Retreats are now regaining appeal after Covid-19 lockdowns forced teams to work purely from home.
Corporate retreats are back in vogue. They are perceived as an efficient way to build a company culture among employees, especially after the Covid-19 hiatus when many people worked from home.
It wasn’t too long ago that retreats were frowned upon. The exotic excursions for the happy few in upper management started to be seen as an extravagant expense. One of the most egregious examples was the AIG Group junket to a luxury hotel in Monarch Beach, California. It was during the middle of the Great Recession, and the insurance corporation’s executives were negotiating a $150 billion bailout with the government. Nevertheless, they took time to go away on a retreat and spent $400,000 during a single week.
Retreats are now regaining appeal, especially after Covid-19 lockdowns. “We are a fairly young company,” says Denise Bindelglass, chief people officer of Sanity.io. During the pandemic, the number of employees grew to 100, half in Europe and half in North America. “Many had been hired during the previous 12 months; they never met their teammates or their boss,” she adds. Therefore, the CEO, based in California but Norwegian-born, decided to take everybody, along with the board members, to the Fyri resort in Norway. The objective: “Build camaraderie through biking adventures, games, a bonfire” and a few work sessions.
Jack Ezon, the founder of Embark Beyond, a luxury travel agency, is also a big believer in the virtue of corporate retreats to secure the loyalty of his 200 employees. “It is difficult to find good people and keep them,” he asserts. Three days of workshops, dances, barbecues and a pajama party in the Bahamas was one way to encourage them to stay.
The chosen destinations are not always far away. Laguna Beach, California–based WCM Investment went to a ranch in Montana; Salesforce has its own Trailblazer Ranch, near its home base of San Francisco—proving that there’s no need to fly far to mix pleasure and brainstorming.