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The 5 Keys to a Profitable Group Retreat within the Age of COVID – Good Passive Earnings


As chances are you’ll know, Group SPI is utterly distant! This implies we do not typically get the possibility to get collectively in individual—apart from our annual summits. In the course of the difficult final ~two years of COVID, that in-person expertise has been… exhausting to return by. That’s why this previous summer time, with vaccines lastly a actuality, SPI management felt it was vital for morale and planning to get our entire workforce collectively in individual safely if we may.

I am Sara Jane Hess, and I’m the senior manufacturing supervisor at SPI. It might sound odd {that a} manufacturing supervisor is speaking about planning a workforce summit, however as soon as upon a time I used to be the operations supervisor and deliberate a number of of our previous in-person occasions. When our earlier operations supervisor introduced she was leaving, I stepped in to assist plan this yr’s summit and get all the main points in place. This included discovering and reserving venues, eating places, and actions, amongst different issues.

On this put up I’ll share the 5 greatest concerns that went into planning and executing what was finally a enjoyable and profitable retreat. I hope it’s useful for you for those who’re fascinated by placing collectively your individual in-person occasion to your distant workforce, particularly within the period of COVID.

Desk of Contents

  1. Choose a Nice Location (We Selected Denver)
  2. Make Positive You’re COVID Protected
  3. Make the Most of Your Working Time
  4. Eat Some Nice Meals
  5. Have Some Enjoyable

1. Choose a Nice Location (We Selected Denver)

We thought of just a few completely different areas for internet hosting our retreat, together with Columbus (the place Matt lives) and San Diego (the place Pat lives), however we finally determined to go together with Denver, Colorado (which additionally occurs to be the place I dwell). 

We selected Denver for just a few causes, however the primary one was that it was a extra central location for all members of the workforce, provided that three of our workforce members dwell in Denver or inside a 90-minute drive of the town.

Selecting a spot the place staff already dwell is not a should, however it’s a nice-to-have for just a few causes:

  1. It makes planning for venues and eating places simpler as native worker(s) will be capable of make suggestions.
  2. It permits the workforce to get to know the hometown of their fellow worker(s).
  3. It cuts down on some prices since native staff received’t want resort rooms, flights, or airport transportation.

Once more, having staff already dwelling in your chosen vacation spot is a nice-to-have. When you’ve chosen your metropolis, you might want to discover a venue to host your workforce—a house base for all of the actions of the retreat.

Why We Went with a Lodge

In years previous we’ve had our workforce keep at giant Airbnb homes. However due to the variety of folks on our workforce, we’ve required not less than two Airbnbs, which provides problems like proximity to one another, who stays the place, delegating an appropriate frequent space for folks to hang around throughout non-work instances, ensuring each Airbnbs are near eating places/different sights… the checklist goes on.

We’ve had all these challenges with previous summits, so this yr we determined to make use of a resort. I felt that it made extra sense to maintain everybody in the identical place, give them their very own non-public house, and nonetheless have them inside strolling distance of eating places and sights. Finance-wise, as soon as the price of a number of Airbnbs and extra assembly house are added up, they typically change into similar to a resort.

 Listed below are just a few key issues to remember when deciding on a venue:

  1. Accessibility to the airport and different areas of curiosity.
  2. The venue ought to be good—clear and comfy with public gathering areas (like a foyer, terraces, and/or rooftop deck).
  3. Price. It must be reasonably priced, clearly. We set a purpose for the worth vary we needed to remain inside, then negotiated the worth with the resort, which was capable of hold us in that vary.
  4. A number of choices/makes use of in the identical venue. For us, this was renting a convention room in the identical resort because the workforce was staying at. This allowed us to bundle prices, which allowed us to get a greater price for resort rooms and the convention room, and allowed us to be in a location that restricted publicity to folks exterior our group (and due to this fact COVID).

Talking of COVID security, our alternative of venue was guided largely by the necessity to hold the workforce secure whereas touring and assembly up throughout a world pandemic. Let’s discuss a bit of bit extra about what we did to scale back our danger.

2. Make Positive You’re COVID Protected

I am actually hoping we cannot have to contemplate this in future years, however a variety of planning time went into ensuring that we minimized our COVID danger through the journey. There have been two predominant methods we did this: by requiring workforce members to be vaccinated, and selecting a venue that would cut back folks’s total publicity. 

COVID Security: Vaccination

We required that anybody who attended was vaccinated and will present proof of vaccination.

We additionally made it very clear why we had been requiring proof. It wasn’t as a result of we did not belief folks, however as a result of we needed to construct belief among the many workforce that we had been making an attempt to deal with one another as a lot as potential.

These concerns went into selecting eating places as properly. I referred to as the entire eating places we ended up consuming at forward of time to verify they’d COVID insurance policies in place like masking and distancing, and in some instances required vaccinations of consumers or employees. We additionally ate exterior every time we may. That was a bit of tough with the climate, however total it went easily—and most significantly, nobody received sick.

COVID Security: Location

As I used to be planning the summit, I attempted to reduce the variety of areas our workforce would want to go to. So, we picked a resort that was centrally situated within the metropolis, near Union Station the place everybody could be arriving and departing from. The resort additionally had a convention room on web site that we may use.

This achieved just a few various things. First, it gave folks extra time, particularly within the mornings and the evenings earlier than dinner, as a result of they did not must journey very far to attend conferences—primarily, simply an elevator experience. It additionally saved them from coming into contact with a variety of completely different folks.

The placement we’d initially thought of for our work time through the summit was a very cool coworking house that in regular instances would have been excellent. However I’d been to that location earlier than and knew that it was a maze of places of work with lots of people crammed right into a small space. I knew that if our workforce met there, we might be coming into fixed contact with any of the few hundred individuals who is perhaps figuring out of there on a given day.

I felt it wasn’t a danger that was price taking, so we consolidated all the pieces to the convention room of the Rally Lodge. This ended up being an ideal answer as a result of we had been inside strolling distance of not solely Union Station, but in addition some actually nice eating places and bars.

I used to be actually happy with the way it turned out —and I believe the workforce was too. If we ever do one other summit in Denver, I might positively think about following this similar recreation plan.

Associated Studying: “5 Methods Entrepreneurs Can Conquer Loneliness and Really feel Extra Linked

3. Make the Most of Your Working Time

Our workforce has the good thing about having run a number of in-person retreats prior to now, and we’ve seen what works and doesn’t on the subject of the schedule and format of the enterprise portion of the occasion. This yr we tried a barely completely different format from previous years, and I believe it was a hit.

Our summit ran Monday to Friday, and Tuesday and Wednesday had been dedicated to working time. We sometimes use these working classes to recap the yr and begin planning for the next yr.

This yr, Matt acknowledged that in previous years we hadn’t achieved as a lot enterprise planning as we needed to in these classes. This was largely as a result of a variety of our assembly time sometimes concerned management presenting to the workforce.

To counter that, this yr we tried to “democratize” issues by having every subteam (advertising and marketing, manufacturing, options, and management) run their very own portion of the assembly to determine issues and alternatives of their respective areas. We additionally made these classes interactive, so the entire workforce was concerned in brainstorming concepts and options for every space of the enterprise.

Scheduling was additionally vital. It’s additionally tough to hold the eye of the complete workforce for a protracted time frame, so we broke up the schedule with completely different actions and a few downtime.

So what format do you have to select for the enterprise portion of your subsequent retreat? It’s all about figuring out your workforce and the objectives you’ve got to your time collectively so you’ll be able to benefit from it. One of the best format is just not going to be the identical for each workforce, so my recommendation is to contemplate what’s labored (and never labored) to your workforce earlier than.

4. Eat Some Nice Meals

One other problem for us was discovering eating places that appealed to everybody. Our workforce contains folks with dietary restrictions for gluten and dairy, in addition to a vegan. So it was fairly the method to undergo and discover eating places that provided these choices and additionally had a bigger menu so everybody may discover one thing they appreciated.

Fortunately, with Denver being a various culinary metropolis, it wasn’t too tough to seek out these sorts of eating places. It had been a battle prior to now in different cities, however Denver provided an excellent spectrum of eating choices. As a plus, I didn’t really feel like all two meals or menus had been the identical, which has not all the time been the case.

What’s the important thing to a profitable eating expertise to your entire workforce? The principle factor is simply doing a ton of analysis. Speak to locals and discover out what their favourite eating places are. Additionally, for the folks on the workforce with dietary restrictions, I introduced the restaurant choices to them first and had them give the okay earlier than I introduced the choices to the complete workforce.

5. Have Some Enjoyable

Particularly after the previous virtually two years we’ve all been by means of, it felt tremendous vital to get pleasure from our time collectively. It’s vital to plan in a while that doesn’t require a lot brainpower and permits folks to get to know one another a bit extra. Along with our dinners out, which had been nice for workforce bonding, within the evenings some folks did karaoke on the resort’s rooftop deck, and one night time we visited a “barcade.” We additionally took a complete day to go to Rocky Mountain Nationwide Park and had a good time mountaineering and picnicking.

Considered one of my favourite elements of planning summits is to provide you with presents for folk on the workforce. It’s a variety of enjoyable to determine what folks may get pleasure from and use many times that will additionally remind them of our time collectively as a workforce.

In previous years we have carried out tote baggage crammed with T-shirts, stickers, and pins. We saved with that theme this yr, however we additionally gave some presents that will turn out to be useful through the journey, particularly since we had lots of people coming to Denver (5,280 ft above sea degree) from decrease altitudes. First-time guests to the town (which a number of teammates had been) do not all the time take into consideration the significance of adapting to the altitude, in addition to the excessive ranges of sunshine.

So issues like water bottles, sunscreen, and chapstick had been glorious additions to the present totes we gave everybody. They’re all not solely nice presents, however truly profit the workforce and their well being, particularly within the first few days as they’re adjusting to the local weather and terrain.

An In-Particular person Retreat Is a Lot of Work—However It’s Value It

As you’ll be able to think about, a visit like it is a lot of labor to plan and pull off.

It’s additionally positively a big financial expense. I used to be conservative in my budgeting and gave additional buffer to issues like meals, which paid off since we got here in beneath price range (which had by no means occurred earlier than!). And fortunately the payoff, which is measured principally qualitatively, has all the time been price it.

Additionally, figuring out how a lot to plan is a balancing act. I attempted to plan for as many issues as felt applicable, whereas additionally leaving time for chaos as workforce members’ private preferences (like after-dinner actions and non-team meals). In case you plan each single element, the entire occasion can really feel constrained and rigid, which is rarely enjoyable, so I attempt to solely plan what I have to.

As for unexpected hurdles, there actually weren’t many, which was a bit of surprising. One which involves thoughts is considered one of our workforce members becoming a member of just about. It labored principally properly, with hiccups from a generally poor web connection, and it was exhausting for her to listen to teammates speaking within the convention room. Past that, although, all the pieces ran extremely easily.

I hope this put up was attention-grabbing and useful for those who’re fascinated by planning your subsequent—or first—in-person workforce retreat. I’d go into extra element on tips on how to plan and efficiently pull off a workforce occasion in a future put up, so keep tuned!




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