It’s current year, and virtual teams are on the rise in the business world. That’s a great thing! Or is it a bad thing? We don’t really know, and we’re definitely not wading into that debate in the business world. We’ll let the people on LinkedIn have that argument for the next few decades. What we’re here to talk about is company retreats, and why you should be having them at least once a year.
You’ve decided to rid yourself of your office space and allow (at least the majority of) your team to work from home. If that works for your business, more power to you. We’ve long talked about the benefits of annual company retreats, specifically how they’re beneficial to the strategic planning process, how they can aid in leadership development, and how they can be a great place for team building and team bonding.
Company retreats really become that much more important if your team is entirely virtual. They’re much more than a simple meet and greet once per year, and they can have remarkable benefits for virtual teams.
Putting Actual Faces to Virtual Faces
Back when Zoom and other video meeting platforms weren’t as popular, we used to talk about putting faces to names. We recognized the importance of seeing someone in person when we have only communicated with them via phone or email.
This concept still applies to people who have only met through virtual meetings.
A lot is lost when we are interacting with people through a screen. You lose out on the ability to read most body language and non-verbal cues, and you don’t form the same personal connections with people when they are only a face on a screen.
Company retreats give your team the opportunity to actually meet in person. They are personable, effective, and allow your employees to meet the faces they see on screen every week. People crave social interaction, and we are also (at least subconsciously) wired to prefer physical interactions. Meeting someone in person, shaking their hand, and spending time with them play to the very nature of humans; we are social animals who need tangible things and interactions.
More Effective Planning
Behavioral experts agree that face-to-face meetings are the best way to capture a person’s full attention. They eliminate the tendency for people to multitask and become distracted, both of which are inevitable when you are engaging with people via virtual meetings.
Whether it’s your intent to have a company retreat that is focused on strategic planning, leadership development, or to accomplish any other business goal, getting your employees away from their screens and into an isolated meeting place where they can interact in person will be far more effective.
Improving Morale, Engagement, and Teamwork
Retreats facilitate real-time, in-person communication that will carry over into purely virtual work settings, enhancing collaboration and reducing the chances of miscommunication. Everyone communicates differently, and not everything translates well over email and virtual interactions. When your team gets together, even if it’s only once or twice a year, they will learn how best to communicate with each other, both in person and through screens.
A change of environment and the chance to connect with colleagues on a personal level can also significantly boost team morale, contributing to higher levels of engagement and motivation. Employees, even those that prefer working from home, want to feel like they are a part of a team. That company culture gives them purpose and makes them excited to do the work they do on a day-to-day basis.
Retreats provide an opportunity to reinforce and strengthen your company culture and team dynamics. Shared experiences, team-building activities, and discussions about company values can contribute to a more cohesive and aligned virtual team culture. For virtual team members who may feel isolated, a company retreat will help create a sense of belonging, allowing them to feel connected to the larger team and the organization’s mission.
Solve Conflicts and Challenges
Retreats offer a dedicated space and time for teams to address challenges, resolve conflicts, and discuss strategies for improvement. Open and honest conversations during retreats can lead to a more effective virtual team dynamic. Now is the time for people to address the concerns they have been keeping cooped up in their home all year long. These are difficult conversations to have, but they can go a long way in improving your work environment and helping your virtual team members work harder and be happier.