Sometimes, it’s easy to get so wrapped up in your work that you lose sight of where you are, and you can’t see the forest for the trees.
But what if, when you finally looked up from your screen, there really was a forest all around you? Not an office full of demands and distractions. Not a home-office set-up with the same four walls you see day in day out. Instead, you could get up from your desk and step out into a National Trust woodland.
That's not as unrealistic as it sounds. Not when you can take a well-earned corporate retreat on the Norfolk Broads.
The idea of a corporate retreat might make you think of an extravagant gathering jam-packed with “fun” team-building challenges or an exotic beach booze-up with colleagues you barely know. But that’s not how it has to be.
In reality, a retreat is simply an opportunity to take a break from your usual workspace or routine—as a team or even as an individual. A company retreat just needs to :
Beyond that, the bells and whistles you choose to include are up to you. But if you tick those three simple boxes, you can give your employees a retreat experience that really delivers.
Here are 6 ways that a working retreat can benefit your people and your business.
We’ve gotten used to working by Slack, Zoom and Teams, where we can discuss, plan, and collaborate without having to be in the same room. This asynchronous work has plenty of benefits for remote teams—from the flexibility to work when and where we’re at our best to improving our work-life balance.
But there are downsides. We aren’t working together as much. We spend 25% less time on collaborative activities, which makes knowledge sharing harder. And we’re losing out on face-to-face interaction with our colleagues.
Business retreats are a great way to offset some of that lost connection—and to do it in a more socially enjoyable way. Sometimes, there’s just no substitute for (real world) face-time.
A few days or a week in a spacious offsite location like The Warren House in Suffolk is great for getting your people together, to work with each other in person and to bond and build stronger relationships.
A corporate retreat fosters team cohesion and dynamics. In-person connections have been shown to improve successful collaboration by 23%, with positive knock-on effects for productivity. A retreat can also be great for building trusting relationships, and cultivating a strong company culture.
All of us deal with some level of workplace stress from time to time, but when it starts to impact on our mental and physical health, it becomes a problem. And it impacts our ability to do our best work.
More than 6 in 10 UK employees have felt burnt out recently, and with burnout as the number one reason people quit their jobs, companies need to take it seriously.
Wellbeing is not just about health: it covers everything from our working environment, company culture and working relationships. Positive employee interactions reduce stress and risk of depression, and cultivate more positive feelings about work.
Meanwhile, two hours a week in natural surroundings, such as woodlands and beaches, can work wonders for health and wellbeing—especially for those of us who usually work in urban areas. Which is why a company retreat is so powerful for employee wellbeing.
Like the old axiom says, “a change is as good as a rest”. Getting away for a few days is great for encouraging employees to relax, unwind, and reduce stress—even when still working.
And if you’re surrounded by nature, like at The Blackwood in Norfolk, all the better.
A working break is a great way to reduce stress and increase employee engagement and productivity. It also shows you value your team members and their wellbeing, which contributes to a positive and enjoyable employee experience. In the big picture, that can lead to less absenteeism and lower turnover.
A corporate retreat can be a great motivator—and not just as a perk or reward to work towards. When we receive recognition and praise for our achievements or competencies, it’s a boost for intrinsic motivation—that drive that comes from a sense of pride or job satisfaction. So it makes us want to keep performing well.
A focused working retreat can also add some real impetus if your team needs to work on an important project. Getting off site with a fixed objective and a set time to achieve it adds a sense of focus, while new and more casual surroundings help alleviate the pressure.
Whatever the purpose—to achieve a clear goal or reset and recharge between projects—a short getaway can have major benefits for employee engagement. It can boost employee morale and help employees return to routine with a sense of achievement and a renewed sense of purpose.
Motivated and focused employees are more committed and likely to remain on board, reducing turnover and the costs associated with recruitment and onboarding. Not only that, but offering team retreats as part of your benefit package can enhance your reputation as an employer of choice, making you more attractive to potential talent.
A recent study in Nature found that virtual workplace communication makes it harder to come up with creative ideas. Working together in-person, however, gives employees more effective communication, a much broader perspective and more space to branch out. This can be really useful if they need to get creative on a new project.
Giving your team members a change of working environment, as well as access to the natural world, is wonderful for stimulating innovative thinking and fostering creativity, leading to fresh ideas and solutions.
The informal setting of a corporate retreat can encourage more relaxed interactions and openness among colleagues, so that they can let the ideas flow. Not only that, but just 4 days in natural surroundings has been shown to boost creative thinking by 50%. (That’s why Ashore Discover team retreats give you 7 days…)
Providing a focused, yet casual environment for employees to discover new ideas. This can be useful if you need to come up with new products or promotional approaches, or explore fresh insights for strategic planning.
Make no mistake: showing your appreciation for your employees is as important for your business as it is for them.
A recent report found that 5.5 million UK workers feel underappreciated at work, with almost 80% of those planning to quit as a result. People want to feel seen and valued in the workplace, and to know that their hard work is worthwhile and contributes to the business’ success.
There are plenty of ways to recognise your employees’ great work—from shout-outs and time off to bonuses and gifts. Offering a working retreat in a relaxing location is another great way to combine recognition and rewards with enhancing your employees’ work.
Offering your people a short retreat shows them that you value them and their work. It displays trust and respect, and helps to contribute to an even more positive and enjoyable employee experience.
When your employees feel valued and appreciated, they perform better, and they want to keep working with you. Recognition from leaders is the number one motivator of great work. It makes employees 4 times as likely to feel a sense of belonging with the company.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy (and Jill a dull girl).
It also makes Jack and Jill think about leaving for greener pastures.
We want to do what we enjoy and we’re more likely to do it well when we do, so it’s worth injecting some levity into our jobs (even—or especially—when they’re hard). Making work fun benefits our productivity, creativity, communication and wellbeing.
A working retreat is not all about work. You have to also make space for fun and free time.
At Ashore, we choose locations that offer you the options to make your own fun at your leisure. For example, staying at The Grain Store in Lewes, you have hiking trails along the South Downs, Brighton Sea Life Centre and any number of pubs and restaurants to enjoy.
However, beware of trying too hard. Too many “organised fun” activities can actually be a turn off. Instead, just create the conditions and keep it simple.
Enjoying your work is fundamental to a great employee experience. Giving employees a memorable, rewarding and productive retreat adds to their overall experience.
Happy employees are more engaged and more likely to stay where they are. And that’s great news for your productivity, employee morale and retention figures.
At Ashore, we see the forest and the trees: the little details and the big picture.
We know that, the way we work today, there’s a trend towards working in smaller teams.
With good reason.
Smaller teams tend to be more efficient and effective. They’re more creative. They’re better for work-life balance. They allow us to cultivate deeper team bonding and more meaningful working relationships.
With smaller teams, everyone’s voice is heard and everyone’s contribution can be recognised.
That’s why we don’t go for the traditional corporate retreat model. We know that it’s not what today’s employees need, or want. To get the best of the benefits that a corporate retreat can deliver, we know it’s best to keep it small and keep it simple.
Here’s how we do it.
Whether your team needs to complete a project, get inspiration for something new, or if you simply want to offer them a reward and a chance to relax and reset, an Ashore retreat is just the ticket.
Join Ashore to the benefits of our corporate getaways for your teams.