Are Company Retreats The Future Of Team Building?

Studies show the benefits of offsite retreats that provide opportunities to explore and be active are much higher than typical team building activities.

Published on
June 27, 2018

Some team building activities are bad, really bad - and it is the reason team building in general has a bad name. In the name of finding a solution, and saving us all from the dreaded trust falls there are many out there hypothesizing that the future of team building will be virtual - just pop on a head set, play video games and bond over virtual rope courses. 

Here at Outsite, we definitely understand that team building and company retreats in mainstream corporate culture need to improve, but we’re not so sure that head sets are the answer - nor are better, but still annoying team building games.  Instead, we believe going offsite and giving your team opportunities to explore and be active together will become more common, as the benefits of this approach are much higher than typical team building, and eye-rolls are non-existent.


Why typical team building activities fall short:

1. They are riddled with barriers, and can feel forced. When an activity, let's say a ropes course, is used for team building, often the one person cowering in the corner, becomes the team's focus. The team can't complete the course without the person, and that person simply can't complete the task for their singular, crippling reason. Instead of being about the team, the activity now focuses on the individual, and while the team rallies around them, the win becomes an individual success instead of a group accomplishment. 

2. It's often a throwaway activity. Squeezed for time, the activity is put together last minute. Inexperienced practitioners coupled with people who aren't excited to be in the room, and team building can actually be team breaking. Trust falls are a good example of this. 

3. Team building becomes a separate activity from the retreat. The team building exercises might actually interrupt work or down time in which the team is actually bonding. Remember, your employees are not children and should not be treated as such.  So, how can you facilitate employee bonding and keep teams engaged? 

Avoid Hotels

Yes, going offsite has better results than onsite retreats, however, going offsite will do little good if every staff member is in a separate hotel room watching movies or working during their free time. Outsite’s coliving model allows team members to have their own space when needed, but also experience daily life with colleagues. This allows for more chances for unforced, natural interactions.  Outsite also offers home-cooked team dinners. Cooking is a great team building activity with edible, budget-friendly results.


Don’t Micromanage

Sometimes it's better to plan a fun activity like skiing, surf lessons, or hiking and then let the teammates decide how to best use these activities to foster team building.

According to a study conducted by the Harvard Business Review, teammates who connect directly with each other — and not just the team leader — work more efficiently and with greater overall success. Offsite retreats allow teams to problem solve in everyday (fun) situations, without the direction of a team building activity leader who might end up being the focus-point for your team. Additionally, don’t force members to partake in activities they don’t want to. Outsite provides a good balance between outdoor/urban and physical/relaxing activities, so everyone feels included. 

Don’t be boring 

In 1974, Donald Dutton and Arthur Aron studied the effects of fear on attraction and found that individuals are more likely to be drawn to someone when placed in a scary situation. While we don’t suggest incorporating a haunted house into your agenda, this study raises some good points about the effect of environment on connection.

Environments or activities that are new or exciting to your team, like skiing, surfing, or hiking up a big mountain will increase the likelihood of longterm benefits and is a better investment for your team’s time and your company’s money.

In conclusion…

The Harvard Business Review found that contented employees have 31 percent higher productivity, generate 37 percent more sales, and are three times more creative than their disengaged counterparts. So, avoid trust falls and bored employees, and instead, try a new kind of company retreat.  

Words: Annie Brown // Trust Fall Survivor

Photographs: Outsite

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