The weather in the DC area is dipping into its grey, windy, chilly season. Everyone is focused on completing all the urgent end of year tasks before enjoying (or surviving) a winter break at home. Here at Catalina, we always aim for a team holiday get together, but with employees scattered across the US and even Europe, a holiday party that includes everyone is just not in the cards. This conundrum (plus the temperature) leaves me dreaming about our Catalina Offsite Retreat that we were lucky enough to host in Mexico this year.
The problem of team bonding when your team is fully remote is not something that comes up only during the holidays. Though some of our employees know each other from previous jobs or seasons of life, many of our team members have never met in person. Some have never even spoken on the phone, as they work on separate projects. We strongly felt that it was time for the team to spend time together in a setting that allowed for interpersonal bonding and connections to be forged.
“Offsite retreats” and “team bonding” are not just corporate mumbo jumbo. Studies, such as this one from the Harvard Business Review, consistently show that teams that build personal connections with each other work together more cohesively. Similar studies have shown that employees who participate in team building activities outside of the workplace report a higher levels of job satisfaction, a sense of camaraderie, and improved communication and collaboration. Retreats can be an investment in your company’s success and employee retention.
At Catalina’s Offsite Retreat, we certainly bonded. People that had never met in person spent 4 days together eating, joking, getting to know each other’s personal interests, and, memorably, shooting tennis balls attached to bows and arrows at each other. Our shared experience of delicious meals, sweating buckets in the tropical sun, telling jokes that we would never tell around a conference table, and creating a strategy to pick off our boss with a tennis ball arrow is something that is invaluable. Not only do I feel more ready than ever to tackle the challenges of a busy winter season with my team, but I also carry with me a stronger sense of connection than the one I had before. Though our retreat was only a few days, and we have long since returned to the daily grind, the relationships we formed during our time away quickly translated into a more cohesive workplace. We are now already looking forward to the next time we can all be together.