Technology has made it possible for people to work from anywhere, either on their own or as part of a team. Some companies only have remote employees, while other firms use remote teams for specific projects or departments. There are many advantages to working remotely, for both the employer and the employee. The more that technology advances, the more remote work is possible across a variety of sectors; however, even with the many benefits of hiring remote workers, this model is not without its challenges.
Many people don’t realize that managing a remote team is not unlike overseeing in-person employees and that both require strategic oversight. Wade Foster, CEO at Zapier says, “The biggest surprise for me is how similar running in office and remote teams actually are. Yes, there are tons of differences, but they are more the same than they are different. You still manage the same. Sure, the tools are a little different. But the feedback is the same. Goal setting is the same. Org structure is the same.”
One significant similarity between remote and in-office teams is that both groups need to work as a cohesive unit. Without the team building or group training that in-office employees go through, it can be challenging for remote teams to feel the same connection and hold the same shared vision that their on-site counterparts do. One of the most effective ways to engage remote groups and give them the same advantages as on-site employees have is through hosting a team retreat. A retreat can be used in many ways, from as a training tool or to reward for employee’s hard work. Some of the top reasons why retreats, like those offered by Tortuga Retreats, are so beneficial for remote teams include:
Even a working retreat with a heavy daily schedule is a treat for attendees who can enjoy the relaxing setting and environment of being away from home. Whether your retreat is positioned as an employee vacation or not, being at a new destination feels like a gift and shows employees that you appreciate their work. The improved morale that comes from feeling respected and valued continues long after the retreat ends, with the positive effects carrying back into your employee’s remote roles.
Customizing your retreat’s goals.
Retreats are as diverse as the companies that attend them. Employers can choose from working retreats to relaxing vacation-like escapes, with every option in between. Depending on your team’s needs, employers can tailor their retreat goals to meet their requirements. Many companies opt for combining working days along with some relaxation and fun team building exercises for a well-rounded, enjoyable, and productive experience.
Creating a bonding experience.
Getting a remote team together, even just once, can make a significant difference in how they work together and relate to one another. In any working arrangement, interpersonal relationships are an important part of a successful and respectful collaboration. When employees can spend time together or engage in conversations outside of business talk, they begin to form connections. Bonding is important in keeping company morale high, promoting employee loyalty, and fostering collaboration among team members.
Enabling face to face learning.
No matter how advanced technology is, there are still some things that can’t replace sitting down together and working or learning in person. Face to face interaction at a retreat allows remote employees to enjoy the experience of tone of voice, body language, and a sense of community which they typically miss out on. It can be highly effective to have employees work together in this way periodically so they can enrich their relationships with each other and with the projects they are working on.
Improving employee productivity.
Many employees are surprised at what they can accomplish in a retreat setting where they can work face to face, share group discussions, and focus on a task together. Getting together as a group from time to time is a great way to boost productivity on a specific project.
Retreats are one of the secrets of successful remote businesses that many people wouldn’t expect. Bringing your group together for a getaway has so many benefits for everyone involved, making it well worth the effort and planning. Taking the initiative to bring your team together demonstrates how important your employees are to your business and it rewards them with an uplifting and positive team building experience that they will carry into their future work with your company.
AUTHOR BIO: Yvette Badack is the founder and CEO Tortuga Retreats, a provider of productive retreats for global teams. She splits her time between Berlin and Miami and also leads a remote team that’s distributed across three continents. As a serial expat, and international traveler, Yvette has a wealth of experience in the travel & tourism industry and understands the challenges of organizing a workforce that’s rarely together under one roof.