Whether your office is devoting a few hours, a whole day, or even a week to a corporate retreat, the heart of the time spent together is team building and bonding, and there are many ways to make this happen. Below, we’ve shared 63 corporate retreat ideas that will have all your colleagues talking until the next one rolls around.
Theme: Roughing It
Nothing like a few nights under the stars and days floating on the lake to bring the team together in this outdoorsy corporate retreat idea.
Just pitching a tent can involve teamwork and intricate problem-solving. But if your office isn’t all that in to nature, some rustic cabins will do the trick.
Set up the course by winding a rope around several obstacles – trees, over rocks, etc. Then blindfold participants and have them navigate their way to the end of the rope. Staff will need trust, leadership, and communication to get them to the finish line.
This is a great campfire/night time word game. One person starts the game by choosing a pattern every chosen word should follow—items of the same color, items that start with the same letter, etc. He or she starts the game by saying, “I’m going on a camping trip, and I’m bringing ______,” listing an item that follows the chosen pattern. Play continues as everyone tries out different words, trying to determine the pattern. Players who know the pattern can help out by telling others, “No, you can’t bring that.” The game ends when the last person figures out the pattern.
Like, literally. Do some research ahead of time to locate the best hikes in the area. Be sure to offer options in lots of different fitness ranges. What may feel like a casual walk to some could feel like scaling Everest to others.
Anything with the following label: Patagonia, The North Face, REI, Mountain Hardware, Fjällräven. But really, anything that’ll keep you warm and dry will do.
Theme: Queasily Amused (Amusement Park)
This corporate retreat idea has staff getting whipped around on the old wooden coaster at the local amusement park, or meeting the king of theme parks, Mr. Mickey Mouse. And since it’s adults only, there won’t be any fears that someone isn’t tall enough to ride.
Brave enough, now that’s another story. Whether your teammates enjoy flying through the air at high velocities, or would rather stay boots on the ground at the face painting booth, a trip to the amusement park offers a fun little something for everyone.
Be clear about the purpose of the retreat. Some companies prefer their corporate retreats be business-focused, while others see it as a time to relax and have fun. Make sure employees understand the purpose of the retreat so no one is surprised, disappointed, or unprepared.
Disney World has its hidden Mickeys, but you can take the day to the next level by challenging teammates to find and take a photo with a list of items – a churro cart, the ferris wheel, a clown, etc.
The park will have plenty of calorie-filled goodies available. Just be sure to plan your meals and rides accordingly, and pack some anti-nausea meds if anyone is sensitive to motion (especially after eating giant super loaded nachos).
When you’re running from ride to ride and back again, it’s all about the comfy footwear. Oh, and layers. ‘Cause you know you’ll be there well past when the sun goes down.
Theme: Play Tourist
If your corporate retreat budget is a bit more limited, or you just want to stick closer to home, pretend you’re a visitor in your own city. Chances are there are lots of cool touristy spots staff have never visited.
If you plan on making this retreat a working one, spend the morning at the office going over business, grab some lunch, then head out for fun. Weird museums, art galleries, and local recreation areas are all great spots to check out.
Leading up to the retreat, ask staff to submit a list of the places/activities they’ve always wanted to check out but haven’t had the chance to. Work the most requested stops into your itinerary.
Whether it’s the hop-on-hop-off bus, the cheesiest restaurant in town, or taking the selfie every tourist can’t leave without, fully embrace being a tourist by having absolutely no shame.
There are lots of ways to approach meals. Giggle your way through dinner at the most touristy restaurant in town, or book the team in at the most popular place. When you’re out and about during the day, use our find a food truck feature to see who’s nearby.
Share an agenda ahead of the corporate retreat so people know what to expect. You don’t want somebody going buck wild on drinks one night and have to surprise them with the news that sessions start at 8 am the next day.
Visit a novelty tourist shop ahead of your corporate retreat and load up on embarrassing t-shirts for everyone. Tees with poorly screen printed shots of an iconic city symbol and slogans like “My friend went to [city] and all I got was this t-shirt” are all appropriate options.
Theme: 21 And Over
Nothing brings people together like a friendly drink. Or two. Or three. Or four… But after that, who’s really counting? Enjoying a few rosés amid a picturesque setting at a winery, or tasting every craft beer on the menu is a corporate retreat everyone will remember.
At least the first few hours of it. Make it an educational experience by booking a tour or guided tasting ahead of time.
You’ll want an easy way to keep everyone together, especially when the drinks start flowing. Print team shirts on bright fabric to make sure no one gets left behind. Slogans like “If found, please return to [name of your company]” are helpful, too.
Theme: Uptown Funk You Up
Many teams take over the conference rooms at a local hotel to get down to business at their corporate retreat.
But a standard stay doesn’t do much for creativity, especially if the point of the offsite is to brainstorm company goals for the future.
A funky little hotel or B&B will give you the space to be productive, and the inspiration you need to make your ideas amazing.
Plan as much as possible ahead of time. You won’t be able to nail down every little detail, especially as unexpected challenges pop up. But knowing you have a strong framework for the day will help you navigate anything you didn’t foresee.
Many boutique hotels show their personality with themed rooms. The Madonna Inn on the central coast of California offers room like “Caveman” and “Safari.” Assign staff specific rooms, but tell them to keep it a secret. The first day of the retreat, team members must show up in a costume that represents their room. Everyone takes turns guessing until someone reaches the correct answer.
19. Screening Room
Max out your conference room time. At night, turn it into a movie theater. Ask the hotel if they can project, or hook up a large TV. Pop some popcorn and lay out blankets and pillows.
If you’re staying for several nights, plan little events each evening that require an easy, but themed outfit. Fancy night for dinner at the hotel, jeans and plaid for happy hour at the local BBQ spot, etc.
Theme: Home Away From Home
Take the corporate out of corporate retreat by booking the team into a cozy house via Airbnb or VRBO. Making everyone feel at home will foster closer relationships, a safe atmosphere to share ideas, and is the perfect solution to bring dispersed and remote teams together (and not break the budget).
Look for properties with big backyards for lawn games, built-in basketball courts, hot tubs or pools, etc. to give your colleagues something to do during down time.
Everyone writes down a short story about themselves on paper, folds it, and puts it into a basket. Each person takes turns picking out a story, and reading it out loud while everyone guesses whose story it really is.
Make sure everyone can participate in the planned activities. Nothing should be too physically demanding; if members of your team don’t drink, don’t plan the whole day around a keg; etc.
This is another fun ice breaker you can play for the duration of your corporate retreat. Hand out the same number of bead necklaces to each staff member. Ahead of time, or as a group, decide on a word or several words that are forbidden to be spoken. If someone says the word and someone else hears it, the person who heard it gets to collect a necklace from them. Who ever has the most at the end of the corporate retreat wins.
No one’s going to want to cook every night (see below for delicious ideas), but an organized dinner one evening not only encourages teamwork, but it should also produce some yummy results. Assign everyone a group, and give them a dish to make, or organize a dessert challenge á la The Great British/American Baking Show. Have one person (the boss, perhaps) sit out from the kitchen extravaganza and then test and score each creation.
If the location allows it, book a few different food trucks for the nights you’ll be sleeping over at your home away from home and set up an alfresco dining room on the sidewalk/driveway. This’ll keep everyone from feeling too confined to the house and fresh air = fresh ideas.
Let staff know there’s no need to dress to impress for this corporate retreat. Lounge wear and athleisure, or anything else you’d wear around your house on a lazy Sunday is perfectly acceptable.
Theme: Let Us Be One
Let’s leave the lame trust falls behind and embrace a new era of team building activities for your next corporate retreat. You certainly don’t have to schlep everyone to a ropes course either.
Companies like TeamBonding will do all the work for you, or there are tons of resources online to help you curate the perfect day for your office offsite. And if your budget is limited, you can hold the event at your office and save your money for the food and drinks.
Everyone may have worked together for awhile, but throwing your colleagues into a different and unfamiliar situation might cause some of them to be shy. A few ice breakers will help get everyone warmed up so you can easily transition into the real activities. One of our faves is The M&M Game: Hand out a fun size bag of M&Ms to each person. Everyone goes around the room and shakes out one candy, then answers a question according to the color of the candy. Come up with your own questions ahead of time, but something easy like Green = show you last binge watched / Yellow = something you can’t live without.
We love this roundup (and downloadable ebook) from the When I Work Blog that lists low-prep games and exercises to try out at your office offsite. A few of our favorites include Mad Lib Mission Statement and The Perfect Square.
There’s something about a uniform that encourages unity, especially at a team building-themed corporate retreat. Order special screen printed shirts with your company’s logo or motto on them, or if the budget doesn’t allow for that, consider colored bandanas.
Theme: Let Me Introduce
This corporate retreat idea is all about inspiration, education, and application.
Put on a mini conference just for your office featuring speakers, members from your own community, staff members, and any other sources that might be relevant. Think of it as a TED conference curated just for your office.
This corporate retreat idea is another great one if your budget is on the smaller side.
This is a great breakout activity in between speakers. If you have a large staff, organize everyone into groups no larger than six people per. Each group is tasked with creating a mock newspaper with headlines describing what they think the company could achieve in the future.
A few weeks ahead of the corporate retreat, invite staff to submit a talk or lesson they’d like to give, then have everyone vote on what they’d like to have presented. The winner gets to share on the day of the office offsite, and the rest of the talks and lessons can be saved for lunch ‘n learns.
If time and location allow, get everyone out of the office for an hour-long break at a nearby restaurant. Spending an entire day in the office could be taxing, and a change of scenery will help the energy and attention going into the afternoon. For an afternoon pick-me-up, book a dessert truck for a little sugar burst. Waffles, beignets, and cookies, oh my!
A special day calls for a special outfit. Encourage staff to show up in their nicest business casual duds. Especially if your office is used to t-shirts and jeans, a few ties and nicely ironed slacks will help set the stage for the day.
The car games are just the beginning of the fun for this corporate retreat idea. A little 21 Questions anyone? Organize a carpool, and caravan to a new city or town.
Exploring an unfamiliar spot together will surely require some of the foundations of team building – problem-solving, communication, and negotiation.
Don’t assume you need to try to stretch the budget in the big city either. Small towns can have plenty to offer if you do your research ahead of time.
A scavenger hunt is like a crash course tour of a new city. The Go Game claims to combine the “Amazing Race,” “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” and Cranium in one app-based game.
Hashtag it! What you have planned is going to be such a riot, your colleagues will be snapping photos and taking videos right and left. Give them an easy way to share their memories on social.
Depending on how many people are in your office, invite everyone to choose one activity for the group to participate in together.
Over the course of the trip, have staff take photos of moments, places, people, and things. At the end of the trip, everyone chooses their favorite and shares it to a group album. The office then votes on which photo best represents the adventure.
This is another opportunity to create personalized shirts for the team. “We’re here all the way from [city name]” is a perfect conversation starter. Especially if you’re visiting from the next town over.
Theme: Yeehaw, Pardner!
Bunking up with new friends, waking up to fresh air drifting through open windows, and packing every day with as many sports, crafts, and competitions as possible.
Summer camp was a magical time, and as adults, the only way to make it better is to add drinks (and limit activities to those guaranteed not to tweak your back). Book your corporate retreat at a ready-made camp like Camp No Counselors or Club Getaway, or reserve a few cabins and DIY.
Everyone pairs up. Each couple comes up with their own distinct hog call, then spreads out and blindfolds themselves. The pairs make their hog calls to try to locate their partner. First to do so wins.
Who knew that Steve from accounting was a master beatboxer? Set up a talent show and invite staff to wow and shock their colleagues.
Skip the scoops of unidentifiable slop and roll in the chuck wagon. BBQ beef, chicken, and pork and hearty sides like baked taters, mac ‘n cheese, beans, biscuits, and coleslaw will keep staff full and healthy and help to soak up all the inevitable booze. Don’t feel like rollin’ up your plaid sleeves? Check out our finger lickin’ good chuck wagons.
Click here to bring a food truck to your company’s corporate retreat.
Plaid flannel and denim in any and all combinations. Extra points to the person who can find a flannel swimsuit.