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Virtual, But Together: Our 2020 Team Retreat

December 15, 2020

ticket for Mediacurrent's 2020 virtual retreat

Connections, Education, and Fun 

Tough times don’t last. Tough teams do.

With all the twists and turns of the year, it was especially important to come together as a team. A virtual company retreat gave our talented team a chance to take a pause and enjoy a day of connections, education, and fun. This post will give you a rundown of our virtual retreat including some planning tips we learned along the way.

Our Retreat Agenda

itinerary for a virtual retreat, 4 hour time block including company updates, team building activities, and a customer panel.

The theme of the retreat was “Tough times don’t last. Tough teams do.” We built an itinerary with ample break time and activities to reflect the theme. With Zoom backgrounds designed just for the retreat, the Mediacurrent team was camera-ready for the day ahead.

(Planning Tip: Making video or GIF backgrounds with subtle videos can be a lot of fun and help make these backgrounds stand apart from someone’s normal virtual meeting background, but make sure to provide a still version in case someone has trouble setting up a video background or doesn’t want to be distracted by it.)

The retreat kicked off with some company updates. We took this time to celebrate our recently launched work, share company goals, and review growth opportunities on the horizon for 2021. Committing to a half-hour segment, the updates were thorough but fast-paced. Soon it came time for a special team-building quest and trivia. To cap off the day, we welcomed a customer panel of six higher education marketing leaders to share their ups and downs of adapting the digital experience.

(Planning Tip: Although 4 hours was the perfect amount of time for our event, 15 minutes per break felt a little long to our team, but was just the right amount of time for the event planners and moderators to set up for the next activity. Test out your itinerary and do multiple dry runs of your event to determine the best amount of time for your breaks.)

Not Your Average Zoom Call

Mediacurrent team members laughing during a game of "beat the hacker" played over Zoom

With Zoom breakout rooms, we separated into smaller groups for a team-building activity and lunchtime trivia. Greenhat People joined to host “Beat The Hacker,” a virtual escape room. We put our heads together to solve a series of puzzles and brain teasers — our very definition of a good time! 

Brunch, Burritos, and Bragging Rights 

pre-event retreat mailer with Mediacurrent branded print materials, including stickers and a copy of the company newsletter

We decided not to skimp on print. A pre-event swag bag was an unexpected touch to get everyone excited. The mailer included a Visa gift card for everyone to order their own choice of lunch for delivery. Brunch foods and burritos ruled the menu as we all enjoyed a round of team trivia. Plenty of laughs were shared over a fierce (but still good-natured) competition.

(Planning Tip: Sending printed items was key in making the event feel like a real event, and not like our team was just logging on for another meeting. Don’t skip this step, and send things that will not only match your theme but that your team will get excited about.)

We’re All in This Together 

Mediacurrent team on camera in Zoom grid view

One of the biggest goals for this retreat was to find a way to reflect on the impact of our work throughout the year. To end the day, we were joined by six of Mediacurrent’s higher education partners. Members of the customer panel ran the gamut from two Ivy League universities to a college for holistic health. 

(Planning Tip: Just like with a real major event, send your panelists an email a few days before the event with important information like how to log on to the meeting, personalized virtual backgrounds like you sent to your team, and the questions they’ll be asked during the panel. Extra points for branding this email with the event theme—We use Stripo for our internal communications)

We heard how these marketing leaders from diverse institutions are dealing with shifting recruitment strategies, staffing reductions, and other challenges impacting the digital experience.

 It was encouraging and rewarding to hear how working with our team was a bright spot in an often rocky year: 

“The best part of my week is project meetings with Mediacurrent...you speak the same language that I do.”

"I had complete trust in the team and you didn't let us down.”

“I’ve needed things more quickly. Mediacurrent did that and it’s made the difference between sinking and swimming this year.”

“Mediacurrent has done a good job of understanding what matters to our stakeholders and helping us navigate accessibility. That’s a huge priority.”

“The availability and transparency with the Mediacurrent team has been wonderful”

(Planning Tip: Come up with 3 questions to ask the panelists and 6 backup questions in case you go through the others too quickly, but leave plenty of time for Q&A with your team.)

Looking Ahead 

That’s a wrap for our ‘virtual, but together’ 2020 retreat! Overall, this format did the trick for a day of team togetherness, reflection, and fun.    

Did your company retreat go virtual this year? What worked well, and what didn’t?

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