Your Guide to Discover the Best Activities for Your Next Corporate Retreat
As a company specializing in planning company retreats, at Unicorn Labs, we know the first thing people think about when mentioning team-building is forced, corny icebreaker activities.
Team building does NOT have to be cliché.
In fact, you can capitalize on out-of-the-box team-building ideas to get the most out of your corporate retreat and help achieve team goals.
No matter what industry you're in, or the size of your team, you need a solid team to thrive.
Every company has its own specific needs, but strong bonds between each member are necessary regardless of other factors.
Team leaders try their best to foster a collaborative environment for their team, but sometimes a boost is needed — that's where corporate team-building retreats play an important role.
By allowing your employees to engage outside of the workplace and giving them opportunities to build stronger relationships, you're giving them the gift of connecting more effectively than in the office.
All social stigma and expectations are pushed to the side, which creates an opportunity for the team to relate to each other in new and captivating ways.
Team retreats are a rare occasion where spontaneous moments arise, and hilarious memories among coworkers are formed. The primary reason we go on retreats is to spend quality time together in a beautiful environment.
Below are some guidelines to select the perfect activities for your team. You will also find examples of team-building exercises that we know (after years of hosting retreats) have the most significant impact on teams.
Incorporate them in your next company retreat, and we look forward to hearing about your results!
Table of Contents:
Everything Starts With a Solid Plan
Choosing the right activities to incorporate at your corporate retreat is one of the most critical components of a successful trip.
Keeping in mind it's impossible to pick something everyone will be happy with. But as a rule of thumb, as long as the activity is more dynamic than listening to a keynote speaker in a conference room for three hours, everyone should enjoy whatever activity you choose.
You'll need to schedule activities far in advance and make sure they're accessible for the whole team to participate.
What your team wants to do and your company retreat’s goals must equally be at the top of your mind when choosing activities.
When selecting activities, your inspiration should come from the question: How does this activity align with the goal?
One of the most common goals companies choose for their retreat planning is building a sense of togetherness. Togetherness in a sense of connectivity by bringing everyone away from their monitors to in-person interactions.
Some common secondary goals are:
- Strengthening communication.
- Resolve tension.
- Identifying problems and brainstorming solutions.
- Planning activities that create inclusion among people who don't directly work together.
The activities you choose can also significantly impact your retreat budget. Use this budget planner tool to stay on track!
You can put each activity into these three categories below:
Team bonding activities are fun. These are social activities that allow us to sweat, laugh and get to know each other.
This category can include any sport or leisure activity and involves no reflective work (such as those listed in the team building category).
We may be biased with our headquarters being in a country with so much natural beauty (Canada), but planning at least one outdoor activity is beneficial to your team.
The fresh air and exercise will help energize the team and make time for some vital informal socializing.
It can be a rewarding experience to feel the spirit of adventure and nature as a team.
- Company trivia
- Scavenger hunts
- Paddlesports (stand-up paddleboarding, canoeing, kayaking)
- Bike tours
- Cooking/cocktail-making class
- Floor/ball hockey
- Beach volleyball/volleyball
- Rock climbing/climbing wall
- Escape room
- Wine tasting
- Vineyard tour
- Scuba diving
Volleyball, bowling, or frisbee tend to be the most popular team retreat sports in our experience. They're fun, easy to play, allow space for large groups, and are not too difficult to pick up if someone hasn't played them before.
It's an easy way for everyone to work together and get exercise at the same time — it's always a blast to play games together!
Learning something new as a team can be a positive experience as well. Many of the activities listed above can be turned into educational activities (i.e. skiing lessons, pottery lessons, golf lessons, tennis lessons, etc.). The main goal of taking part in learning something new as a group is to encourage team bonding through knowledge, discovery, and learning.
Team Building is the intentional work towards making teams better.
This activity category is crucial for constructing a positive and influential company culture.
Team-building retreats provide a perfect framework for making serious headway in this department.
It can take many forms such as: DISC workshops, Gallups Strengths Workshop, Team Canvas Workshop, doing team Retros to unpack what is working and what needs to improve and doing a 360 Team Dynamics Assessment.
Team building helps:
- Foster an environment of teamwork.
- Increase team unity.
- Build compassion and empathy between team members.
- Help employees understand their role in company processes.
- Help employees see how their vision and the company vision coincide with working towards positive outcomes.
Having fun and bonding as a team are the primary goals of any company retreat. Yet, another important goal is to identify problems and brainstorm potential solutions.
Team Strategy activities help the team understand their:
These goals can be reached by making OKRs, role clarity, and outlining decision-making principles for everyone.
Creating a strategic plan as a group is an activity that helps achieve all goals in this category.
Gather team feedback by using some (or all) of these questions:
- Where was our company a year ago?
- Where is our company now, in comparison to that?
- What's improved?
- What's gotten worse?
- What's stayed the same?
- What has changed?
- What hasn't changed?
- Where do you see our company in the future?
- Is this a good or bad direction? And if it's bad, how do we change it now?
Give your team enough time to dive into these questions. Allow them to genuinely contribute by giving them space to be 100% honest.
Unicorn Labs' team retreats include team-building activities such as leadership development, personality discovery, communication workshops, strategic planning, etc.
To see a more detailed outline of what our team retreats have to offer you, check out the retreats page on our website.
REMEMBER: team retreats aren't a vacation.
It's a chance for everyone to contribute to and work towards growth, learning, and development that benefits the company and each other.
Employees will expect a combination of learning experiences and fun.
Planning team-building events and activities to support your goals is a winning strategy.
Should I Make All Activities Mandatory?
When planning a team retreat, remember that optionality is essential.
Even if you think the activities you've selected are fun and exciting, you need to be realistic and not take it personally if a few people want to sit it out.
Some people can't handle spending a lot of time with a large group of people, especially for a few days in a row.
To cater to the needs of everyone, provide a variety of activities while allowing people to make their own choices. The result will be a happy team who feel respected and heard.
That being said, this doesn't mean employees shouldn't be encouraged to participate. Retreats can be an excellent opportunity for people to go outside their usual comfort zones and try new things in a supportive environment.
Be Careful of Poorly Planned Retreats
Without careful planning, corporate retreats can potentially overwhelm and exhaust your team. Leaving you with the opposite result you expected.
Instead of leaving the retreat re-energized and inspired, they'll be annoyed and resentful.
A successful retreat requires a schedule balanced with meaningful work time, a variety of activities, and plenty of free time.
It's a good idea to plan blocks of time where staff can decompress and explore independently. Giving everyone room to do their own thing with whomever they want on their own time.
Never underestimate the rejuvenating power of scheduled downtime.
It's one of the simplest ways to resolve any team tension.
Necessary Retreat Activity: The Unplanned Evening
One of the best activities you can schedule for your team is an evening where everyone can relax with no set schedule.
Prep some drinks and snacks, put on some upbeat music, enjoy the sunset, and spend time together.
Your jobs connect your team, but this activity helps emphasize everyone is more than just coworkers.
Your team is a community, and you have your own culture and your own unique members and identities.
By taking time to be together and casually enjoy one another's presence, you'll be doubling down on what is perhaps the most important lesson of the whole retreat.
The overarching goal is to foster care for one another on an individual level. When your company brings this attitude back to the office after the retreat's over, it'll do wonders for the morale and culture of all.
A company retreat brings people together, creates opportunities to have fun, gives people to spend time outside of the office, and allows employees to connect in a positive environment.
It's also a way for you to show your team how much you care about the company culture by the thought you put into each part of the planning process.
The more time you put into planning activities in advance, the more enjoyable the retreat will be for everyone.
Short on time? Interested in more ideas? Need some professional guidance on how to take your next retreat from boring and basic to memorable and productive?
Don't hesitate to reach out by booking a free consultation — we can help you create the ideal environment so you can watch your team bond, grow and thrive.
Here's a tool we made to make retreat planning a little easier ⤵️