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The Power of an Annual Retreat for a Remote-First Management Consulting Firm

TCG Retreat 2021: Orlando, Florida

I met four of my teammates for the first time in-person last week. That line usually lands a laugh or two from folks when I use it. While this is a reality for a lot of individuals due to the pandemic, we are a remote-first management consulting firm, so this will always be our norm.

TCG chose to be a remote-first company for many reasons: better quality of life for our team members, less impact on the environment, and lower costs to our clients to name a few. We are experts at using remote collaboration tools and have mastered the asynchronous communication game.

We block our calendars when we’re focused on our families and personal lives. Those blocks may include a 2-hour midday long run or a 3pm daughter’s soccer game. Others may thrive on a 10 to 8 workday with some breaks in between. Said differently, we are NOT waking up at 4am Monday morning to catch the first flight out of town to fly halfway across the country, spending more hours with the hotel staff instead of our kids, then blowing a half day Thursday afternoon travelling back home only to do it again three days later.

While we may not travel all the time, we have intentionally built in an annual retreat to allow for our team members to connect and collaborate on the things where in-person collaboration is more effective.

Last week we focused on the stuff that you just can’t do well remotely. Here are some of the things that I found most impactful from the in-person sessions:

  • Hugs and handshakes
  • Leading a company values brainstorm with sticky notes plastered around the room
  • Early morning group runs (it was hot even at 6am!)
  • Breakout sessions for our project management, product management, and operations teams
  • Playing with each other’s kids
  • 2022 annual planning with white pads and slide decks

As management consultants, we really get our energy off of working with others. While we have gotten great at remote collaboration and can get that excitement through the screen, there was something more powerful about getting all of us into the same room.

We found that the best sessions were the ones where the physical human interactions are critical – seeing hand gestures, making real eye contact, going shoulder-to-shoulder co-designing on a board. If you can pack your in-person sessions with things that really need to be done in person, then you can maximize the value you get out of your on-site gatherings. It may feel like a big investment to fly your remote team out to a central location, but we’re already feeling the benefits from it less than a week later.


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