By Bond Collective Staff
Virtual retreat ideas are one of the best ways to bring your employees together and to foster a sense of cooperation and engagement.
And with more and more business being conducted online by a remote workforce, it’s more important than ever for owners and managers to make every effort to keep their teams unified.
In this article, we discuss the best virtual retreat ideas and how you can organize and run an event that everyone will enjoy.
What Is A Virtual Retreat?
No list of virtual retreat ideas would be complete without a brief overview of what, exactly, constitutes a virtual retreat.
To get a clearer picture, it’s useful to compare a virtual retreat to a more familiar event: an in-person retreat.
An in-person retreat (a.k.a. corporate retreat, company retreat, and business retreat) is a gathering that focuses on providing opportunities for team members to bond in a non-work setting while still maintaining a professional atmosphere.
You may spend a bit of time discussing topics such as your business’s mission or vision statement, how to stay organized at work, or how to keep productivity high, but, for the most part, the objective of a retreat is to improve teamwork, collaboration, and morale.
The same is true of a virtual retreat. The only difference between the two is how and where they’re run.
Virtual retreats — as the name suggests — take place online via a video-conferencing app that allows a large number of individuals to connect and interact.
Even though participants are not actually physically present, the goal remains the same: give team members the opportunity to take a break from normal work responsibilities, socialize, learn new skills, and boost engagement.
With that in mind, we now turn our attention to the meat and potatoes of this article: virtual meeting ideas and how to get started.
Virtual Retreat Etiquette
Whatever virtual retreat ideas you choose to include in your event, it’s always good to start things off with a brief review of good video-meeting etiquette.
You and your team are going to be spending a lot of time together online, so take a few minutes to establish a set of best practices that everyone can abide by to make the experience enjoyable for all.
Include such topics as:
How to troubleshoot the meeting software (keep it as simple as possible)
Basic software controls
Acceptable behavior during the meeting
Dress and grooming for the virtual meeting
Silencing cell phones and landline phones
Keeping track of mute status
Turning video off if you need to get up
Keep in mind that the items above are just suggestions and that you can customize your virtual retreat etiquette to fit the way your team works.
And whatever topics you do address, try to keep the review to 30 minutes or less so you can get into the meat of the program — your virtual retreat ideas — sooner.
For a more in-depth discussion of how to convey a professional image online, take a few minutes to read this article from the Bond Collective blog: Virtual Meeting Etiquette: 9 Rules Every Professional Should Follow.
Virtual Retreat Ideas
1) Field Trip
A favorite on our list of virtual retreat ideas is the field trip.
This might seem impossible given that your remote team may be joining the retreat from different cities, states, or even countries.
But with modern technology, it’s easy to take a virtual tour of the British Museum, the Louvre, or even the Great Wall of China.
You can even invite employees’ family members to attend for a bonding experience like no other.
The second of our virtual retreat ideas — Bingo — is a tried-and-true favorite both online and off.
Your team is probably familiar with the short version of the game that is popular at virtual happy hours around the world.
Virtual retreat bingo, however, works best as an ongoing game that lasts throughout the entire event.
Challenge attendees to get to know their teammates and to connect five squares across, down, or diagonally (without using the same coworker’s name twice in one line) by learning facts such as:
Built a website
Appeared on TV
Runs a blog
Climbed a mountain
Get creative and make up your own Bingo board or download a template from the internet.
3) Awards Show
An awards show is one of the best virtual retreat ideas for combining fun and recognition.
Your awards show can be as fancy or as simple as you like — even going so far as to require dresses, suits, hairdos, and makeup.
Come up with a variety of awards that range from the humorous — best child or pet interruption during a video call, best remote work location — to the serious and thoughtful.
4) Meal Gift Cards
The food at the in-person company retreat is a major draw for most employees (unless you’re doing survival training in the wilderness).
The virtual retreat makes gathering together for a meal impossible. But, while you can’t take your team to a fancy restaurant, you can send the fancy restaurant to them.
Provide your team with meal gift cards so they can have food delivered to their door and invite everyone to eat together online.
When considering which virtual retreat ideas to use during your event, take into consideration how much your business is saving on expenses such as travel, room rentals, and entertainment.
A great way to make your retreat special is to spend some of the money you saved on prizes for attendees.
Offer items such as equipment for the home office, time off, or bonuses as door prizes or rewards for random-raffle and game winners.
6) Murder Mystery
Murder mystery games have always been popular at in-person retreats, so it’s no wonder that we included them on our list of virtual retreat ideas.
Whether your team members play the role of the deceased, the suspect, or the sleuth, everyone will have a good time trying to figure out whodunnit.
A simple search online reveals a long list of virtual murder mystery options to choose from.
7) Escape Games
If you thought the murder mystery was fun, escape games are right up there on our list of virtual retreat ideas.
In an online escape game, teams compete in a timed contest to complete puzzles and solve riddles with the goal of escaping the room before the other team.
Again, a simple search online reveals a long list of escape games teams of all sizes will enjoy.
8) Inclusion Exercises
As virtual retreat ideas go, inclusion exercises are the perfect way to make everyone feel appreciated and valued.
Schedule time to discuss workplace inclusion with your team and to express how much you value your employees’ thoughts, ideas, and perspectives.
For more information on how to foster workplace inclusion, check out this article from the Bond Collective blog: Workplace Inclusion: 8 Ways To Build An Inclusive Work Environment.
One of the simplest virtual retreat ideas on this list is the trivia game.
You can use an online source, the Trivial Pursuit board game, or make up your own questions for hours of good, healthy fun.
There are so many different ways to incorporate a trivia game into your virtual retreat, that, with a little creativity, we’re sure you’ll find the right fit for your team and your event.
When the majority of your employees are part of a distributed team, it is difficult — if not impossible — to brainstorm solutions to problems.
Use your virtual retreat to remind all your remote workers just how powerful a tool brainstorming is.
Come up with a topic, break into small groups, and challenge attendees to work together to come up with a solution.
Reconvene as one large group and designate individuals to present their group’s solution to the rest of their coworkers.
Virtual Retreat Ideas Done Right
Another fundamental piece of a productive virtual retreat is the space from which you run said event.
The best option is to conduct all your virtual retreat ideas from a conference room or professional workspace.
The coworking spaces at Bond Collective are the perfect places to make your virtual retreat ideas manifest.
Bond Collective provides everything you need to host your next team gathering:
Private meeting rooms
Private phone booths
Fast, reliable WiFi and Ethernet connections
Unlimited black and white printing
Access to other portfolio locations
And other industry-leading amenities
Visit any one of Bond Collective’s many locations in the United States, including workspaces in New York, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., Illinois, California, Tennessee, and Texas. Or call us today to find out more about everything we have to offer.
And while you’re at it, schedule a tour to experience first-hand how the boutique work environments at Bond Collective can benefit your business.