Amid the pandemic, hotel properties stepped up their efforts to attract WFH employees who were looking for new “office” space.
For example, the Four Seasons Hotel One Dalton Street, Boston launched Conference Calls to Cocktails, a dedicated luxury business package designed for the digital nomad. And the Mandarin Oriental, Washington DC, introduced MOBase, an initiative that converted luxury guest rooms into office space offered as a monthly subscription.
But now that remote work has become a permanent feature rather than a temporary fix—45% of full-time employees in the United States were working partially or entirely remotely in September, Gallup poll finds—Properties are expanding these offerings to include entire teams, and in doing so, revamping the concept of a corporate meeting. After all, everything is offsite if you work from home.
Back in May 2021, at The Wall Street Journal‘s Future of Everything Festival, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff talked about taking the notion of a corporate retreat even further by building a resort, where Salesforce employees can stay with their families, that offers team building as well as orientation and training sessions for employees – similar to Crotonville, a General Electric Co. campus located in New York, or like Disneyland minus the rides. And the newspaper confirmed yesterday that the software giant has signed a multi-year reservation agreement for a 75-acre retreat amidst the redwoods of Scotts Valley, California, to create a work and wellness center for its nearly 100-year-old staff. 70,000 people. It will be known as the Salesforce “Trailblazer Ranch”.
While the idea of ”bleisure” or “workpitality” is not new, the need to accommodate these types of travelers has now grown exponentially due to the changing workforce.
Photo: Courtesy of BranchesThis is why Steve Sanchez decided to found Branches. “When I was in college, I had the flexibility of remote work and fled the city to hotels within a two-hour drive in the Hudson Valley to do focused work. We had two young children at home in a Manhattan apartment, and our family life and to-do list were a constant distraction. I realized then that there was no infrastructure to support remote working for people looking to escape the city and use nature as a tool for productivity and creativity.
The first Branches property is located in the Catskills, 100 miles from New York City, and is expected to be completed in 2023. The 32-acre resort is purpose-built for urban dwellers and digital nomad communities, and it aims to meet the needs of individuals, small teams and entire departments who want to prioritize wellness and nature but who cannot be completely absent from the office.
Although the upstate New York site is not officially open, a stripped down “pop-up” version has been opened exclusively for group retreats, including off-sites hosted by several startups. Sanchez said that “many businesses are interested in our upcoming renovation and believe there is a need for purpose-built facilities that do not also cater to weddings or other social functions. …Instead of the annual company retreat, distributed teams, fully remote companies [also known as FROGs—fully remote organizations] may schedule smaller team meetings several times a year.
Traditionally, offsite locations are designed to promote employee and business development, which can lead to increased productivity, engagement, results, profits, and return on investment.
“As companies refocus on growth, it’s important for leaders to set clear strategies for success and lead through collaboration, and one of the most effective tools leaders have is an annual retreat,” said Trudy Wilson, director of sales and events at Cape Resorts. “Whether it’s setting goals, creating ways to engage remote workers, or simply reconnecting as leaders, studies have shown that these face-to-face engagements deliver the highest return on investment. highest of all events, regardless of format.”
Photo: Courtesy of Cape ResortsShe added that corporate clients are still looking for the ability to socially distance and dine privately, as well as “reservation flexibility and generous cancellation policies due to evolving COVID restrictions.” Wilson also said that “the tea building business is in demand as leaders focus on reconnecting their leaders after working remotely for the past two years.” Cape Resorts’ Beach Plum Farm, a 62-acre working farm in Cape May, NJ, recently launched new group offerings featuring immersive team-building experiences for corporate retreats and leadership events, including including a range of activities such as horseshoe crab rescue, fishing charters, beach clean-ups, drum circles, scavenger hunts, farm yoga and even the chance to take part in operations agriculture such as harvesting chickens.
Right now, the biggest benefit of offsite activities might be the ability to reunite after long periods of working apart.
Photo: Courtesy of Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge“While live video calls have transformed the way we work, there’s nothing like a face-to-face, personal connection to convey real meaning and emotion,” said Sarah Cruse, General Manager of Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge, located in the rainforests of Clayoquot Sound in British Columbia. “It’s these candid, organic conversations along with the time spent together and shared experiences that generate the best ideas and innovations.”
She added that there is a trend towards smaller, more intimate corporate retreats and “a desire to get away from the screen and the boardroom to allow teams and colleagues to really bond. “. To do this, the lodge offers an extensive list of wilderness adventures – from helicopter tours to mountain hiking to canyoning – all of which can be tailored to suit a group’s needs as well as interests. personal of the participants. “It’s this more personal approach to corporate retreats that’s emerging as we look to host future corporate events,” Cruse said.
When it comes to accommodating remote workers, Sanchez said “properties need to do certain things well. Of course, super-fast commercial-grade internet is one of them. … Many users have multiple devices, and fast speeds are crucial to the growth of hybrid events, where a core team can host panels and fireside chats from our location with a global audience listening .
He also highlighted the need to use “activity-based design best practices that have reshaped the way flexible office buildings are designed. Common workspaces, quiet library spaces, and a desk with a big screen in every hotel room can set your property apart. Branch facilities include individual work booths and a group meeting room, conference rooms and private phone booths, as well as catering offerings such as a covered patio for al fresco dining.
Photo: Courtesy of BranchesWilson added that “it’s also helpful that the location is accessible to major cities where people would typically have offices and meetings.” Beach Plum Farm is within driving distance of several major East Coast cities including New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
Sanchez agreed, saying “remote teams are interested in visiting exciting places that take them out of their daily routine with access to the great outdoors, local activities and a thriving food scene.” He added that his team eventually hopes to open more branches in the northeast as well as across the country. “We believe there is room for a Branches retreat in drive-in leisure destinations near cities with large numbers of knowledge workers and high-income creators who fuel our digital economy. »
Photo: Courtesy of Branches
Photo: Courtesy of Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge