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Focus on Connection at Your Next Team Retreat

July 19, 2022 SHIFT

What's the first thing your team wants to talk about after not seeing each other for 1 or 2 years?

Hint: It has nothing to do with your business plan or company priorities.

Your people want to connect.

Theme of Our Recent Company Retreat: Connection

We recently hosted our first SHIFT team retreat of 2022, and we wanted to make the most of our 1.5 days together.

There were new teammates who had never met each other in person.

There were teammates who moved to different states, had babies, and celebrated other milestones since the last time we were face-to-face.

As other organizations are gathering for the first time in a long time, we want to share how we structured our latest in-person gathering.

Day 1: Connecting Through Creativity 🎉

Our goal for the first day of festivities was to set the tone for the next 24+ hours and focus on being together. We wanted to get out of the day-to-day and get into a creative headspace.

Intention Setting


To get ourselves in the right headspace, we grabbed some journals and took stock of how we were feeling.

One of our teammates shared thought-provoking journal prompts to ground us in the present moment.

Few of the prompts:

  • What do you hope to take away from our time together?
  • What are you proud of saying and doing over the past few years?
  • If your legacy is what you've helped others achieve, what would be your legacy?

Laughter Yoga


HubSpot Video


Gary Ware, our friend and founder of Breakthrough Play, facilitated a one-of-a-kind Laughter Yoga session.

What is Laughter Yoga? We asked the same question!

Laughter Yoga combines fake laughing with yoga breathing. It was amazing how fake laughing quickly turned into genuine full-blown belly laughing.

Backed by science, laughter has serious health benefits, including lowering blood pressure and increasing oxygen flow.

Another interesting fact: Kids laugh 180-200 times a day – whereas adults struggle to get to 18.

Can you imagine how much healthier and happier everyone would be if laughing, let's say, 40+ times a day was the new average for adults?

Mosaics Workshop


"Your life is like a mosaic, a puzzle. You have to figure out where the pieces go and put them together for yourself." – Maria Shriver

Founder of Blue Hyacinth Mosaics, Shona, brought her skills as an artist and educator to help us put the (glass) pieces together.

Each of us took a unique approach and had our own personal style. Our artwork was a way to bond beyond our usual work, and the entire experience was special.


Dinner Time

Is there anything more filling – physically and mentally – than breaking bread with teammates?


This is why we always end the first day of team retreats with dinner.

Even though the dinners are a constant, the restaurants we visit and the memories we make are always new to use.

Day 2: Unleashing Our Brainpower 🧠


While a lot can be done virtually, there's nothing quite like brainstorming with post-it notes and whiteboards. Don't forget the markers, Play-Doh, snacks, and a rabbit stuffed animal for when talkers go down the proverbial rabbit hole!

Today's working session focused on collaboration and critical thinking.

As a group, we wanted to spend time on a specific focus area, which in this case centered around our SaaS (software-as-a-service) platform called Latch.

With the help of Gerry Sandusky, leadership communication coach and voice of the Baltimore Ravens, we explored what the future of our Latch platform can look like from an innovation standpoint.

Extending the Experience


This retreat came at a symbolic time in our SHIFT history. We had the chance to unite and put the pieces together – many of which we already had and some yet to be discovered. We had the opportunity to acknowledge the progress we've made and the opportunities ahead.

Making use of our Latch platform, we kept the momentum going far beyond our event.

  • Pulse surveys offered deeper insight into what everyone was feeling after the event.
  • Video messages captured special moments while reinforcing key themes and commitments.
  • Responding to action and lesson prompts helped make sure that we didn't lose track of what we felt and wanted to do coming out of the retreat.

Ideas to Inspire Your Next Team Event

Start by asking yourself why you're bringing your team together.

Here are a few common reasons for team gatherings:

  • Setting/Reviewing/Resetting Goals – Does the leadership team need to share a strategy update?
  • Unifying Teams – Are there leadership changes or new team members to introduce?
  • Bonding Team Members – Do teammates feel inspired, connected, and engaged?
  • Aligning on Commitments – Does everyone understand their role and what they can count on each other for?

When you begin with the end in mind, you know what feeling and action you want to inspire. From there, you can build in the experiences that get you there.

Keep reading to pick up some ideas for fun experiences that we've designed for our clients and ourselves.

  • Enjoy an outdoor BBQ with a live band and fire dancers
  • Break out of comfort zones with standup comedy classes
  • Explore team-building while swinging through ropes and obstacle courses
  • Run around playing archery tag
  • Slow down with breathwork and meditation workshops
  • Get a different (upside-down) perspective through aerial yoga
  • Dress up like Elvis and do a scavenger hunt through DC
  • De-stress with acupuncture
  • Conquer fears with the help of live snakes and an animal conservation expert
  • Write notes of gratitude to give to teammates
  • Review Team DNA to build a better understanding of how to elevate the team's communication, and overall team performance

A lot goes into creating meaningful team experiences, but when done right, team gatherings can have an incredible impact. That's why we're passionate about helping other organizations facilitate memorable events.

Want to explore how we can work together to make your next event your best one yet?


TOPICS: Business Growth, Employee Engagement, Workplace Innovation, Leadership Development, Company Culture