Smaller remote teams have to put in extra work to establish their company culture early on. But how can you make a bonding experience memorable when you’re trying to stay lean and everywhere seems too far for someone?
We asked 10 entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) the following question:
“My team is spread out over the country. What is one piece of advice for planning a company retreat that’s amazing without overspending?”
Here’s what YEC community members had to say:
1. Avoid Major Cities
“We organize a company retreat every year, and the best lesson I’ve learned is to avoid major cities but not major airports. Basically find a city nearby (within a 30-minute drive) from a major airport. This helps you get cheap airfare as well as a more affordable and nicer private property. You can rent a car service and coordinate arrival/departure times to save money on transportation from airport.” ~ Syed Balkhi, OptinMonster
2. Make It a Virtual Retreat
“Retreats are about taking time out to work on major project, having clear time and space to think and networking. You can make that happen while staying in your current locations. Clear time, meetings and work loads for a day or two and offer that same time to your team to teleconference.” ~ Murray Newlands, Due.com
3. Negotiate Price
“It never hurts to ask, especially if you have a larger group. Let hotels, restaurants, transport and other services know you have numbers behind you and you’re looking for a deal. Many businesses will cut you some slack just for asking. And some might even surprise you. ” ~ Nicolas Gremion, Free-eBooks.net
4. Host a Cabin Getaway
“Rent a cabin for a weekend and fly your team in. Pay for groceries and cook together. Make it somewhere remote where people can disconnect from the outside world but connect with each other. ” ~ Michael Mogill, Crisp Video Group
5. Focus on Team Bonding
“Last year, Influence & Co. rented two large houses at a lake in Missouri and spent the entire retreat playing games and focusing on professional development while hanging out in the houses and in the park. We cooked meals in groups as a team (about 30 people at the time) and had a talent show where our employees provided the entertainment. It was not expensive but created amazing memories.” ~ Kelsey Meyer, Influence & Co.
6. Focus on Your Goal
“The secret to conducting an effective retreat isn’t wowing people with a fancy location or exciting activities. It’s having your whole team come in prepared and focused on a shared goal. Craft an agenda and stick to it, taking full advantage of the time you have together.” ~ Mary Ellen Slayter, Reputation Capital
7. Set an Intention
“Set an intention that everyone buys into. Everything you do should relate back to that intention. It will be an easy way of making sure you’re only spending time and money on the activities that are creating the most value for your team.” ~ Anthony Krumeich, Loom
8. Take a Hike
“You want a company retreat that is effective, but not expensive? Take a hike! Not only is hiking and camping economical, but studies have shown that immersing yourself in nature is a proven way to boost your creativity. We have had multiple company camping trips, and they have all been incredibly successful for team building, rejuvenation and not drawing ire from our investors.” ~ Joel Holland, VideoBlocks
9. Host the Retreat at Your Home
“Destination retreats are nice, but they are expensive and they feel more like vacations than work-related strategy. If you want to send your team on a destination, send them on a vacation with their family. However, if you want to really personalize and create a sense of connection and unity (perfect for strategic planning), host the event at your home. ” ~ Obinna Ekezie, Wakanow.com
10. Piggyback on a Conference
“Our business is spread remotely throughout the country (Minnesota, Nevada, Texas, and North Carolina). We take advantage of industry conferences to get the entire team together. Not only does this save on cost, but it gives us a very focused business atmosphere. There is plenty of time for fun, dinners, and team building activities as well.” ~ Mark Daoust, Quiet Light Brokerage, Inc.
Handmade Soap Photo via Shutterstock
Going out on a retreat can do wonders to a team’s morale. It makes them more keen on doing their work and more keen on putting out outputs.
Asheville, NC seems to fit the bill for many of these ideas — not a major city,numerous houses and cabins for rent, with inspiring mountain views, hiking trails galore in national forests and parks, and abundant river rafting companies, and not expensive.