Yesterday the Go Overseas team took a break from our day to day activities to spend some time discussing our core values and bond over lunch and a hike in SF. The goal was to actively improve our team dynamics as well as serve as a small reward for all the hard work we’ve been doing lately. Katie needs to be given full credit as the original proponent of the idea, but I think everyone immediately saw the inherit value in a day like this. I think there was a concern that we’ve become too absorbed in our own various projects that we were no longer working towards a shared team outcome. This can be a problem in small businesses and start-ups that don’t actively encourage communication at all levels.
We started the day by looking back at where Go Overseas has come in the last year, which in retrospect has been incredibly far. In August 2011 we were working out of the danky basement in the Bancroft Hotel and reeling from a pretty terrible summer internship program (that experience alone deserves it’s own blog post). We had also just signed our first client, VolunTrek, for a whopping $500. Woohoo! A year later we now have close to 50 clients and our recent crop of summer interns were amazing. Despite some recent challenges (damn you, Google), it was great to reflect on our progress and use that as inspirational fuel to continue our hard work.
We next ventured into SF for an awesome Chinese lunch at Shanghai Dumpling King (the shiz niz) and a hike at Lands End Lookout. From here on out we avoided talking shop and just focused on having a good time and improving our personal relationships. For example, it turns out Mitch is a huge Call Me Maybe fan (video proof will be coming soon). Overall, I am very happy with how the day turned out and I definitely believe this is something we’ll want to continue in the future.
This begs an interesting question: Why is it important for companies to have days like this devoted to team building? I’m sure there are analytical studies out there on this very topic, but to me it just seems obvious that a stronger and motivated team will naturally produce better results. The cost was a loss of productivity (case in point, our traffic was down from most previous Fridays), but like all things in business I believe we ‘bought’ ourselves a better team. Most of us will spend our entire adult lives in a working environment and as one of the founders of this company I believe I share a responsibility to make working at Go Overseas an enjoyable and rewarding experience.
Is team building an important element in your workplace? I’m curious to learn what other companies do to build better and stronger teams, or even hear completely different opinions on the topic.