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Between Chaos and Boredom, How Do Company Retreats Find The Thin Line? We Ask El-Re7la

How do retreats really affect teams?

A 2017 study found that even though business owners know for a fact that occasional retreats build teams and affects productivity, only two in ten companies actually take their teams on retreats. In the last few years, more companies in Egypt have been familiar with the fruit of the concept – most notably the tech startup Instabug.

On this topic, we speak to one of Egypt’s most prominent retreat curators, ElRe7la, about their journey. The idea behind ElRe7la started as a side project between AlMaqarr Coworking Space and ElMashrou3’s reality TV show for Egyptian entrepreneurs. In 2016, ElRe7la was registered as an independent organisation. The founders, AbdelQader Ahmed and Muhammad Nagi, had attended and run several networking events across their careers. They experienced how weak 4-hour networking events were in building real networks and noticed how a particular gap existed.

In the meantime, Ahmed and Nagi noticed the powerful friendships that formed when groups traveled together. “They realised how both experiences lead to very different relationships being formed and imagined a travel experience just for founders,” Dalia Said, ElRe7la’s Content Director tells Startup Scene. “They wanted to design an experience that would show the real back stories of people behind the projects and build an experience to strengthen the relations so that they would help each other or collaborate on a business level moving forward.” 

Three years after ElRe7la’s inception, in spite of the rising prices of venues and transport, they started exploring interesting findings. “One year after our corporate retreat with one specific client we found the following: those surveyed were three different groups of campers who attended ElRe7la in different years and who worked in the same company. Understanding between co-workers has improved by 91%, complaints decreased by 86%, and team productivity increased by 70%,” she says.

“With a combination of wit, experience, humor and delight [ElRe7la] got us to open up, examine our bonds to one another, and cement strong relationships,” Karim El Sahy, CEO and co-founder of Elves, testifies. “Months afterwards, we still feel rejuvenated and we look forward to next years.”

“I tremendously enjoyed the depth and quality of your program at El-Rehla, which is on par with top global programs that I have attended. El-Rehla offers team building, personal development, and alignment with our strategic objectives in a friendly and motivating environment,” says Ayman Ismail, AUC VLab’s Director.

Claiming to host unconventional camping experiences outside of the city, ElRe7la brings together founders and corporate teams for a connective, reflective and habit changing experience. “Our programming is more holistic in that it engages the mind, body, and soul of the participants and throughout the journey participants get to build a deeper understanding and engage in very high levels of peer-to-peer learning,” Said says.


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