By James Fisher for Big Blue Adventures.

The value of corporate retreats in the remote working world will be significant.

No matter what your thoughts are on the year of 2020, we can all at least agree on one thing; it definitely did not turn out the way we’d hoped. Maybe you had wedding plans put on hold, maybe you had to skip celebratory birthdays, or maybe you just really missed seeing your friends and family – we know we did! As every news channel constantly reminded us, it was an unprecedented year, and the last thing you gave a second thought to was finding the perfect corporate retreat.

2020 was, by and large, a year to forget. We were mostly confined to the four walls of our homes which, unsurprisingly, grew fairly old fairly quickly. Living rooms turned into classrooms, spare rooms turned into offices and bathrooms turned into places to escape. However, with every dark cloud, there’s a silver lining.

Despite all of the negatives that engulfed 2020 into one big confusing mass of time and space, we couldn’t help but realise what was important. For the first time in a long time we were forced to stop the daily grind and take a moment to reflect. We had things stripped away from us that we had perhaps taken for granted for a little too long. We were separated from our friends, we couldn’t meet up with our loved ones and, something we personally missed, we couldn’t enjoy time in the great outdoors.

We now know how important and conducive these parts of our lives are to maintaining our mental health. We know that spending hours on hours inside staring at screens isn’t a healthy position to be in. We need that break. We need that connection with our peers. We need that burst of fresh air and some natural light to boot. We really need to start focussing on wellness and our deep feelings of contentment; 2020 has been the wake up call we didn’t want but we did require.

A women looking over the mountains in Madeira, Portugal
Madeira, Portugal is the perfect destination to reconnect with your team in nature when it’s safe to do so again.

Bring Your Home-Working Team Together

Because of these restrictions around COVID-19, the working lifestyle of millions has possibly changed forever. As social distancing and shielding become top priority for the safety of the country, government rules and guidelines have forced a new perspective on working from home.

Pre-2020 may have seen a select few working from home perhaps just one day out of five. Fast forward 12 months and spending your entire working week in the home office has become the new norm. No more supermarket trips at lunchtime, no more avoiding small-talk and no more coffee-fuelled commutes. According to the Office for National Statistics, over 80% of people working from home in April 2020 were doing so due to the coronavirus.

Whilst working from home has undoubtedly had its positives, the lack of social interaction will inevitably take its toll. Zoom calls and Facetimes just aren’t the same as real life conversation; our brains haven’t evolved far enough to recognise these as meaningful interactions.

What’s more, the separation of employees has had a real effect on the atmosphere around the culture of many companies. From spending five days a week socialising with colleagues, to sitting lonely in a home office; the lack of human interaction has had an unpredictable reaction for many employees.

If we don’t take a conscious approach to combating the negative effects of working from home, we could find ourselves with some real problems in the future. For all of its benefits, working from home can be lonely. Hours turn into days, days turn into weeks and, before you know it, the only other person you’ve seen all month is the Amazon delivery driver.

Through years of studies, loneliness has been linked to many negative effects. These include elevated blood pressure, a higher risk of obesity, an increased engagement with unhealthy behaviours and, unsurprisingly, poor mental health. To keep your home-based team performing at its peak, we suggest regular and meaningful adventure experiences. Working from home team building activities are arguably more important now than ever before – Enter stage left: corporate retreats.

What Is A Corporate Retreat?

A corporate retreat is a fantastic way of helping your team get to know each other in a new environment outside of the workplace. It’s a break from the daily hustle allowing quality time to focus on the business, the purpose of the company or to work on the team’s synergy. We know that new experiences and exciting adventures really help to drive camaraderie amongst colleagues, that’s why a Big Blue Retreat has a focus on watersports, outdoor activities and a hit of wellness to produce a unique setting for teams to enjoy.

We also understand that breaking the structure of the office routine isn’t something that can be done every day. So when you do – it should have a clear objective and be filled with adventure, laughter and all-round good times to create bonds that will help your team operate in a state of high-performance.  

Gone are the days of trust exercises and circular-seated get-to-know-each-others in stuffy conference rooms. Inject some beginner friendly adventure, push some boundaries, have fun and unite your crew on team building trips using the natural world as the perfect setting to reconnect offline.

What is a corporate retreat? A team enjoying the surf in Algarve Portugal with Big Blue Adventures

The Benefits Of Spending Time Outdoors

As humans we inherently rely on the closeness of our social circles for emotional feedback. Our lives are enriched by the relationships we have with family members, friends and peers. It’s how we build trust, inspire change and maintain our mental health, but, unfortunately, a lot of that has been taken from us during the current lockdown many of us are still facing.

One way to combat the confinements of whichever tier you find yourself in, is spending time outdoors. Taking the time to appreciate being outside is something that can often be overlooked. Our lives are overrun with meetings, commutes, screens and deadlines. We’re constantly on the go and it’s rare that we just take a moment to stop, breathe and feel.

The benefits of being outdoors are not only apparent in the way we feel after a long walk or a refreshing swim, they’ve also been scientifically proven throughout years of research. Spending time outside can:

  • Help To Combat Depression. One study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that people with MDD (major depressive disorder) showed significant increases in mood and memory after a walk in nature compared to those who spent time walking in an urban environment. This is a clear indicator of the natural outdoors helping to improve mental health.
  • Have Significant Health Benefits. Studies conducted by the University of East Anglia involving more than 290 million people, found that being exposed to larger areas of green space reduces stress, blood pressure and heart rate. It also reduces the risk of type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease as well as improving the quality of your sleep.
  • Improve Your General Mood. Spending just 20 minutes a day in a local park could be enough to improve your well-being, according to a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Health Research. 60% of participants recorded a higher score on their well-being questionnaire after regularly visiting one of three urban parks in Birmingham during the course of the test.
  • Increase Your Levels Of Vitamin D. It’s not called the sunshine vitamin for nothing. The sunlight on your skin kick-starts a process that leads to the eventual creation of vitamin D. This has been suggested to have many protective attributes including fighting against osteoporosis, cancer, depression and heart attacks. Of course it has to be sunny for this to be of benefit and we all know what the UK weather can be like. Though if you are lucky enough to find yourself enjoying a hot sunny day for prolonged periods, we always suggest using eco-friendly sun cream that doesn’t harm the ocean like many high street options from the shelf! (Seeking the perfect sunny corporate getaway? Join us for a corporate retreat in Portugal.)
  • Be A Great Way To Exercise. Getting out of the office to go for a hike or a surf is a great way of exercising no matter your fitness level or ability. The spectacular surroundings often make us forget we’re even exercising and this leads to a much more relaxed and enjoyable time. This exercise produces feel-good endorphins that become addictive, creating a regular and healthy hobby!
A lady enjoying the surf in Gower south Wales while on a corporate retreat for remote working teams
Enjoy the Blue-zone and a hit of vitamin-sea while on a team getaway in Gower, south Wales.

Reconnecting Offline

Reconnecting offline can provide your team with a whole host of mental and physical benefits. Doctor and author Wallace J Nichols has recently coined the term ‘Blue Mind’, this is a “mildly meditative state characterised by calm, peace, unity, and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life in the moment.”

This state of mind largely stems from being in or around large bodies of water, most notably the ocean. Spending time by the sea improves our mood and can have a significant effect on our mental health and overall wellbeing. What better way to combat the loneliness of working from home than by bringing the whole team together on some offsite team building activities.

The state of our mental health has quite rightly been at the forefront of many discussions and debates over recent years. Just as we should look after ourselves physically, our mental wellbeing deserves the same attention. Spending time outside can help alleviate depression, reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, help to appreciate nature and improve our mood.

Swapping Screens For Teams

What’s more, in this digital day and age we are becoming more and more attracted to screens. We work with them, we connect with them and we watch our favourite shows on them. Don’t worry, we’re not going to go all anti-social media on you; we appreciate the benefits of technology as much as the next adventure company. But more often than not we can find ourselves aimlessly scrolling through our phones without any real destination. In other words, our helpful smartphones have become a mindless habit.

But, as with everything, moderation is key. Instead of screen time, we feel that filling our spare time with exploration is paramount to reconnecting with the real world. Feel the cold embrace of the mountain wind, experience sweeping views of breath-taking landscapes or just take a moment to appreciate the natural world that surrounds us. These may all seem like faraway opportunities, but these are all real possibilities that Big Blue Adventures can provide for your team.

Eco Focussed Peace Of Mind

As well as encouraging others to enjoy the great outdoors, we also have a huge focus on sustainability. In fact, the light-bulb moment to create Big Blue Adventures came on the back of a charity sea-kayaking challenge founder Daniel Manley participated in around the Isles of Scilly back in 2015. That trip helped raise awareness of plastic pollution in our seas and vital funds for the amazing Marine Conservation Society. So, Big Blue has always had the passion to ‘leave only footprints’.

We can only enjoy this planet if we look after it and we always aim to leave our adventure destinations in a better state than we found them. So, to do this we’ve partnered with Mossy Earth to help offset our carbon footprint. Mossy Earth is a vitally important company that restores wilderness through projects such as reforestation and rewilding. They operate around the globe with science backed research, implementation and monitoring.

Other ways we help to do our thing is include beach cleans on retreats for willing teams (which actually has fantastic CSR benefits) and support of eco-friendly companies with the goal of improving the planet, such as Flawsome drinks, Sea Change Wines and 4Ocean.

Beach cleans are not only great to protect the oceans but they provide companies with a nice CSR activity!

Adventure = Happiness!

At Big Blue Adventures we deliver quality corporate retreats based around our love for watersports, outdoor activities, exploring and good vibes – offline! Our team building activities are always beginner friendly and we see first-hand the benefits of pushing some personal fear boundaries and doing some a bit different has on individuals, as well as the team togetherness. You can also think of us as your convenient one-stop shop for your next team getaway, as we also cover conferences and events, team training, wellness, accommodation and travel. Basically, everything you need for an epic corporate retreat with a sense fun adventure – we have you covered!

Fill out our online form for a quote or, alternatively, contact us via our online chat where our helpful team will be on hand to answer any of your questions. Stay safe, stay adventurous and see you soon!