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Team Retreats are Becoming Essential for Remote Tech Companies

Jul 7, 2021

My chat with TeamOut Founder Thomas Mazimann The COVID-19 pandemic has completely changed the way we work as more and more companies are planning to stay on with remote work even after the pandemic ends. There are challenges that companies need to overcome to improve team coordination and productivity while working remotely. Over the past year, the one challenge that many companies have faced has been coordinating team-building activities with their remote teams. It is much easier to arrange social interactions which lead to building relationships in the workplace when all the team members are at the office. It allows face-to-face correspondences in the form of training, meetings, and lunch or snacks. In short, being physically present under one roof fosters team building. Something that is not possible when you are logging into your workspace from your living room or study. This lack of communication with team members can negatively affect team morale, as studies show that people feel burnt out 69% more when working from home than while working from the office. Companies have already tried organizing virtual team offsites, however, it turned out that the experiences were unsatisfactory which only strengthened the urge of resuming physical team building activities during retreats. In order to be effective, a team-building exercise must be performed live and generate emotions, otherwise, it won’t impact coworkers and create a bond between them. To find out about the major challenges faced by remote working teams and how offsite team building activities can support and boost the productivity of remote teams, we reached out to TeamOut founder and CEO Thomas Mazimann. Thanks to the popularity of the business solutions he has developed—is known for his innovative mind, perfect team coordination, leadership qualities, and his unique ability to develop unique business solutions. Challenges faced by remote teams Lack of engagement and loneliness Over the past year, lack of engagement is one of the biggest problems companies have faced after going remote as employees feel less engaged as they are no longer surrounded by their team members. Especially people who live alone may feel demotivated, which results in less productivity at work. This problem has further worsened due to the issues they are facing because of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to a complete lack of motivation. Employee relations hampered The shift to remote work has also hit employee relations the hardest. As relationships are not only built on slack or zoom calls but they are also built by living experiences with one another. In an office environment, people will meet for lunch and chat about their family plans, have lunch together, talk about the things they are generally excited about. These things do not exist while working remotely. In general, it hampers productivity because of the poor trust factor between employees, especially if there are new joiners. As they may feel left out of the conversations making them feel like they do not belong. These relationships will affect the company’s productivity and team morale. On the contrary, teams with excellent cohesion thrive and can go through hard times together. Employees will go the extra mile because they want to help people they care about. Less than stellar onboarding sessions Another primary challenge faced by companies today is how to create a memorable remote onboarding experience for new hires. Managers can no longer give them a tour of the facility nor can the new members of the team meet everyone for lunch. It is things like these that make people feel like they belong. Today they receive a new laptop by mail like any other package they ordered on Amazon, join a new slack group, and here they are, ready to go to work. This approach is fundamentally weaker and has big consequences on how new hires feel about their new job. Why team retreats can be the solution? Team building activities like team retreats can benefit remote teams as it allows them to meet up and get to know each other. Thomas, whose own crew at TeamOut is working remotely, explained that to overcome these challenges they have made it a point to organize a team retreat once a month. His team rents out an Airbnb for 3 to 5 days and works together on one pressing subject. So that everyone in the team feels excited about making progress for the company. Over the past years, Thomas has developed and launched several business solutions that show his unique approach and ideas to help other businesses grow. Thomas is accredited with the success of Voxeet (acquired by Dolby Lab), an innovative product for web conferencing. Voxeet’s software uses 3D high-definition voice technology to produce immersive sound. This innovation became an instant hit because no other online conferencing software uses multiple microphones to reproduce natural location mechanisms, creating a virtual 3D audio space that makes listening to multiple users easier during a team meeting or conference. After the success of the highly popular web conferencing software—Voxeet, Thomas launched his first startup - Thomas is now working on’s flagship product, and an online team-building tool called TeamOut. TeamOut is another example of one of his innovative ideas that is changing the way we work remotely. He explained that in their previous retreat they worked on defining the new core feature of their product. All the team members from the Sales and Engineering team had to work together to accomplish one goal. The engineers discussed the technical feasibility of the feature while the sales team explained what they learned from the customers from their daily interactions with them. “At the end of the day, each team member left the meeting with a deeper understanding of his coworker's responsibilities. A shared sense of empathy and understanding facilitates conversations among team members and makes them more productive as a team as a whole. We've seen a boost in productivity and team morale after each retreat. ”—he shared. Such events work really well as they bring the team together. During the company event, employees get to know each other better and actually understand that they are a part of a team that is working with them to solve company problems. Such retreats do not necessarily have to be organized every month especially if the remote employees are stationed across the world, it may be difficult to fly everyone over every month, However, it is advisable to have them at least twice a year so that the whole team can have something to look forward to and be excited about. Similarly, such retreats can be used by the company to announce important news for the company and outline its objectives for the next year. The primary purpose of these gatherings is to have employees spend time with each other and build strong and lasting relationships. As employee relationships are the fuel of team collaboration, it benefits the company's performance and profitability. Final thoughts Team retreats are a great tool to build a company culture and make people excited about their job. Employees who just had the best experience in their lives with their coworkers will become more passionate about their company and will spread the word to everyone they know. by Craig Lebrau @craiglebrau . I find myself watching crypto charts more than movies these days. Also a keen blockchain developer. Read my stories

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