One of our fundamental values at Conduktor is “we learn”. We love constantly striving to improve, and I wanted to share how we put this into practice for our team when hosting our fourth company offsite. As a distributed company with employees based primarily in the UK, France, and the US, our team predominantly works remotely or in a hybrid manner. This year we gathered our team in Cély, on the outskirts of Paris.
Bringing a distributed team together provides numerous benefits, including a chance to kick off projects, celebrate wins, and encourage team cohesion. However, I think it is important to think about the purpose and goal of each offsite individually. For our fourth event, we could easily have followed our previous patterns and schedules and organized something very similar where the focus had been on packing in as much as possible.
Although for this offsite, we wanted something different. A change in pace and direction was needed for our team. The focus was not on cramming as many sessions, workshops and meetings in as we could. Instead, we really wanted to make sure that after a particularly turbulent ride for tech over the last year, we strengthened the communication and understanding of our strategy and vision, and gave our team a renewed sense of energy, purpose, and motivation for the rest of 2023.
Focusing on quality over quantity
Previous offsites have traditionally been a week-long, and though this might have provided us more time, in theory, to be together as a team, I think it’s safe to say that a week can overstretch people. Weekend travel, time away from other commitments, and jet lag can all contribute to a team feeling frustrated.
For this offsite, we aimed to get the balance right. We spent three nights at the venue, and Monday and Thursday were dedicated to travel. Also, updating our toolkit to include TravelPerk allowed our employees to book their own travel, with clear guidelines and a budget, meaning they were able to build more flexibility into their plans and manage their own time.
Catering to different needs
We have stayed at some incredible venues at our offsites but finding one that suits the needs of a growing team means changing our requirements every time. For previous offsites, our activities mainly focused on sports. Not everyone though is a sports fan, and with a diverse team, it’s important to offer an inclusive range of activities that can be enjoyed by everyone. Chateauform was able to offer varied activities including an Escape Room, a cooking challenge, and an Olympic Games with a twist.
Along with offering this variety, we made sure that our teams for each “challenge” or activity were deliberately mixed up so folks from different countries, departments and seniority levels all got the chance to work on something together; in many cases for the first time. This was truly great to see, and already I am seeing the benefits of bringing our people together and the collaboration and projects that have come out of this since.
Keep calm and communicate
It’s impossible to predict months in advance all of the challenges that might arise when planning a company offsite. It’s safe to say though we didn’t expect our Paris event to fall simultaneously with nationwide strikes and protests against France’s pension reform. Our People team worked incredibly hard to make sure we had a contingency plan, and that risk and travel disruption were minimized. With train strikes in France, we weren’t even sure half the company would be able to get to our venue!
With an international team, it’s paramount to be mindful of different levels of knowledge and comfortability in travelling to areas that might be proving unpredictable. We ensured we had backup plans for all transport, and made ourselves comfortable with the fact we might even have to reschedule the whole event for another time/place. Our People team communicated this to our team transparently and clearly, and we adapted where necessary: changing some travel plans and meeting points. Luckily in the end we were able to go ahead with our offsite but if needed, we would have changed our entire plan.
These are just some of the learnings I have taken from hosting our fourth offsite event, and personally, I have been left energized, inspired, and eager for our fifth offsite! I hope our employees have felt the same, and if our post-offsite survey is anything to go by, it seems they did. 100% of the team rated the event 4 out of 5 or above, and we have also found a notable increase in our team’s self-identified confidence and knowledge of our products and strategy for 2023 since hosting.
If you are interested in joining us for our next offsite find our careers page here with all our current open positions.