Team Bonding, Togetherness and Yurts: lessons from the BizDojo Team Retreat

The BizDojo crew is a tight-knit team. You have to be, when you're working together on crazy projects, achieving lofty goals or simply wrangling the day-to-day randomness of coworking and more. To keep our growing team together, and to be strategic about the way we do things, BizDojo is big on team retreats.

When you think about it, it is hard to really be strategic in the hustle and bustle of business as usual. Weekly tactical meetings are more often than not the home of operational matters rather than sharing wins or talking next steps in ongoing projects. So a logical step for achieving the sort of focus needed is to remove the team entirely from that hustle and bustle. For us, this meant gathering the teams from Auckland, Wellington and beyond and plonking them in a bush retreat at Bethells Beach to workshop, share, bond and grow!

If this sounds like an interesting concept to you, we recommend you check out our previous blog post on the topic, and our six tips below for team retreat success. Have your own tips? Share them in the comments!

Recap Before Setting New Goals. 
Before launching into the future, take a moment to step into the past. Not only will summarising past activity allow you to celebrate wins or move through areas of the business that have been tricky, it will also give a real grounding for those future plans which can often seem lofty in comparison to the day to day. For high growth businesses this step can be especially important, as new team members can get an insight into the ‘why’ of previous decisions, and learn more of that origin story that makes them really understand the breadth and depth of your business.

Concretely Set Goals and Actions
So you have the origin story down, and everyone has cried and cheered over the retrospective tale - now it’s time to set some new goals. These may be specific, like an action cry to reach a certain revenue target or to embrace a particular rate of shipping. Or the goal may be simpler, something around engagement of team members, or actions from workshops that can be carried forward into the next week of business. The point here is to create a focus: not only will this give your team a real, tangible reason for being there, it will help you hone your messaging too and keep the team retreat from delving into a random array of conversations that only benefit your business little.

Get Everyone Involved
When we started doing team retreats in earnest a few years ago, they were very top down, primarily comprised of management-led sessions on the what, why, when and how. Over time we have moved away from this format, shifting more toward staff-led sessions and partner learning. This was a great opportunity for team members from different locations to spend time working together on a project in a good ol’ team bonding scenario, whilst also making sure that learnings from multiple locations were covered off in the resulting workshop sessions - clever! Session styles ranged from team to team, meaning there was a little something for everyone.

Down-time Is Just As Important…
Workshops and planning are all well and good, but so is getting that culture right. So amongst the workshops definitely plan for downtime. This may be for a vino or five, a group fitness session in the morning, a little adventure, or my particular favourite - eating large amounts of cheese and chatting.

One of my favourite things around BizDojo retreats is that every single one has built on the one previous. The first one was great, the second was better, and so on and so forth. Post-retreat management elicit feedback from staff where we can highlight issues, share wins and suggest new ways of doing things.

Have a Yurt
It does not have to be a yurt per se - although our yurt was pretty great. But choosing a location which is blessed either with great amenities (pool / spa / golf / walking tracks), beauty, or odd features (like a yurt), gives a feeling of escape and surprise that can help erode some of those feelings about a retreat being just-another-work-thing. A great location, with nice spaces for relaxing, talking, workshopping or just chilling out will also go a long way to making sure your team is happy and comfortable. This is especially good to be mindful of if your team is giving up their weekend to be on your retreat.

Anya wrangles Brand & Marketing for BizDojo, in the hopes of one day having a yurt of her very own. You can follow her on twitter here.