Five people wearing khaki aprons stand around the left side of a metal-topped table in a kitchen. They're looking down at a couple of recipe printouts. Also on the table are a couple of glass bowls, some white and green onions, a large amount of leafy greens, and a bowl of various other vegetables.
Offices are for meetings. For a company retreat, get your team outside of the office for team-building and bonding activities, like cooking classes, city tours, or a spa day. — Getty Images/xavierarnau

With 26% of U.S. employees working remotely as of 2022, hosting a company retreat can be a much-needed way to keep teams engaged. This gathering is typically done in person and off-site (outside of the company’s office) to get employees from different locations together in the same place.

When done right, a company retreat can offer many benefits, from fostering creativity and increased collaboration in the workplace to establishing closer relationships between coworkers. It can also strengthen your team and drive success for your business. However, there are some critical mistakes you’ll want to avoid as you make your plans. If you’re considering hosting a company retreat, steer clear of these five potential pitfalls.

Forcing ‘fun’

Instead of assuming what your employees will enjoy doing, poll attendees on the kinds of games and icebreakers they’d like to participate in. Listen to what your team wants, understand their dynamics, and don’t try to “make a moment happen.”

Determine in advance any limitations and accessibility issues team members may have. Use this information to decide what physical activities and sports are right for your team to avoid leaving anybody out. Consider hosting activities such as hiking, karaoke, board games, spa or pampering time, or a walk in a new city. Find events that will interest your team and make them feel reinvigorated.

[Read More: 7 Company Retreat Activity Ideas Your Employees Will Love]

Making decisions without your team’s input

Another mistake companies often make when planning retreats is making unilateral decisions without listening to the entire team. If a company doesn’t consider the whole team’s input on logistics such as the date and length of the trip, location, and scheduled activities, employees won’t feel a sense of inclusion.

Instead, keep employees in the loop as you go and allow them to offer feedback when possible. Ensuring you don’t make all the decisions yourself will go a long way in creating an accessible and inclusive retreat everyone will enjoy.

Ensure your retreat is a success by planning each step ahead of time.

Not making time for team bonding

Team bonding is one of the most important benefits of a company retreat, as it brings employees together and creates a healthier and stronger work environment. While it doesn't have to be the focus of every activity, outright ignoring team bonding activities and moments may leave employees feeling bored, isolated, or disinterested.

Build time on your itinerary for structured activities such as preparing meals together or hosting team-building games and activities. Include unstructured free time, as well, to allow conversations to happen naturally.

Keeping it in the office

While some “social” events make sense to host in your company’s office, a retreat isn’t one of them. The purpose of a retreat is often to break the routine and spend some time with coworkers outside of your regular work environment. When retreats are hosted in-office, employees may feel pressured to return to their desks and get work done rather than enjoying themselves.

Consider a hotel, rental property, casino, craft space or art studio, dinner cruise, or — if funding allows — even a tropical resort to host your retreat. Whatever location you choose should be accessible to everybody on your team. This demonstrates that the priority of the retreat is to spend time together and boost company morale by celebrating and rewarding employees.

[Read more: How to Plan a Productive—and Enjoyable—Company Retreat]

Failing to plan

Ensure your retreat is a success by planning each step ahead of time. First, you’ll want to establish the goals for the retreat and consider some location options. If your employees will need to travel and you’re hosting a multi-day gathering, you’ll want to start planning at least six months in advance to allow time for booking flights and accommodations. If you’re planning to have guest speakers or vendors help with the retreat, you may also need to book them months in advance.

Take a step-by-step approach to plan your entire retreat from the moment you arrive until the last person leaves; this will help to avoid additional stress or having to rush around when the retreat time comes. That said, work some flexibility into your schedule in case any hiccups require plans to shift.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published November 29, 2022