2. Cook something together
Monica Zeng from Aragon One brought her remote team on a Surf Office retreat for some quality time and team bonding.
One of her most popular activities was a dumpling-making class. Any type of cooking class is a fun activity for remote groups – no chef expertise necessary.
The goal is to split the bigger group into smaller segments. Then, the format provides the chance for intimate conversations while chopping, mixing, stirring, and baking. It’s a type of team building “problem-solving” activity that’s both lighthearted and rewarding. Plus, snacks!
3. Organize the hackathon not related to work
Hackathons are design sprint-like events. Typically, computer programmers and software developers plan a hackathon to solve a problem. Hackathons can be organized to solve non-engineering related issues.
The most fun hackathon events have nothing to do with the company whatsoever. Organize a hackathon-style event to break into smaller teams and encourage creative thinking. The goal is to improve team cooperation while thinking outside the box.
Surf Office hosted a hackathon at a retreat we organized in Ericeira for the remote company Invision. The team chose to focus on solving for remote work communications issues.
Over the course of their one-day hackathon, the team built new product features, as well as a few internal communication tools.
4. Invite a guest speaker or host a meetup
Peakon, a people analytics software company that’s fully remote, hosted a retreat with Surf Office in Barcelona. They invited the former director of marketing from FC Barcelona to talk about marketing ideas in soccer. The lessons he shared were surprisingly applicable for SaaS businesses, too.
A guest speaker can spark new ideas and curiosity for your team members. Bring in someone who can help motivate your remote workforce or bring a new perspective that sparks discussion. Or, organize lightning talks by members of your team.
Your team members are interested in different topics, so why not let them speak to their passion?
Lightning talks don’t have to be work-related. Wouldn’t you be interested to hear about the experience of your coworker hiking in Nepal? Be creative.
If you’re seeking to learn about the culture of your retreat location, organize a local meetup. For Automattic, Surf Office organized a meetup in Lisbon.
The team hosted a meetup to showcase how their employees work within a distributed company.
A local meetup is a fantastic opportunity to attract great talent. It’s an effective way to represent your company to applicants with minimal investment.
Next steps for remote team-building
Surf Office has a ton of resources to help you plan your remote team-building retreat.
Our experience has also given us some key recommendations we can share. Start by planning your schedule for the biggest team-building activity to take place one day before departure.
For example, if you’re planning a three-day retreat, host the activity on the second day. Then, plan a dinner together as a group on the third day (and leave for home the following morning).
This gives your team plenty of time to get to know each other and debrief after the team activity.
We can help you organize a company retreat, whether its an annual retreat, milestone celebration, hackathon, innovation week, or leadership retreat.