You've probably heard the expression, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” This proverbial saying continues to hold true, even in the age of remote working, and the great pivot to virtual and hybrid workforces. One of the greatest challenges company leaders and organizers face today is building connectivity and cohesion between employees working from different locations, some from the office and others from home.
And one way to do this is through hosting team retreats that bring everyone together to have fun and socialize.
Retreats, as we all know, allow colleagues to relax, recharge, exchange ideas, work through their problems, and get to know each other better. This also leads to organizational benefits, such as a rise in productivity and creativity.
But how does this work with a hybrid or virtual workforce? How can you plan a company event when some of your attendees are at the physical venue and the others are tuning in virtually? Designing a hybrid or virtual team retreat comes with its own sets of challenges and will require extra planning. But with the right ideas, the right tools, and the right virtual platform, you’ll be able to deliver an experience that everyone will be raving about all year.
Designing a virtual or hybrid retreat
To start, remember to accommodate the behaviorisms and needs of both your virtual and in-person team members; for one, no one wants to remain glued to their screen for hours on end. You want to reinvigorate your team, not contribute to digital burnout. Your schedule of activities, therefore, requires intentionality and attention to detail. Here are a few tips to help you with this:
1. Plan in a mix of time-sensitive activities and recorded sessions
One of the biggest benefits of organizing a hybrid or virtual retreat is that every employee can participate, regardless of where they are located. But this also means you’ll need to take into account time zones when planning your scheduling to ensure that important activities can be attended by a majority of your team.
So for instance, you can kickstart your retreat with a pre-recorded video of your company’s year so far and major milestones accomplished - a unifying experience for everyone. In fact, we would recommend making all sessions available as recordings so those unable to join live can watch them at their convenience. You can also consider hosting sessions that go live at different times for different time zones, but with the same content.
You’ll also need to plan in activities that bring team members together such as Networking sessions. Give your attendees a variety of options so that they can choose that which is most convenient for them.
2. Choose a venue suitable for both in-person and virtual attendees
This can be tricky. Most team or company retreats are usually held at holiday locations, away from the city so that employees can relax and have fun at the beach or mountains. You can still do so, provided you find a venue at the location with the capability and technology to host a hybrid event.
Remember that you’ll need a space that can accommodate your in-person attendees, and can support a high-quality event production, such as audiovisual equipment, streaming capabilities, reliable Wi-Fi, and on-site experts. Virtual and in-person attendees need to be able to see each other, and talk to each other in real-time. You want to create an experience that is interactive, engaging, and free of buffering issues. The last thing you want is for your virtual attendees to feel like second-class citizens at an event that is all about making everyone feel valued and supported.
3. Keep things interactive
Central to your hybrid or virtual team retreat is creating spaces and facilitating discussions that are lively, inclusive, and fun - which you can do by leveraging the features of your virtual event platform. Here’s how:
- Host small group sessions and team-building activities (click here to read some ideas you can steal) by using virtual Breakaway Rooms. You can use these rooms to let virtual and in-person attendees go simply socialize and just chat, or for brainstorming sessions, inter-team roundtable discussions, etc.
- Boost team and company camaraderie and cohesion through Networking sessions. If you use a virtual event platform like Zuddl, you’ll be able to employ Smart Networking, which matches attendees based on mutual interests (Click here to read more about Smart Networking in detail). This is a simple way to create authentic 1:1 connections.
- Make every attendee feel seen and heard through the use of in-platform attendee engagement tools. Chat, Polls, Q&A are all simple but powerful ways for everyone to feel like they are in the same space, ‘seen’, and connected.
- Gamify activities to make engagement more fun! Setting points to tasks can nudge your team members into participating more, especially if there’s a reward to those who score the most. Gamifying actions or activities like networking or team challenges is a clever way to motivate your team and make the event experience more productive and fun for everyone.
4. Give everyone company swag
If you do plan to host your team retreat at a fancy hotel or exotic location, find ways to make virtual attendees feel pampered as well. This could be as simple as sending them meals and gifts that in-person attendees receive such as personalized gift hampers and goodie bags.
5. Choose the right technology
For a hybrid or virtual retreat that effectively brings your team together, you first need a virtual platform that can facilitate this. Look for solutions like Zuddl that has a range of features and tools you can use to bridge the gap between in-person and virtual attendees such as Networking or Chat, and that makes the retreat a fun experience for everyone, like Gamification.
To sum up...
Energized employees, tight-knit teams, fun workplaces - all are essential components of a successful organization. Done right, your hybrid or virtual team retreat can help nurture all three. With the right planning, platform and tools, you will be able to curate a remarkable experience that drives long-lasting value.