This article will help you maximize your time offsite at a company retreat, and show why Costa Rica is a great location for getting the perspective needed to clarify and plan your company’s goals for the coming year.

By Laurel Brauns, Guest Contributor

Some projects take a lot of planning, teamwork and brainstorming and they simply will not fit into an afternoon meeting. A company retreat might be exactly what you need to hash it out. But where to start?

Step 1 – Know Your Goals

Planning a retreat that will keep things exactly as they are is not a good use of your staff’s time. There should be a solid business purpose; otherwise it’s better to do something else with your company’s resources.

Start from the front and work backwards. Identify what you would like the conclusion of your retreat to look like. Be specific! What is missing from your company? What is it you would like to see changed? Can you narrow your retreat’s mission down to one or two solid goals that could reasonably be accomplished within a week? You can even break down each item and schedule sessions throughout the week during the times your employees will be at their highest thinking capacity. (This is often after exercise and before meals.) You will have the most success with a retreat that has well-planned outcomes and a detailed schedule.

Step 2 – Decide on the Logistics

And now onto the fun part: deciding where you will host your retreat! Think about your company culture and what type of atmosphere would resonate with the types of employees you attract. A Silicon-Valley start-up run by 20-year-olds is probably not going to feel at home at the St. Regis, nor are 50-something bankers likely to appreciate navigating through the jungle without a guide on a teambuilding expedition… but you never know!

A beachside resort in Costa Rica.

Resorts in Costa Rica offer the perfect balance of luxurious amenities combined with opportunities for adventure that will push your employees to the edge of their comfort zone – and that’s where the growth starts to happen! Blue Osa Beachfront Resort for example, has a gorgeous meeting space overlooking the turquoise waters of Golfo Dulce. The resort also provides farm-to-table community meals allowing for low-stress socializing amongst fellow employees, along with plenty of gathering spaces around the pool and overlooking the ocean. If your company retreat needs a healthy array of team building events, excursions like waterfall rappelling and zip lining can be organized by Blue Osa’s staff.

Step 3 – Use Your Time Effectively

Planning is your friend when it comes to company retreats! By the time you arrive at your retreat destination, attendees should have an itinerary as well as a good idea of how you are going to collectively accomplish your goals. How will you make decisions: by consensus or majority? Will you engage in debates, brainstorming sessions or will you branch out into small groups to discuss different ideas? Make sure you have thought through these concepts before the retreat and stick to the plan.

Step 4 – Key Principals for A Successful Corporate Retreat

Whether the goal of the retreat is to make decisions the company will implement in the coming years or to engage in creative conceptualizing and planning, the following are a few key principals to keep in mind throughout the course of your company retreat:

  • Collaboration

Everyone should have the opportunity to contribute something, and that goes for introverts too. Have them write down answers to questions instead of the typical blurting out or hand raising. Then everyone can deliver their ideas in an organized fashion. Another idea is having your co-workers put their ideas in an anonymous box with the same paper and same pens so all ideas will be received on equal grounds and no one will fear judgment or criticism.

  • Team Development

Use this time out of the office to look towards the future and map out how things are going to be different for the team. What are your next steps as a group? Teambuilding activities, such as the ziplining trip in Costa Rica mentioned above, are also a good way to diagnose underlying relationship issues within your team and of course, have some fun! Retreat is a priceless opportunity to work on team dynamics and communication and many destinations in Costa Rica, like Blue Osa Beachfront Resort, specialize in organizing high-quality experiences that will bring your team together.

  • Stay on Topic

It will be tempting when you first arrive to look at the many days ahead as an opportunity to discuss anything and everything you ever wanted to regarding your company and its future. Don’t do it! Keeping a running list of topics you can return to at the end of the week if there is time, and make sure your facilitator is well versed in the actual topics you wish to cover.

Planning a company retreat can be a thoughtful and fun process that may also allow you to clarify other goals and opportunities for your company in the future. The key is really to identify your goals for the trip and pick a destination that will offer the most support for these objectives. More and more companies are planning their retreats to Costa Rica because of its pristine environment, friendly people, and opportunities for teambuilding adventures.

During your retreat remember to stay on topic so you can make the most of your trip: most employees would rather work hard and play hard as opposed to spending endless afternoons in meetings when they could be experiencing paradise! Watch what happens when your co-workers are offered the perfect balance of productivity and relaxation in a healthy setting. This is where the magic happens! It is in this zone that you’ll be rewarded for all your efforts planning the perfect company retreat.

For more information on Corporate Retreats contact TCRN, an international retreat facilitator per email [email protected]

Laurel Brauns is a travel writer, musician, and yoga life coach. She has lived in Costa Rica for the past two winters studying yoga has believes this country offers powerful transformative experiences to visitors who are looking to immerse themselves in nature and healthy living. She is a regular contributor to the blueosa.com blog. Learn more at lifecoachingwithlaurel.com.