We hired an Airbnb in Whalley for the whole team to work together, and it was fantastic. In this blog post I'll explain why we did it, how it went, and some tips to help you if you're thinking of doing the same for your business. But for now.... watch this sweet little video of the first 24 hours of our workation which sums up our team personality.
Before covid hit, we had it in our contracts that the staff could work from anywhere. They chose to all work from the studio, so they can be together. It worked. It was great. Nobody knew any different. But when Covid hit the world, we were forced to work from home (WFH). It was a huge adjustment to move the whole business to WFH.
But we quickly realised how great it was. The benefits are huge. Performance went through the roof. It reduced stress levels for various reasons - no travel time to work, more sleep, ability to stroke your dog,flexible working hours etc.
So when we were all able to go back to the studio, we asked all the staff what they'd prefer to do. WFH all the time, work from the studio, or a bit of both. It was unanimous, everybody wanted to WFH with the option to come into the studio when they wanted.
So we let them do that.
Sounds simple, right?
But believe me, some bosses don't trust their staff enough to WFH.
So now that we knew everybody was going to WFH and pop into the studio on occasions. This meant not everybody would see each other, so it was very important to us to keep the social aspect of working together, to keep the culture we had built up over many years. With this in mind, we told our newly appointed Account Manager, Tallulah, that she had to organise events in the diary consistently. Whether it be going out for a meal, a few drinks in the pub, a workation, a sunny trip to Barcelona etc. Keeping people together, communicating, bonding, building relationships is vital in my opinion. We didn't want to lose this.
So with that little intro/background information - let's fast forward to today, and tell you about our recent workation.
It's pretty simple to be honest, these were mandatory....
• No more than 1 hour drive for anyone
• Enough beds for everyone
• Large dining table so we can all eat together
• Areas for us to work from
• A pub/restaurant nearby
And a hot tub was a nice-to-have.
I fully believe in work from home, our productivity has gone through the roof. Stress levels are down, and everyone is happy. But I also believe culture in a workplace needs to be good. People need to communicate and build relationships. At the end of the day, if you enjoy the people you work with, you're going to produce better work... because you're in a better mood.
You can't truly get to know somebody through email or zoom or slack.
It's a nice treat for staff to enjoy. To look forward to going somewhere new. To talk IRL with their work buddies. Whether I'm in a pub with a client building a relationship, or we're in a mansion talking to our colleagues... building relationships is key. And you get to know somebody miles better in person.
Tom chilling in the Airbnb in Whalley
It's not just my opinion as the Boss. I don't just think about myself when organising things like this. It's about the team. So let's listen to what some of the team had to say about our trip away together.
"Wow, what a fab few days that was!
Getting away in a relaxed environment really helps you get to know your team and develop your relationships. As an account manager the relationship you have with each team member is really important so trips like this are really beneficial.
I’d say my favourite parts of the trip were the people, the hot tub, the taskmaster games and our 10k hike…i’m looking forward to the next one already."
"I enjoyed working in a different environment with the whole team in one place and the activities we did each day (especially the quiz on Tuesday) there was so many funny moments… Personally the only thing I didn’t enjoy was the pizzas on Tuesday night.
For me, the main benefit was getting out of my daily routine WFH and it was good to have a good catch up with everyone, which we don’t do often enough
I really enjoyed the ‘workation’ as it gave us a chance to all work together (which we haven’t done since pre-Covid) in a more relaxed environment and the activity’s were mega fun, lots of laughs, and beer which is always a plus!
I think we should do things like this more often"
"Who knew hiring a mansion and taking a tonne of booze with you could be so fun! As we are all still pretty much working from home full time, this trip was a class way to get the whole team together, catch up and get merry.
I love that Shape is such a tight squad of people, which made doing something like this all the more absolute lols.
The highlight for me has got to be 'GO ON GUUUUUUUURRL!!!'. It's an inside joke, but if you watched our instagram stories you'll know what I'm chatting.
Right, where are we going next?!"
"Having the opportunity to bond with everyone outside of a work environment in a relaxed way was the best. From eating and cooking together, to playing games and being active - it’s not the usual things you get to experience during a normal work day, or on a work night out.
It’s important to take a day or two to relax and recuperate from all of our busy schedules, both at work and home. We intertwined work with fun activities and moments of relaxation (hot tub gets a special mention) which I believe has a huge impact on physical and mental health, as well as motivation and creativity which is crucial in our industry. We also just had a great laugh, what more can you want?
An unconventional, and bloody brilliant, work trip that I think every business should do. Trust me, do it and thank me later."
"Myself and the Shape team went on a fab work trip away. We had tasty food and drinks, along with some fun and crazy games.
You could tell everyone really enjoyed themselves and we were laughing so much, it was great to relax and hang out with the team.
I especially liked our long hike up Pendle Hill. We were lucky with the weather and finished it off with ice cream."
"Shape’s workcation in one word was class. It allowed the team to improve our work-life balance by providing an opportunity to work while also taking time to relax and recharge.
From competitive party games to relaxing in the hot tub, this provided the time to build stronger relationships within the team.
With a few drinks in there for good measure of course. It was a great laugh. I can’t wait for the next away day."
"The whole team getting together, and for everyone to get to know everyone better, and have a few days to just relax and have fun is the main thing I enjoyed. But the individual things... Working all together, smashing out some Mario Kart, trying to get 240 soggy tea bags in to a teacup, Tallulahs reaction when she had to take a shot of vodka, hiking up Pendle Hill and getting battered by the wind and all the laughs.
Since our team has grown, and we now all work from home with the odd few days in the studio it’s been great to get everyone together and do something that wasn’t just work. Get to know more about the team, and have a mental refresh"
"The cost to the business is very little compared to the benefits it has on the team/individual relationships. They feel appreciated, understood and small getaways like this improves performance at the end of the day.
Working from home has been great. Productivity has gone through the roof. We trust everyone. It seems to be working great at the minute, but we can't lose the culture we've worked so hard to create over the past 13+ years.
Getting everyone together every now and then is very important to keep building those relationships.
Ultimately, if people feel good - they perform better. And if they enjoy working here, they will reject job opportunities elsewhere if they arise. We are trying our best to build a great team that enjoys what they do within a stress free environment - and that can't be underestimated. Not every business look after their staff like we do, I'm very proud of what we're creating here."
It's a short list to be honest. There is just 1 item that I didn't cater carefully for, and that was WiFi signal.
Because the house ticked the box of Wifi, I thought great, no problem. But in reality, the WiFi was a bit rubbish, and that caused a bit of an issue when the whole team needed to use it for work.
In future, I'll be asking the home owner to provide speed tests before booking.
Other than that, you can't really go wrong to be honest. If you've got a good bunch of people working for you, and you tick all the boxes I mentioned earlier in the article - I'm sure you'll have a great time.