8 tips for fostering team-wide connection at your next retreat

Organizing a team event may seem like a simple, one-and-done task. In reality, if you can nail your team retreat, it will majorly benefit your company’s culture and collaboration in the long term. 


At Marco, we have ample experience planning events across the world for nearly every type of business. Today, we’ll share our top tips and tricks for fostering stronger team-wide connections and energy throughout your next retreat.  

What are your retreat goals?
Tip #1: Plan your retreat with a goal in mind

Giving your off-site a well-defined objective solidifies the purpose of every scheduled session — keeping your team engaged all the way through. Take it from the team at Medium. When they came to Marco, they had one simple request: an off-site for deep, meaningful work. Thanks to our white-glove service, the Medium team could offload the logistical headaches of retreat planning and focus on planning next steps and sussing out new ideas. 

As Cameron Smith-Price, Recruiting & People Ops Lead at Medium, shares: “Several people said this was the best company off-site because so much thought was put into the purpose of our meeting and making sure everything — from the venue to the activities — was in support of that.” 

See how we applied this tip to our own retreat!
Tip #2: Forget the usual online agenda

When you have your team gathered in front of you, it can be tempting to pull up a PowerPoint deck and take the mic. However, your company retreat should feel like the opposite of a Zoom call. Instead, to make the most of your team’s time together, focus on ditching the typical workday agenda and lean into in-person, relationship-building activities. 

That’s what the team at Alpha Exploration Co. decided to do while partnering with Marco to plan an off-site — and the results were impressive. In the words of Janet Kim, Executive Assistant at Alpha Exploration Co.: “We came out of this retreat with stronger, happier relationships, inside jokes, and excitement about the company — all of this thanks to Marco.”

Tip #3: Unplug with some laptop-free sessions

If your team operates remotely, they’ve likely had more than enough screen time at home. That’s why putting away the devices at your retreat can be the perfect way to nurture focus, mindfulness, and collaboration. 

Apart from encouraging employees to leave laptops behind for certain portions of the retreat, you can bring printed meeting notes and double down on the live, physical aspects of discussions or activities. You'll be amazed by your team’s creativity when everyone is fully present and engaged.

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Tip #4: Give everyone options (including yourself)

Asking your employees to attend every event you’ve planned is a tall order. To go easy on their bandwidth (and their social batteries), you should clearly communicate which experiences are mandatory vs. optional. This way, you can also ensure your executive leadership attends any required sessions, which sets a positive example for the team.

Tip #5: Appoint a “final decision-maker”

Having a thick skin helps you tackle workplace challenges head-on — and the same goes for difficulties with company event planning. Take it from the team at Cytovale. When they set out to organize their first in-person event in two years, they encountered several roadblocks. As Jax Larrecou-Whipple, Executive Assistant at Cytovale, describes: “We had such an accelerated timeline, and we rescheduled three times. I knew I’d need a partner to pull it off.”

To deal with these kinds of unexpected situations quickly and efficiently, consider enlisting a “final decision-maker” to support you. Whether this is a co-worker who knows the retreat's objective and itinerary inside-out or a trusted event agency like Marco, it will ultimately be a game-changer for your event planning.

Tip #6: Focus on building rapport

It can be tricky to break down silos and build rapport between your company’s C-suite and individual contributors. This is especially true for remote-first teams. Knowing this, in-person, company-wide retreats are an invaluable opportunity for employees to connect with leadership — that is, as long as execs make the time to sit in on sessions and join for a cup of coffee. 

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Tip #7: Show your team their feedback & ideas matter

In order to collect vital feedback and show you value your teammates’ ideas, consider handing out both pre- and post-retreat surveys. Of course, you can often tell whether an event went well by simply looking at people’s faces, but this will tell you even more about your team’s additional needs and objectives. 

Overall, there are multiple potential channels to get your employees to share their thoughts on recent team events — and Marco can help you select the one that’s right for your company.

Tip #8: When in doubt, go back to your original goal

Whenever you find yourself second-guessing, always come back to your retreat's main objective (step 1). Whatever purpose you set for the event will essentially be your guiding light, helping you make decisions that align with the ultimate business goal. As Brittany Jezouit, Chief of Staff at Medium, shares: “Having an off-site that is really specific in its purpose and intended outcomes does a lot to accelerate the overall work and progress of our company.” 

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