Stronger Together: 7 Incredible Company Retreat Activities

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Nitpicking coworkers is no way to get things done. But what about when they irritate the snot out of you?

No one wants to hear the dreaded words, "team building." But if you plan the right retreat activities, even coworkers who hate passing each other in the hall can learn to work together. 

Discover the differences and unique skill sets of your team members when you try one of these challenging and adventurous activities today.


1. Volunteer Together

Volunteering makes the top of the list because everyone can get behind doing good for others. Ask everyone to bring ideas to a meeting where you decide together what charity or activity to take part in. Even one meeting will reveal what everyone is passionate about and why they care.

After choosing a charity and planning the day, make sure to talk to the organization you're working with to ensure everyone has a role to play. You want to do the most good you can while involving the whole team. At the end of the day, everyone will feel good about how much they did, for the organization and the coworker who was passionate about the project.

You can even make this a regular event if everyone enjoys it. Work through everyone's suggestions, so that each project gets done. Helping realize everyone's passions means that teams feel connected in a way they didn't before, which rolls over to the office.


2. High Ropes or Adventure Course

An adventure course is usually outdoors, but some are in large gyms or warehouses. Poles, towers, and ropes combine to form an elaborate obstacle course high off the ground, often with zip lines and other daring requirements thrown in.

Each team member straps into safety ropes to avoid real danger. Yet the feel of danger remains, presenting a difficult challenge to overcome.

Everyone learns their coworkers' fears and needs, and they learn to work together for some obstacles. They also get to see what type of encouragement each person needs to succeed and achieve their goals. This retreat activity helps coworkers understand how to help each other.


3. White Water Rafting

If you're lucky enough to live in an area where you have rapids and challenging river courses, take the team white water rafting. Getting out in the sun puts everyone in a new environment where they can get to know each other more casually and vulnerably. They also learn to joke and have fun together.

More important than fun is how the teams of rafters have to work together to get through rapids and challenges along the trip. A guide usually accompanies each group in their raft to help them navigate safely, but each crew member on the boat still has to pull their weight and work with the others. You'll develop teamwork skills and memories that help you bond, fostering harmony at work in the future.


4. Escape Rooms

An escape room is a timed puzzle room where the team gets shut in together, and they must solve puzzles to get out. Most of the time the team isn't actually locked in, and they may leave at any time. While there are rare rooms where you begin in shackles, the general idea isn't to create fear but to work together to solve the imaginary case, which involves opening a door at the end.

It's common for escape rooms to have a time limit of an hour. Occasionally there are shorter ones for fewer people, or there are puzzle masters who allow you a few extra minutes at the end if you're very close to solving it.

From pictograms, logic puzzles, and spacial problems to hidden keys, codes to break, and even creative homemade locks, escape rooms offer different types of problem-solving requirements. This means each person on the team gets to contribute their unique set of skills. When you work together, you can solve all the puzzles.

This activity helps teams appreciate the individual members for all they have to offer. You also learn a lot about your coworkers and how to bring out each one's abilities when you're under a severe time limit like this. Escape rooms are a great retreat activity to get teams working together.


5. Mystery Dinner

You can host your own mystery dinner party. Many companies online sell the entire party as a packaged kit, which you print yourself. They make it easy to plan as long as you know your headcount.

Each team member gets assigned a character. There are objectives that character has, forcing them to interact with other team members, and find out secrets.

Partway through the evening, someone commits a crime. The moderator or narrator who plans the event facilitates this. The rest of the characters then have to solve the crime.

A mystery dinner teaches each person about the personality of the others and their approach to impossible situations. It also gives you a shared bonding experience.


6. Team Building Puzzles

If you're planning retreat activities on a budget, sometimes making your own activities is best. You can read more here about improving productivity and office communication with team building activities.

Several activities need little to no equipment that you can put together at the office, or at a location that's free or cheap to rent. Some are more cerebral, but some are spacial or emotional. Much like the escape room, different types of exercises challenge different people, so teams have to use all their skill sets together to meet their goals.


7. Geocaching Retreat Activities

Using a GPS device, geocaching involves hunting for hidden treasures in a scavenger-hunt style outdoors. These types of searches can be in the city, but more often happen in a rural setting where geocachers have more places to hide objects. It's usually free, and you can sign up anytime.

Make sure to leave no trace and avoid private property or trespassing. You'll also need a map because the real path you traverse won't be as direct as the straight line suggested by the GPS.

This type of activity challenges the skills of each team member and feels vulnerable because you're outside without any real safety point or home base. By sticking together and working as a team, you can find the cache and achieve your goals.


Learning to Work Together

Of all the retreat activities you could plan for your team, the kind that challenges each other to appreciate your differences and seek out others' skill sets work best. It doesn't matter whether you're solving puzzles in an escape room, treasure hunting for a geocache, or doing something adventurous like a high ropes course or white water rafting. 

As long as you're challenging each other and finding out how to work together as a team, the activities will have served their purposes.

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