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Your Guide to Virtual Work Retreat Ideas

virtual work retreat ideas

Plan a virtual retreat for your team with these 11+ virtual retreat ideas and activities!

In this guide, you’ll find ways to recognize your employees, boost well-being and morale, and create moments for fun as well as learning. After all, getting creative with your virtual events and meetings is a “must” when it comes to keeping employees engaged and excited!

The right digital retreat can help employees feel excited about growing their future with your organization. Read on to learn how!

A few of our favorite virtual retreat ideas:

Read on for more information on these virtual team retreat ideas, and more ideas!

  • Host a virtual award ceremony
  • Plan a virtual picnic or potluck
  • End your virtual company meeting with a happy hour
  • Treat employees to a relaxing weekend away

In this guide, you’ll find:

  • Virtual retreat ideas to help remote workers feel connected and motivated
  • Activities for fun and unique virtual company retreats
  • Ideas for company wide retreats and smaller teams
  • Virtual team building activities for your online retreat

What is a virtual retreat?

Virtual Retreat Ideas Why Plan a Virtual Retreat

A virtual retreat is a time to pause and connect with your employees, setting aside the day-to-day work to focus on bigger-picture goals. For instance, you might take time to review and set goals for your company’s growth, or your personal growth.

Your virtual retreat might be an all-day event, or you can schedule a series of events over the course of several days or a week.

Why plan a virtual retreat?

A virtual retreat is an opportunity for your team to connect and reset. It’s a time to set aside the daily work of your organization and “zoom out” to see the big picture. Virtual retreats can help ensure your team is aligned on overarching goals. Additionally, you can include time for employees to connect with each other and get to know each other better over casual conversation, games, or interactive activities.

Your virtual retreat might include:

  • An update on company goals, growth, and strategic direction
  • Games, trivia, and other fun activities
  • Recognizing employees for their achievements
  • Guest speakers or entertainers
  • Intermissions for employees to catch up on emails, get a snack, etc.

Virtual Retreat Activities & Ideas

Virtual internship team building activity - music evolution

Book a Turnkey Virtual Experience – Learn About Music, Street Art, & More – One of Our Favorite Virtual Retreat Ideas!

Add some fun to your virtual retreat – without a lot of planning! Unexpected Virtual Tours offers turnkey virtual team building experiences. Our happy clients include Coca-Cola, Google, Salesforce, The Home Depot, and UPS, among others.

Our fun and educational team building sessions are the perfect way to create opportunities for connection, laughter, and reflection for your employees.

Unexpected Virtual Tours’ interactive team building experiences include:

  • Design-A-Golf Course
  • European Vacation
  • Music Evolution (DEI team building event)
  • Street Art (DEI team building event)
  • Seasonal events: Black History Month, She Innovates (Women’s History Month), Pride, Juneteenth, Hispanic Heritage Month, Halloween Ghost Stories

Additionally, we offer custom corporate events for organizations with specific topics or goals in mind.

Learn more and book your virtual team building experience!

Honor Team Members with Virtual Award Ceremonies

Recognize your team members for their hard work with a virtual awards show. During this activity, you can recognize each of your employees for their unique contributions to the group. Send them a digital certificate listing their achievement. Or, mail them a trophy or framed award for their home office!

An important note: be mindful of giving out awards that may reinforce unhealthy workplace culture. For example, a “Perfect Attendance Award” might be well-intentioned. But, it reinforces the idea that employees shouldn’t take days to rest when they’re feeling ill, or to care for family. Instead, reward employees for the situations and accomplishments they have control over.

Virtual picnic and virtual potluck

Host a Virtual Potluck or Picnic

While office-based teams might organize an in-person company picnic, your remote team can plan a virtual picnic or potluck! Create a fun e-vite to share the details. Then, encourage everyone to log in from their patio or backyard, a local park, or another picnic-like spot, if they’re comfortable doing so.

This can be a unique way for your team to bond as they share what they’re eating and where they’re logging in from. Additionally, teams scattered around the globe can show off their surroundings. For instance, maybe one team member is logging in from a skyline rooftop patio, while another is lounging near their garden.

Let the conversations flow and your team members enjoy the chance to catch up and get to know each other!

Play a Murder Mystery Game

Add some fun to your virtual retreat with a murder mystery game! Remote teams can work together to piece together clues and solve the puzzle.

There are a variety of companies that offer virtual murder mystery experiences. Alternatively, you can create your own murder mystery game!

Use You Dunnit‘s personalized game generator to plan your own unique murder mystery game!

Work Retreat Airbnb VRBO

Offer Employees a Retreat Stipend for a Weekend Away – One of Our Favorite Virtual Retreat Ideas!

In 2021, SPANX founder Sara Blakely made headlines when she gifted each of her employees $10,000 and two first-class plane tickets to anywhere in the world. The billionaire CEO’s gesture was in celebration of a completed deal with private equity firm Blackstone.

Of course, many companies don’t have the budget to offer employees such a large gesture. However, you might have the budget to treat employees to a weekend away! Consider gifting employees a stipend for a mini-retreat where they can relax, reset, and reconnect with themselves.

Sometimes, we need a change of scenery to spark new creative ideas or solutions. For instance, team members might book a staycation to enjoy the luxury of room service and quiet solo time. Or, maybe they’ll head to a cabin and hit the trails for some rejuvenating time in nature.

Get inspired – see which companies are offering vacation stipends for employees, including Expedia, Calendly, and Evernote.

Virtual Retreat Family Meet and Greet

Invite Family, Roommates, & Pets to Join a Virtual Happy Hour – One of Our Favorite Virtual Retreat Ideas!

Get to know your team members on a more personal level. For those who are comfortable, invite your team members’ family, roommates, or pets to join  a post-retreat happy hour!

This can help build feelings of connection and camaraderie, and help your team members see each other as whole people beyond their job titles.

For creative happy hour ideas and activities (including mocktail options!), explore our guide: Unique Virtual Happy Hour Ideas.

Give Your Retreat a Theme

Why not jazz up your retreat with a theme? You can encourage everyone to pick an on-theme video call background and even dress up! Moreover, you can get creative by starting meetings with an on-theme song, or sharing themed quotes or recipes.

Virtual retreat theme ideas:

  • Decades – the 80s and 90s are especially “in” right now!
  • Beach, tropical, or “fun in the sun”
  • Summer camp (think: s’mores, craft activities, campfire stories)

You can also opt for a retreat theme that reflects your corporate goals. For instance: sustainability; diversity, equity, and inclusion; or wellness in the workplace.

Corporate retreat coffee chats

Pair Employees Randomly for Introductory Coffee Chats

In many companies – and especially in a virtual workplace – it can be challenging to get to know coworkers outside of your department or projects. As part of your virtual retreat, consider pairing employees randomly with a coworker for a 30-minute coffee chat.

Use the free platform Donut to set up random coffee chats, along with other social opportunities for remote and hybrid teams.

Ideas to Make the Most of Your Virtual Retreat

Tips and best practices to pair with any virtual retreat idea above!

Plan Across Time Zones

While there may not be a perfect time that’s convenient for everyone on a global team, you can still plan your retreat being mindful of time zones. For instance, your virtual retreat might include a series of events that take place at varying times over a few days. Or, you might choose to offer regional retreats based on time zones.

Virtual Retreat Tips and Best Practices

Offer Breakout Rooms for Deeper Connection

It can be hard to connect with your coworkers on a video call that includes dozens (or even hundreds!) of people. While large group sessions can be a great time to share important company updates and presentations, you can also use breakout rooms during your retreat.

In smaller virtual breakout rooms,  employees can form deeper connections by engaging in dialogue with each other. For instance, you might split everyone into groups of 3-6 people for 20 minutes. You could simply prompt everyone to get to know each other with icebreaker questions. Alternatively, you can encourage groups to find a creative solution to a problem, or to brainstorm ideas around a topic relevant to your company.

You might also want to ensure that breakout rooms have people from different departments, to encourage cross-company connections.

Send Employees Something Tangible

Want to deepen the impact of your virtual retreat? Send employees something tangible to enjoy during the experience, or to keep as a souvenir! Your team can bond over their special treat, or even “unbox” their items on a video call!

Gifting your employees something special mailed to them is a fun way to appreciate your team and help them feel connected to their company.

Employee gift ideas for a virtual retreat:

  • Starbucks e-gift cards to give your team a pick-me-up
  • Let employees choose an e-gift card with a service like Giftogram
  • A stylish, high-quality water bottle with your company logo
  • Candles to help everyone reset and relax
  • A potted plant to celebrate “growth”

For more team building ideas, explore our guide: 40+ Free Virtual Team Building Activities. You can also explore our Tours Page to explore live, interactive virtual team building experiences offered by Unexpected Virtual Tours!