Here’s an example of how Surf Office implemented this approach to large group team-building. Surf Office hosted an all-hands meeting for a large company at our Lisbon location. The bigger group wanted to split out into smaller teams.
Each team had an idea of what activity would bring them the most value during the week. The issue? The activities were only available on different days and at different times of the day.
That meant Surf Office was unable to schedule simultaneous events for the smaller teams to participate in. Some people would be left idle while waiting for others to return from their adventure. This had a negative impact on the overall work schedule.
Alternately, some companies – especially those with fully-remote teams – prefer to keep the big group together. The downside in this instance is that there are fewer options for large group activities. Large groups move more slowly and take longer to transport places. There’s only usually enough time in a retreat schedule for one chill activity.
But, there are some good ways that Surf Office has found to accommodate everyone’s interests. For example, an afternoon at the beach provides the opportunity for each team member to do what suits them. Some people might go for a surf lesson, others might relax at the beach bar. This loosely structured event makes it easy for the team to get to know each other without the forced bonding of many typical team-building activities.
Activities for Large Groups
Surf Office has a great playbook for bringing together a large group during your offsite retreat.
One of our favorites is called “treasure hunt.” In this activity, teams compete to finish a treasure hunt through a city’s historic streets. Smaller groups head out to look for top tourist sites, hidden gems, and architectural monuments. It’s a great way to get to know the city and your colleagues.
A crowd-favorite bonding activity: karaoke. We’ve booked a karaoke bar in the center of Lisbon for one team looking for a fun night on the town. Karaoke might not seem like your typical corporate retreat activity, and that’s the point.
As Monica Zeng from Aragon One pointed out in our podcast just last week, going off script is what brings people together. Her retreats, which often include singing and dancing, are designed to take people out of their comfort zone and break down workplace stereotypes in a fun way.
Last but certainly not least, Surf Office has found that hackathons are a great way to bring together big groups. A traditional hackathon is an event where a group comes together for creative problem-solving.
The hackathon doesn’t have to be connected to your main product or service. Instead, you can be focused on improving internal communication (or any hot topic that matters to the company).
They can even be completely unrelated to your business; it’s a vehicle for thinking creatively and team bonding. The aim is to get more people working together in small groups of five people from different job functions.
At the end of the hackathon period, teams present their ideas on “demo day.”
Best Practices for Big Groups
Overall, we recommend a healthy mix of big group activities that allow smaller teams to get to know each other better. At a minimum, we’ve seen teams really enjoy an organized dinner at the end of the day where the large group comes together. Try to plan at least a few instances where your entire large group is in the same place.
If you choose to take the first approach and divide your large group up from the outset, organized your whole-team activity for the last day of the retreat. For example, on a three-day retreat, do a big activity on the second day, then have dinner together, and leave the next day to go home.
Retreats for larger groups work best when they’re spread out over three to five days. This time period allows for the perfect balance of work and rest.
Find a place that’s convenient for the entire remote group using our handy Location Finder. This advisor can recommend a location where people from the distributed team should meet.