Our annual company retreat happens at the beginning of each year. It’s a perfect time to think of the intentions we want to set in our personal and professional lives. This year’s retreat was once again at the quiet and unassuming Smoke Tree Ranch in Palm Springs, California. It’s a destination that now feels like home for Lullabot, with this year marking our fifth trip to the same place.
It used to be that we’d “maximize business value” by having all-day company meetings while at a retreat. It was exhausting, and the whole event felt like a work marathon. We didn’t leave feeling rejuvenated and inspired. While we’d accomplish a lot, we also tended to burn out and spend the following week catching our breath. So over the years, we’ve shifted the role the retreat plays for us. The goal in recent years (in this order) has been to:
- Relax. Making space for creative thought and problem-solving is essential. We need to recharge because our work is intellectually demanding. We also have clients, families, friends and even animal companions that depend on us to be our best when we return. It makes no sense to burn out from a retreat.
- Have fun. Forming new bonds and friendships with each other. Building up our emotional reserves, celebrating the year and lifting each other up. We’re only together for 5 out of 365 days in a year, so let’s make them count.
- Work on Lullabot. Using the time to collaborate openly on how we work and looking for ways we can improve what we do for our clients and the world.
I’ll admit. It’s still easy to forget to take recharge and self-care time when we don’t get to see each other very often. But we’re doing a better job of building it into the schedule and having the program be a reflection of these goals. As one of our team members put it:
I continue to be impressed by how much closer I feel to my co-workers than I ever did working for a co-located company. Our remoteness has the effect of making us feel comfortable (we're in our own homes and offices) enough to be ourselves and thus are inclined to be vulnerable, speak our mind, tell a joke, share what we love with others. The team retreat, then, is our one week a year to be the way this company has inspired us to be in person. It stands as a testament to the efficacy of our core values, our communication tools, our transparency, that we can effortlessly have fun and feel relaxed with people we rarely see. The importance of this, of feeling human in the workplace, cannot be understated.