Where in the World is Spectacle? How We Stay Inspired and Connected in a Hybrid Work World
by CEO + Founder, Michael Filippi

Today, we all exist in the in-between: are things back to “normal”? Will things return to how they once were? Likely not. Studies show that while the hybrid working model is overall a positive change for most, company culture often takes a hit.  In the absence of water cooler talk, work has become more about work, and we’ve lost a bit of the special sauce of in-person connection, collaboration, and spontaneity.

Over the last two years, one of the biggest sources of friction for me was how to keep the magic alive with our small team displaced. Frankly, I didn’t set out to start a remote or hybrid company (for a number of reasons). But that’s where true growth begins: right on the heels of discomfort and change… because adaptation is essential. We took this opportunity to take a hard look at colocation and figure out when it matters most and for what purpose. 

Here’s a little of what we figured out: 

  1. Our work is a team sport. Collaboration is key and no matter what toolset you’re using, there’s no substitute for being in person with a whiteboard. 
  2. Learning and development require a social component. Sometimes the most valuable learning happens “in the margins” when we tackle a problem or debrief a meeting live together, stepping away from “doing” to learn together. 
  3. Culture has to be nurtured closely. Our team values the opportunity to spend time together and form tighter connections that ultimately boost productivity. 

So beginning in December, we committed to investing in a quarterly offsite retreat that focused on the big picture and how our team can get there. We use these gatherings as a time for our entire team to reconnect, be inspired by a change of scenery and one another, and get deep strategic work done together. 

Here’s why we make it a priority:

Our employees are our most important assets bar none. We live by a growth mindset and we have to make the time to invest in our personal and collective growth. Every day I’m proud of the team we’ve assembled and inspired by how each of us makes the rest of the team better. We trust each other and stay accountable to deliver the work no matter where in the world we are..

Enjoying the Ride” is a core value. Our mantra this year is “Grow With Intention.”

As a small team always looking to punch above our weight, everyone is putting in the work. We’ve put some deep thinking into our approach to office culture, remote work, and how to build an effective, inclusive, dynamic, and let’s face it, fun culture. We spend a lot of time with one another and we love what we do — so we stay committed to enjoying the ride. 

Here’s why we make it an offsite:

If you want fresh thinking, you have to start with fresh inputs. 

Inspiration can be found everywhere, once you start looking. We find that a change of scenery is critical to keeping the inspiration tank topped off and limiting typical distractions. That’s why we encourage our clients to do workshops in a new place, not their office. It gives us an opportunity to step out of our collective comfort zone, embrace a new environment, and learn something new along the way.

Creativity can come from unexpected places, so we make time for extracurricular activities and actually getting out and exploring the cities that we visit in addition to our brainstorming and meeting time.

This past quarter, for instance, we headed to New Orleans, a city rich with culture. As our “cultural immersion”, we headed to the Ogden Museum of Southern Art (more on that here!). And of course, when in New Orleans, we took a stroll down historic Bourbon Street, soaked in live jazz, and ate our fair share of gumbo and po'boys. 

Here’s how we do it, and how you can, too:

1. Set aside 2-3 full days. Accommodating the time it takes for people to travel, you’ll want to make sure there is at least one full day to really dig in and be together.

2. Take care of business first. We of course have a jam-packed agenda of company updates to get through, from reviewing quarterly progress toward our company-set goals, a preview of the quarter ahead, and critical discussion time over internal initiatives and client work.

3. Prioritize creative thinking time. We all know that remote work is a critical component of the future of the workplace, but there are some things that are just so much better and more productive in person. Build in time for those projects or initiatives that would benefit from purposeful collaboration and person-to-person brainstorming time.

4. Take in the sights.  Weaving in a cultural immersion or exploring the city is a welcome source of change and inspiration. Now that it’s back, we try to make live music a part of every trip. 

5. Don’t overdo it. It can be tough to not pack the agenda for productivity’s sake, but too much structure and you miss the opportunity for connection. Give your team time to have spontaneous conversations and be their whole selves. 

Has your team adopted any new practices in the new hybrid world that you’re excited about? We’d love to hear about it… so drop us a line. 

And, shameless plug alert: we also offer executive offsite workshops as a service offering, so we would love to talk if this inspired you to take your team out of the office for your next big meeting.