The new office

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Workers have disconnected with traditional office space, leaning into private escapes for inspiration and team collaboration.

With office closures and many companies ending their leases, what does the office of the future look like? High-rise company headquarters, office board meetings and team lunches are slowly being replaced by team outings and inspirational retreats. From new hires to senior-level teams, companies are offering their employees exclusive retreats for wellness and reconnection in nature-focused sanctuaries, and hospitality brands are stepping up to the plate to replace drabby office walls with outdoor adventure.

Salesforce is opening a wellness center for its employees to encourage employee engagement and collaborative company culture after two years of remote work. The “Trailblazer Ranch” will combine work, training, and wellness for a minimum of two nights’ stay in an attempt to maintain corporate culture in a hybrid or remote work culture environment. Located in Scotts Valley, California, the space is hosted by educational retreat nonprofit 1440 Multiversity and includes an amphitheater, sustainable dining, a yoga sanctuary, multiple large meeting spaces, and plenty of outdoor space for meditation and hiking. New hires and employees who the company deems appropriate will be invited to stay, recuperate, and reconnect with their company culture.

Image courtesy of Branches

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Brands are expanding their offerings to include company-focused hospitality in order to accommodate team building and employee connection. Branches, located in the Catskills just 100 miles outside of New York City, opened a pop-up retreat center for 2022. It offers companies exclusive accommodation for work with space to reconnect with nature. Its on-site fitness activities include hiking, fishing, swimming, tennis, as well as culinary activities, meditation and nutrition workshops for holistic wellness rejuvenation. Branches aims to promote both wellness and corporate-focused networking at its popup and plans to unveil a more permanent offering in 2023.

"Companies are turning to flexible work policies and require space to host team meetups for geographically distributed teams to collaborate in person," Steve Sanchez, Founder and CEO of Branches, tells Wunderman Thompson Intelligence. "With smaller real estate footprints and less office use, companies are hosting corporate retreats to increase employee satisfaction, retain talent, and build corporate culture."

Image courtesy of Cape Resorts

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Increasingly, existing hotels are reimagining their own hospitality to accommodate workers who need to connect outside of a formal office space. Beach Plum Farm, a 62-acre working farm located in West Cape May, New Jersey, now offers a flexible meeting retreat for senior-level teams to stay, reconnect, and strengthen their team collaboration. Comfortable cottage accommodations paired with team-building activities, leadership activities, wellness offerings and even team competitions are set up and prepared for employees upon arrival. Interested companies can choose from a variety of activities depending on their goals for the retreat, while simultaneously disconnecting from busy corporate life.

“As businesses once again focus on growth, it is important for leaders to define clear success strategies and lead through collaboration. And one of the most effective tools leaders have at their disposal is an annual retreat," Trudy Wilson, Director of Sales and Events at Cape Resorts says. "Whether defining goals, creating ways to engage remote workers, or simply reconnecting as leaders, studies have shown that these in-person engagements deliver the highest ROI of any event, regardless of format."

Many companies have already begun embracing the benefits of rewilded offices, redesigning their spaces around nature. These new corporate spaces are bringing biophilic healing to new heights, pointing to a future corporate wellness infrastructure.

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The travel and hospitality industries are shifting gears to accommodate a new type of visitor: the 9-to-5 worker.

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