The Value of Team Retreats for Businesses

Before the pandemic made working from home cool, McCracken was already accustomed to operating as a remote team. And now, in a time when many businesses are reevaluating their work location policies, I can confidently say McCracken will always be a remote-first team. Here’s why:

Remote Work Efficiency

One of the primary reasons we’ve embraced remote work is the many technologies available to us. These tools not only make communication and collaboration efficient, but also allow us to save on costs, conserving fuel, time, and office space needs. 

Remote work also offers our team the flexibility to develop a work-life flow that suits them. From handling daily responsibilities like running the preschool carpool or even checking for calves over a lunch break, remote work empowers our team to make work work for them.

The Value of In-Person Interaction

While we’ve fully embraced using digital tools like Slack, Asana, Zoom, and Google Meet to keep our team and clients connected, we’re quick to acknowledge there is no replacement for in-person meetings.

The McCracken team gathers in person one to two times a year. These gatherings serve as an opportunity to reflect on the past year’s accomplishments, plan for the future, and most importantly, strengthen the connections and relationships among our team members. In-person interactions allow us to hear, see, and learn things that might otherwise be missed through online communication.

Investing in Team Retreats

Earlier this month, we met for a second time in 2023 for a fall retreat. Since almost doubling our team size since our spring retreat, it made sense to get everyone together again.
The investment required to bring together teammates from all over the United States, and pause client work for a few days, is an investment I believe businesses cannot afford to not make. It’s an opportunity to re-energize the team by breaking the routine, working from a fresh location, and participating in activities outside of the office.

Retreats Re-Energize

A break from routine can spark new energy. It can be fun to leave the home office for a few days and work from a new location. In addition to our normal retreat programming, we like to add at least one non-work-related activity. The activity doesn’t need to be extravagant or overly planned; it’s about fostering team unity. Activities like group walks, paddle boarding, pottery making, or spa trips contribute to a shared experience that strengthens team bonds. Our only rule: It must be a full-team activity.

Retreats Build Culture

Trust is built through relationships. At McCracken, retreats are designed to create white space that nurtures natural connections. While we may want to structure an agenda that maximizes our time together, allowing time for informal interactions during late starts or extended lunches can be just as valuable as formal work sessions. The magic often happens when team members gather around a fireplace after dinner or continue to enjoy each other’s company long after the plates have been cleared.

Retreats are a Priority

For us, retreats aren’t an afterthought but a priority. We allocate a specific budget for retreats every year. It’s as important as any other item in the spreadsheet. Our planning committee is already working on plans for our next spring retreat in 2024.

In my experience, retreats offer a vital space for team members to bond, collaborate, and gain new perspectives. Even as a remote-first team, the benefits of in-person gatherings are immeasurable. They re-energize the team, build a strong company culture, and nurture relationships that are essential for business success. Whether your team is remote or office-based, investing in team retreats is a decision that can yield long-lasting benefits for your organization.

Written by:
Stacie McCracken
Founder and CEO of McCracken. Building a better agricultural communications agency.
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