Gather is the perfect place to host your team's next virtual retreat. You can easily move from one activity to the next, split into breakout rooms or side conversations, and talk to each other naturally in between planned sessions.
This guide will help you get started and offer some of our best tips for hosting an engaging virtual retreat on Gather.
- A space on Gather. We recommend a Remote Office. Click here to get started.
- If your retreat is for more than 10 people, you'll need to purchase a subscription or reservation. Click here to read our Pricing Overview.
- The space design recommendations in this guide will require Build Tool or Mapmaker access. Review our User Roles and Permissions to make sure you have the access you need.
- Create your space. We recommend a Remote Office Space as they're already set up with a variety of conference rooms, desks, and social areas. Click here to get started.
- If you'll have more than 10 people at your retreat, purchase a subscription or reservation.
- Customize your space (if needed). Jump to this section for ideas.
- Plan your retreat sessions and activities. Jump to this section for ideas.
- Have fun! Enjoy the freedom of moving around, walking in and out of conversations, and strengthening relationships with your coworkers.
When hosting a retreat on Gather, you can customize your space to create an extra engaging experience for your team. You can spend as much or as little time on this as you want. Think about your goals for the retreat and how the space can help fulfill them. Most importantly, have fun with it!
Use the Text Tool to add labels. You could use this for:
- Labeling the rooms where different sessions will take place. ("Founder Q&A" or "Happy Hour")
- Adding key themes of your retreat as visual reminders. ("Customer Obsessed" or "Into the Future")
- Upload Custom Objects to make the space your own. For example:
- Add your company logo to the walls
- Add team photos throughout the space
- Add screenshots of customer feedback to read as you move around
Use the Mapmaker to customize meeting and social areas. Think about including spots where:
- Everyone can come together as a full team (a large conference room or All Hands space)
- Groups can break off into smaller conversations (smaller conference rooms or couches)
- People can chat 1:1 (small tables with seating for two)
- People can take a break or get some work done (personal desks or focus pods)
- People can naturally bump into each other as they move through the space (hallways or open courtyards)
Best Practices for Retreat Sessions and Activities
During your team retreat, you probably have a few different types of sessions or programming that you're trying to plan. We've grouped our best practices by some common examples.
For this type of session, you'll need to make sure you have an area in your space that's large enough for everyone to gather. There are generally two ways we see customers set this up:
- You can use one big Private Area (like a large conference room or All Hands room). This is best if you want everyone to be able to see/hear each other during the presentation, regardless of proximity. (This feels more like a traditional video call.)
- You can use the Spotlight feature or a Spotlight Tile so only the keynote speaker(s) can present to everyone. This is best if you want people to only see/hear the other people directly near them plus the person presenting. (This feels more like real life.)
Regardless of how you arrange this in your space, your keynote speakers will be able to share their screens, participants can react with emotes and chat, and you can record the meeting (available for Office Spaces with an Active Monthly Subscription).
In terms of setup, FAQ Sessions are similar to Keynote Presentations in that you'll want to hold them in a spot that's large enough for the whole team to gather.
Once you're all together, are a few ways you can facilitate questions:
- If you're in a Private Area, ask people to un-mute to ask their questions live. You can use the Raise Hand feature to keep track of who has questions.
- If you're not in a Private Area, ask people to walk up to a Spotlight Tile and then un-mute to ask their question live.
- Tell people to ask their questions in the chat. This is a great option if you want to encourage people to ask questions during a presentation.
- If you're using an external method for collecting questions (like a Google Form or Slido), you can embed the link into an object in the space so people can easily access it at any time during the retreat.
Gather makes it easy for your team to split into groups for workshops or breakout sessions: All you need to do is walk into a meeting room with a small group of people.
Unlike traditional video conferencing tools, you'll still be able to see everyone working in the space in their groups. Not only does this increase the sense of presence, but it also makes it easy to hop from one group to another.
If you're using a Remote Office Template, you can use the built-in Private Areas for your breakout rooms. If you need more or want to customize their appearance, you can use the Mapmaker.
If you plan to return to these breakout rooms often during the retreat, we recommend using the Text Tool to label each spot (for example, with the group's name or topic of the workshop). This will make each breakout room easy to find and give a sense of ownership to the group working in it.
Setting aside social time during your team retreat is a great way to help teammates strengthen relationships and build trust.
We recommend a mix of planned social activities and "downtime" when natural conversations can occur.
For structured activities, you can:
- Race go-karts in the Gather Grand Prix
- Play embedded board games
- Plan icebreakers and group games. Click here for a bigger list of team activity ideas.
For unstructured social time, we recommend:
- Telling your team to leave their video/microphone on as they move around the space. This can lead to quick hallway conversations as you bump into people. (And even a quick hello goes a long way to forming connections!)
- Leaving buffer time in between planned retreat sessions. This not only gives people a chance to get up and stretch in the real world, but also leaves time to mingle with others freely in Gather.
- Designating a break room or happy hour spot in your space. Somewhere that's intended for people to come and go when they're feeling social.