Team retreats for retention and reflection: The importance of meetups for fully remote companies

There are companies that do staff retreats, and then there are companies that live and breathe for them.

Modern Tribe is a distributed company that has organized nearly 60 retreats for their team since 2007. If that’s not impressive enough, during this same time frame, they also managed to scale their business from 20 to 120 employees and contractors.

Today we talk with Shane Pearlman, the CEO of Modern Tribe, to learn more about his fully distributed design and development company and the way they use offsite meetings to connect, solve problems and advocate for strong business practices and personal wellness.

Take a listen to the short interview and keep scrolling for the highlights ?

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The art and science of retreats

While most companies have one type of retreat that they host annually, Modern Tribe has three different types of retreats with different participants and goals that they host throughout the year.

Shane breaks them down into these categories:

  1. Team building retreats, where the entire company is invited. These retreats are held once per year with the purpose of building trust amongst the team and showing remote employees that they can depend on one another.
  2. Vision retreats, reserved for the leadership team. At these retreats, the group sits down to talk about the company, its future and in general, get a birds’ eye view of their current situation and company landscape.
  3. Strategy or tactical retreats are meant for specific teams within the company to get together and solve a problem. At these retreats, team members tackle a specific issue and don’t walk away until it’s solved. The perfect opportunity for a design sprint!

Creating a picture of the company landscape

During vision retreats, the leaders behind Modern Tribe sit down and ask each other a series of fundamental questions, starting with:

“Is this still a company I want to own?”

By asking themselves crucial questions about the organization, they find ways to improve their business and make themselves and their people happier.

In addition to asking themselves these fundamental questions, the partners also focus in on how they can support and better improve their 6 Fs:

  1. Friendship
  2. Family
  3. Fitness
  4. Finance
  5. Faith
  6. Fun
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Improving employee retention

In the initial stages, Modern Tribe was a team of around 30 people with a turnover rate of about 4 years. Not too shabby for a tech company but Shane and the rest of the leadership team wanted to improve employee retention.

So during a staff retreat, they sat down with their employees and contractors and asked:

"What would it take to have 4 more years with you in the company?"

The answer was loud and clear: "We want a focused career path."

From that conversation, Shane and his partners created a business structure focused on two things:

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For additional knowledge on team retreats and the remote work lifestyle, subscribe to the More Beach Meetings podcast and catch new episodes every other Wednesday!


This episode includes recordings from Ouzo Bazooka.

This episode was produced by Surf Office and our host Carson Sweezy.

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