TOP-20 Virtual Retreat Ideas & Games💡 To Reset Your Remote Team [2023]

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TOP-20 Virtual Retreat Ideas & Games💡 To Reset Your Remote Team [2023]

When was the last time your team held a good old team-building event? If you’re like most teams, it’s probably been a while. When the pandemic hit, we kept rescheduling out-of-office activities for the team while maintaining over-optimistic expectations of when the lockdown would be over.
And now it's 2023 — half of the team relocated across the country (or even across the world!), others are not really in a hurry to return to the office at all. Considering all the changes, how do we keep the team spirit alive?
The truth is that staff retreat ideas during COVID-19 have become limited. However, at the same time, the lockdown has brought a new way of holding corporate meetings that remains popular today. Virtual retreats or virtual parties are a source of ensuring team spirit even for remote workers.

Table of Contents

virtual retreats in Zoom

What are virtual retreats?

These are remote retreat ideas organized in dedicated virtual party rooms. The theme, content, and duration may vary. The unbeatable benefits of virtual entertainment are cost-effectiveness, easy access, and an interactive approach.

As an organizer, you have no need to look for venues and tickets, making them suit your budget. Instead of pricey and exhausting hassles, you just throw a party of any size online, providing every member with guaranteed access. No matter how far your colleagues are, they can join you in clicks and spend time all together.

virtual retreats

One of the most important things to consider is the choice of online party space since Zoom, Google Meets, and similar business calls do not really count as virtual retreats (even if you make them super fun). With an appropriate online platform, the company can implement different virtual retreat themes and get the most out of interactive events.

The metaverse party is a full-fledged immersion into an online way of entertainment.

How to prepare a memorable virtual retreat for your remote team

Despite having experience providing online team-building activities, virtual happy hours, and holiday parties, you may have no clue about how to organize an online retreat. The idea behind hosting a virtual corporate retreat is to create an enduring experience that begins before the event, gains momentum during the retreat, and sustains after it.

In-person or physical retreats often continue for several days. However, with virtual retreats it is not always possible. The thing is that no one actually wants to sit glued to their computer screen for days. But you can still make an online event an unforgettable and pleasant experience for all involved. This is how:

1. Don’t try to replicate in-person experience

Virtual retreats offer a completely different value proposition over in-person corporate retreats. So don’t try to create an event that mimics an in-person meeting. It is a completely different experience.

Virtual retreats allow employees to relax, recharge and have fun, all while being closer to their families and homes.

2. Avoid screen sharing

And PowerPoint presentations. They turn a dynamic session into forced content consumption and remind them about workdays.

You can send the necessary content to your team members in advance so that they would be prepared or print it out for them. With physical materials on hand, your team members are much more likely to engage with their colleagues and the discussion.

3. Plan online team-building activities

Integrating remote team-building activities into the theme of your day or the entire virtual retreat will add to relaxation and wellness of the team-building day. Such activities help to promote better communication practices, design experiences around online improvisations, storytelling, back-to-back drawing, etc.

Compose whole activities into a well-thought plan. The all amateur mistake is to put up as many virtual staff retreat ideas as they could. Instead of overwhelming your team with an endless game, try to give enough space for everyone to play, relax, and just have fun.

What should be taken into account before running a virtual retreat

virtual retreats

There are a few important things to decide before starting a virtual retreat:

  • Define the mission and set expectations
    Try to write down the goal and intended outcomes of the all-team party in a sentence. Share this idea with your team. For instance, the goal could be to foster relationship-building and re-energize the team. If you’re not sure about your goals, think about the problems you want to resolve. Maybe your team has an internal long-maturing conflict, and you want to help them with virtual team offsite ideas. Decreased productivity is another sign that your members need a relax day.
  • Decide on the structure and timelines
    How many days will the event run for? What will be the timing for meetings? Keep in mind that meetings that are too long can be exhausting, which goes against the idea of a retreat.
  • Create an event planning team or plan it by yourself
    In both cases you better ask the people participating in the online event. Schedule a brainstorming session to understand what your team members want out of the leisure experience and how you can best align their needs with your organization’s needs.
  • Choose a platform when planning a virtual retreat
    Forget about Zoom and Google Meets. These tools are good for work but can’t be associated with any form of relaxation. Although you can get a bunch of Zoom retreat ideas, the platform won’t provide you with enough tools to set up an all-members party. For example, you limit your colleagues’ options to visit the breakout room when they want. Plus, Zoom, as well as other similar software, is strongly associated with work routine, but not a fun party. Choose a platform that provides an immersive experience, making it possible for your team to get really pleasant vibes.

How to set up a virtual retreat with a proper event platform

virtual retreats

A proper event platform should provide you with all the tools you need for your virtual retreats. These may include ticketing and registration, limitless event rooms, an expo hall, chat, networking and more.

In a word, administrative processes that take your time and bring no pleasure to cease to be your responsibility. Even as an organizer, you’ll be able to enjoy the remote work retreat with the whole team without being in a rush.

Zapier chose Party.Space to arrange their annual retreat event. The company wanted team members to get to know each other better, have fun, and just talk about whatever was on their minds without having to think about work issues.

The purpose of this event was clear. To keep employees from burnout, the company needed a full circle of relaxation and improved the overall people’s mood.

The path to a successful online retreat includes three clear steps:

  • The first step in creating the “Zap to the future” metaverse event was to choose the right time for hosting the party. Teams are located all over the world, so whenever it is daytime for some teams it is nighttime for others. Therefore, we planned two days’ worth of activities at different times. This way, the event’s happenings would be convenient and engage the maximum number of people from the Zapier team to take part in remote activities, no matter their location.
  • The second step was choosing the right set of activities for a two-day retreat. That was a real challenge. Based on our experience, we loaded the party with as many trivia games as we could think of to kick off the event and help break the ice among guests. And that worked well.
  • The third step was a free time for teams to network. While all the teams were working remotely, they needed some free time for networking. There is a stereotype that networking at online parties is difficult. It is not convenient for many to unmute the microphone and start talking. In fact, you may encounter this problem if you choose Zoom as your online venue. However, using the right tools, online parties can set up an impromptu dance floor. With Party.Space, users could do more than one thing at a time. For example, guests enjoyed a DJ performance and discussed it with other guests at the same time.

Learn more about planning and executing a Zapier virtual retreat and how the team responded to the experience.

Top 20 virtual retreat activities to choose from

Due to the range of available activities on virtual event platforms (such as Party.Space), the choice is almost limitless these days. Making a choice depends on the planned duration of virtual events. If you plan a one-day event (4-5 hours in total), we recommend choosing up to 10 activities, some of them running in parallel to each other. If you want more activities, then it is better to arrange an event for a few days.

1. Award ceremony

Let’s start with the most important part of virtual retreats — appreciating a team’s hard work and dedication. Feedback is especially important for the remote team. The award ceremony is a way to show employees that each of them is noticeable and essential to the team.

There should be several awards in multiple categories, even if your team is not that big. Handing out an award to only one person wouldn’t be encouraging for the rest, right?

2. Prize raffle

Other people should not leave the party space empty-handed either. Prepare small but useful gifts (Starbucks cards, Uber promo codes, etc.) and distribute them randomly. A small lottery works great as an icebreaker. Plus, everyone loves to receive presents.

3. Q&A session with CEO

If serious presentations are not on the agenda, organize a quick (15 minutes tops) session with the CEO. Remote teams are expanding all the time these days and newcomers hardly know anyone outside their immediate team. A Q&A session is an excellent chance to remind everyone “we are still on the same team.”

4. Interview with an invited designer

Every cool party has VIP guests, right? Why not invite a guest from a company that is of special importance to your team?

Stuck in our daily routine of endless tasks, we often forget that we actually work for other real people. Take this chance to show some human appreciation.

5. Online disco hall with a shared playlist

virtual retreats

The event might be virtual, but the dance mood is real! Every organization has a bunch of people who are killing it on the dance floor. Make sure they have a dedicated room on your online party platform. The main thing for a good dance mood is music. Think of a playlist that will rock your team.

6. Movie screening with a chat discussion

Another room can be for cinema enthusiasts! Just make sure the movie choice is not overcomplicated. Art house is not for everyone. A trending-now TV series or a good old season of the Office (or Friends) might be a better option. It may not be superfluous to offer several shows to choose from. Perhaps one of your colleagues is a fan of horror films, while others are more into comedy.

7. A photo contest

Announce the topic(s) a few days in advance to give people enough time to prepare. And of course, the winner would need a photo-related prize. The most viral competition that has gained popularity during the quarantine is Show Your Home Office.

Naturally, quarantine has become a test for companies, but people have adapted to the new conditions and created their own mini home offices. Maybe, virtual retreats are a good time to show the member’s working places.

8. Spontaneous drawing competition

Take a famous enough picture (how about “American Gothic”?) and ask volunteers to redraw it in 10 minutes, using Paint or Canva only (obviously, graphic designers are not competing here, they are on the panel of judges).

9. Emoji (GIF) battle

For this game, the activities are endless. “Guess the book by three emojis”, “Explain a song in two GIFs only”, you get the idea.

10. Online workshops

When working from home for an extended period of time, people start to take their hobbies more seriously. Many have picked up long-forgotten hobbies and developed interests in other things. And this interest is still alive!

For virtual team retreats, there are several options to choose from. For example, home gardening basics and cocktail mixology. Invite a professional who can talk interestingly about the topic. However, for some virtual offsite ideas, your colleagues may need additional ingredients, which should be sent in advance.

11. Random coffee and sharing sessions

When choosing a virtual party software for your online event, make sure it has the option of online private booths — small rooms where people can simply chat (Starbucks or similar gift cards can be emailed before the event).

12. Game streaming

People usually play online games with either their friends or complete strangers from the internet. Finding a bunch of colleagues who are also fans of “your game” is always a nice surprise!

13. Online-but-not-computer games

“Truth or dare” and “Never Have I Ever” are some of the best ways to get to know your colleagues from a very different perspective. Just remember, what was told in the virtual truth or dare room, stays in the online room.

14. Wellness lecture

Not everyone is in the mood for parties these days. An online lecture on professional burnout prevention (or digital hygiene in social networks) might interest those not ready to party hard.

15. Confessions of failure private room

Are you familiar with the concept of F*ckup Night events? Maybe it’s time we all try that — admit we make mistakes far more often than we hope. Praising success stories is awesome, of course, but learning from failures is much more educational.

16. Remote book club

virtual retreats

As simple as it sounds: people get together to discuss what they are reading. For some, this is a good starting place for a long-term personal friendship!

17. Travelers’ club

Hiking tips, hotel recommendations, gastronomic reviews, secret promo codes to local spas — who says that colleagues can’t be part of your comfortable work-life balance? Arrange a travel club as one of the offsite ideas virtual and get insights about traveling you might use.

18. Cooking together

On many occasions, colleagues with kids skip team-building activities due to a lack of time or because they couldn’t get a babysitter. How about cooking a meal together? It’s always fun for kids and colleagues can exchange useful tips for cooking for kids! Produce baskets can be delivered to any of the participants’ doors on the day of the event.

19. Wordle, anyone?

And don’t even try to persuade us you are not playing. Everyone does.

20. Follow-up survey

While this isn’t part of the virtual retreat itself, it shouldn’t be overlooked. Do not forget to collect feedback on the virtual retreat activities a few days after (a week max.). When it comes to entertainment, people’s preferences are changing all the time. Make sure you know your team well enough.

On a final note, a purely technical recommendation and hands-on advice on organizing virtual events for large groups:

  • When choosing a virtual party website, make sure you have the chance to try a demo (a pilot party) at least several days before the event itself.
  • Arranging all the technicalities in advance would help prevent any awkward pauses and delays in your virtual party timeline.
  • Finding the right time for a large group is difficult, so consider a two-three day online retreat. People will be able to join when they have the chance.
  • Consider different types of activities. In your group, there can be both people who like noisy parties and those who love calm conversations.
  • Run several online retreat ideas simultaneously so that everyone has a choice of what to do.

Summing up, for enjoyable virtual retreats, you need the right platform. With the built-in toolbox, you can create as many rooms as you need. Each room includes only one activity for the team. However, there is no limit to the number of rooms you can run at the same time. That means you can throw as many activities as you want: one room for dancing, another for the cinema marathon and so on.

Luckily, there are professional solutions that will help you organize an online party without additional hassle. One of these services is Party.Space. Instead of the usual Zoom retreat, you can have a truly immersive metaverse party. Each of your employees can virtually attend a concert or join a booking club without leaving their homes.

FAQ: Virtual Retreats

What is a virtual team retreat?

A remote company retreat is a way for the team to put work aside and relax. The advantage of remote team building is that all participants can join right from home. So instead of looking for a convenient venue and costly tickets, organizers need just provide employees with access to an online platform.
Mistakenly, many suppose that virtual retreats are the same as online Zoom meetings. However, in addition to seamless communication, an online party includes various virtual team retreat ideas, games and performances to help the team have fun.

How do I host a virtual retreat?

To hold your retreat online smoothly, you need a comprehensive online platform. It cuts hassles with registration, ticketing, and placing employees. While choosing the right platform, you may come across simple videotelephony software programs. They will ease your communication through the remote team retreat, but it can’t completely replace a metaverse party solution.
The next step is to arrange different types of virtual staff retreat ideas. The main reason for team retreat is to build a bond between all members, so the team retreat activities need to endorse communication and engagement. Quizzes, battles and other virtual retreat games give you a way to shake your employees a bit. Also, it would help if you considered including workshops or guest lectures to share valuable knowledge.
Equally important is the communication at the meeting. By listening to the opinions of employees, you can grasp valuable insights. Therefore, include a Q&A session with the top management to get your employees a word.

Why do you need a virtual retreat for your team?

Although remote work gave people more freedom, it did not save them from burnout. Moreover, the problem of disrupted work-life balance negatively affects employees’ productivity. Virtual retreats will free your colleagues from the work routine and help them refresh.
Also, a virtual company retreat will help all employees to come together and find common interests. Due to the lockdown, many new employees have never met their co-workers in person and have not been able to experience the company’s culture. A well-thought-out online meeting can correct this and make it easier for newcomers to integrate into the team.

How do you make virtual team retreats unforgettable?

To create a successful party, you must first decide what success is. Set the goals you want to achieve using the party. After the party, you can take a poll or use other KPIs to help you determine the results of your party.
Not expensive performances, but vivid emotions can make your party unforgettable. In order to give such feelings, you must understand what your team members want to see. So research your team’s interests well and prepare virtual team retreat ideas before making a party.
The main rule is to make the party comfortable for everyone. Inform your colleagues about the date and time of the meeting in advance. Enter details such as dress code, etc. The more information your colleagues have, the easier the party will be.

Published Oct 2, 2022

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