Team Retreats Are the Key to a Successful Hybrid Work Model

happily events EXP Retreat 2018

The office, as we know it, is over,” says the CEO of Airbnb, Brian Chesky, “It is an anachronistic form factor from a pre-digital age.”


With this shift, a new approach to “company culture” must emerge.

Pre-pandemic, the office was an important tool for building company culture and productivity. Companies would spend millions to make their offices feel like a home away from home. You could bring your dog to work, get a massage, catch up with a co-worker on fancy furniture in company colors over a free cup of artisanal coffee. The best companies even let you work from home on Fridays.

Now, the home is actually the office. According to the Harvard Business Review, nearly half of employees claim they would leave a position if required to work from the office full-time. While around 40% of GenX and millennial participants stated that they would turn down a job offer if it didn't include travel, according to TravelPerk.

So we have become masters of Zoom/Teams/Slack/Discord. However, despite all these transformations towards a digital world, one thing still remains unmoved: the most meaningful connections happen in person. “Zoom is great for maintaining relationships, but it's not the best way to deepen them,” admits Chesky. “And some creative work is best done in the same room.”

A virtual daily work environment needs to be balanced with substantial in-person experiences. This is where the team retreat comes into play. Company retreats, corporate retreats, team outings, staff retreats, groups retreats, executive leadership team retreats, all hands team meetings - whatever you call them - can be essential to the success of any organization, and especially those with a remote work model. As part of the changes in Airbnb’s work design, they stated that employees will “meet up regularly for team gatherings. Most employees will connect in person every quarter for about a week at a time (some more frequently).” This approach of working virtually daily and meeting in-person quarterly is what will need to be a standardized practice for remote workers and organizations of all sizes and scopes.

The experiences of team retreats - the shared adventures, the face-to-face communication, the social connection - all have a direct and meaningful impact on employees, teams, departments, and organizations. As social creatures, humans will always benefit from meaningful interactions, community building and organic engagement with others. A feeling of isolation can hinder a team in a remote work situation, and company retreats are a direct and highly effective way of strengthening the social and professional connections between employees. When team members socialize, communication patterns can improve by more than 50% (source: TeamBuilding), while 81% of millennial employees believe they work more effectively when they have time in person with their co-workers (source: Forbes).

happily events EXP Retreat 2018

Team retreats should be customized for a workplace and designed for the needs of an organization. Team retreats are most effective when they have clear business objectives, and balance those goals with engaging social experiences that align with the values of the company, as well as the general interests of the team members. Corporate retreats can be structured and divided in whatever way feels best. A company wide retreat is perhaps a more classic approach, however, that may not be the right choice for every organization all the time.

Here are some various types of team retreats to consider:

Annual Retreats

Executive Leadership Team Retreats (Onsite): C-Suite leaders and board members meet for a day or two to strategize on the company’s goals and explore new ideas for growth.

All Hands Team Retreats (Hybrid): Employees gather once a year for a 2-3 day retreat to present their work to other departments and align around big news from the company.

Quarterly Meetings

Departmental (Onsite): Smaller groups who work remotely meet up once a quarter in an office environment to whiteboard ideas, meet new teammates for the first time, and agree on shared milestones.

Innovation Sprints (Onsite): The ultimate brainstorming experience to develop and pitch ideas, with a focus on creativity and inspiration that builds customer empathy and relaxation.

Top-performers (Onsite): Invite selected employees to recognize their outstanding performance, celebrate their hard work, as well center their valuable feedback and ideas for innovation.

Town Halls (Hybrid): Regular or semi-regular gatherings to give employees an opportunity to share general company updates, as well as socialize with each other and connect.

happily events EXP Retreat 2018

(Images: EXP Retreat 2018 produced by Happily. Read case study here.)

Our Happily Experiential Team are experts in crafting world-class experiences customized for your organization.

Whatever your vision is, whatever mood you want to create, or any customized solutions you may be after, Team Happily is here for full service guidance, design and production of your next corporate retreat. From arranging transportation, accommodation, local vendors, strategizing agenda, technology solutions, catering and beyond - we happily produce all aspects and areas. Arrange a chat with us and together we can get started on creating a custom retreat experience that you and your team will love.