BEAT THE RETREAT
WELCOME TO THE NEW FINANCIAL YEAR AND THE CONTINUAL RISE OF THE CORPORATE RETREAT. WHILE THE THOUGHT OF SPENDING A FEW FULL DAYS OFFSITE WITH COLLEAGUES IS PERHAPS LOATHSOME, IT NEEDN’T BE – NOT WHEN ARMED WITH OUR GUIDE TO MAKING IT WORK AS A STEP UP THE CAREER LADDER.
On the stupidity scale, these guys were right up there. Sent out on a team-building exercise, six employees from HSBC in the UK decided – in what can only be described as a group brain explosion – to flm a mock ISIS beheading, complete with orange jumpsuit, and post it on Instagram. Executives from the bank were swift to distance themselves from the staff members and terminate their positions within the company. Even if you’re not a rolledgold fool, the words, ‘corporate retreat’ can deliver a cold stab of fear through your chest. For a start, you’ll (usually) be spending an entire weekend in the company of people with whom you already spend fve days a week – and sometimes a couple of evenings, too, depending on whether attendance at functions forms part of the job description. Suffocating days trapped in a windowless room come to mind, with no view but a whiteboard for hours on end, broken up by zip-lining across a forest or playing a series of ‘games’ meant to build trust and teamwork. After the sun goes down, endless rounds of drinks – whether you’re at a formal dinner or a costume party (seriously, where’s the humanity?) – can lead to all sorts of potentially regrettable shenanigans. Back in the ’80s, Apple was banned from a Californian resort after nighttime nudie swims and a beach bonfre attracted the attention of the local constabulary. Closer to home, a friend of GQ was fred after attending a party in what was deemed a NSFW costume, dressed as Gene Simmons from KISS. Elsewhere, another nameless exec still struggles to live down the day a waiter presented him with his false teeth on a tray. On the lash with colleagues in the same hotel bar the night before, he’d somehow managed to lose them in the sofa cushions. (No, we’re not sure how he managed to go a whole day without them either.) Despite such horror stories, corporate retreats or work conferences, when handled correctly, need not be a complete waste of time or face. With just a little planning and mindfulness, think of it as an opportunity to show your worth and, most importantly, connect with colleagues.