Our first company offsite
In June, the FF&M team regrouped at Bridwell Park, Devon, for our first company offsite. In this new world in which we find ourselves working, and as the MD of FF&M, I feel a responsibility to build a company culture that supports all team members as fully as possible.
As we are remote-first, I know it is crucial to regularly bring all team members together and felt - as we hit the two year mark - that it was the right time to invest budget and resources into this. Not only does this help the team form closer relationships but it also allows us to share ideas and ways of working that we would not normally have the opportunity to discuss on a video call.
I’m an avid fan of Adam Grant, the occupational psychologist famed for the NYT articles on languishing and went down a rabbit hole with his WorkLife podcast in a bid to learn as much as possible about creating the right culture and an environment to help the team all do work that they enjoy and find rewarding. I highly recommend Adam’s new TED talk: How to stop languishing and start finding flow.
Back to Bridwell. Spending time outside and away from our laptops was really beneficial. Learning from podcast guest Quintin Clover that being at your laptop does not always mean you’re being productive encouraged me to plan a two-day trip that afforded us some proper time out as well as in nature.
Day one saw us walking nine miles through the Devon countryside learning a little more about how to map-read as a team and enjoying the chance to just talk. A packed lunch, a pit stop, many biscuits and a few fields full of cows later saw us return to the comforts of Bridwell Park, itself surrounded by a deer park. A home-cooked meal and game of Articulate set the tone for the rest of the trip. Just don’t ask who won.
We found that being outside encouraged the team to suggest new ideas and kickstarted creative thinking, as well as providing a comfortable environment in which to share candid feedback. Although many people experience ‘laptop guilt’ from not being constantly at their desks, the FF&M team are given the freedom to break up their working day with a walk to refresh themselves and perhaps think more creatively.
Gathering your team together for an offsite day is also the perfect opportunity to deliver in-person coaching. On the second day, our proofreader presented a grammar masterclass: given we are a communications firm, it is vital for us to keep developing our copywriting skills as well as honing our own tone of voice and writing style.
This was followed by a thought-provoking session from Hamish Mackay-Lewis who helped us explore our personal values and manage our inner critics. Sharing these thoughts as a team is really useful for mutual understanding and for how best to support other team members in their individual working styles.
We wrapped the day with a brainstorming session on what we want to achieve as a company, who we want to work with and what drives each of us when it comes to job satisfaction. Not even the national rail strike could dampen our day and as we all made our way home, I certainly felt far more connected to the people I work with as well as holding a new level of respect for them too.