How to Run a Company Retreat for a Remote Team - Zapier
Some of the best activities we did were mostly unrelated to work.
We randomly paired people up each night of the week to prepare dinner for the others. There's something special about cooking a meal for your teammates that helps you learn a lot about one another. One evening after dinner we each went around and shared our story that lead to us working on Zapier. It helped create a shared sense of purpose that you don't get when you don't see each other every day. We hiked Mt. Rainer together. Doing something physical is also a great way to learn more about each other. We spent Friday night in Seattle celebrating Bryan's birthday.
We also spent time doing work-related things as well.
We sat down on the first night and picked a shared project we could all work on and launch by week's end. We ended up shipping RESTHooks.org, which outlines one of the most common and easiest patterns to follow for adding webhooks to your existing API. We visited with some of our partners (shout outs to Stride, Smartsheet and Optify). We visited the Startup Weekend HQ office, which is the event where we got our start. We did super sprints on support to see how fast we could answer support questions when we had more than just Micah and a Dev working on the support queue at the same time.
After doing a couple retreats, I think the best retreat combines something everyone on the team can work on in person along with multiple activities that help the team get to know each other better.