surf Office, we've got all the details covered. Your team deserves an unforgettable experience, and we're here to make it happen.
We have 130+ serene retreat locations in Europe, the US and Asia-Pacific areas, leaving you with the tough choice of narrowing down the best location!
Contact us now, and let's create a team-building retreat that will leave a lasting impact!