Benefits of Yearly Tropical Work Retreats
In the modern tech world, digital nomadism is a growing, potentially invaluable opportunity. Originally reserved for freelancers, the ability to work while traveling abroad can be applied to an entire company. At Poki, we enjoy the benefits of tropical work retreats every year. Here’s why we do it, and how you can, too:
Extended company retreats allow us to reflect upon previous accomplishments and realign our team’s vision. The distance is a great way to fully appreciate and realize the big picture. It is our version of Stefan Sagmeister’s sabbatical. Watch his very inspiring TED Talk to know more about how taking time off can allow you to re-ignite your inner creative spirit in our modern times.
With everybody on the same wavelength, away from home and in a beautiful environment, developing new strategies is a natural process. Instead of the day-to-day grind, our first trip allowed us to rethink our product road map, plan a refactor, and redesign our web portal. From that process, we reaped great benefits during the rest of the year, as project traffic and revenue boomed.
When Poki went to Thailand, 2 out of 10 attendees were developers still in their trial period. We weren’t sure what would happen when mixing people that didn’t really know each other. In the end, the experience was very beneficial. Everyone who joined was fully committed to making the trip work professionally. Afterwards, one of the developers was eager to join our company full-time. He’s still with us today and will be joining for the third trip in 2016.
Bringing new people is a great way to build trust in your team and grow the company culture. In-depth discussions and knowledge-sharing during a retreat allow the business to grow along with its employees.
While the working day is structured and organized, we empower our team to be as relaxed, creative, and productive as possible. In-house breakfasts and lunches result in uninterrupted work days. In Southeast Asia, it’s inexpensive to arrange a private chef and an afternoon massage. And, most villas will provide staff that can take care of shopping and housekeeping. When living and working in the same house for weeks, those decadent-sounding perks are great for team spirit and make a memorable difference. At night, going out for dinner is a great excuse to explore the surrounding areas.
Take your time – On our trips, we leave for three weeks of work. The longer you stay, the more exotic your destination can be without experiencing too much jet lag. Also, your team will have more time to acclimatize to their new situation. Thus, the more comfortable they’ll be in one another’s presence.
Get into the groove – We noticed that something changes for the better once you really start having the same rhythm of life. The usual commute, distractions, and social obligations disappear, and they get replaced by a shared way of spending your day. Being away from home definitely comes with a certain decrease of friction.
Rent comfortably – If the cost of living in your destination is relatively low (and in Asia it is), benefit from that and treat your team with a great place to stay. In Thailand, my co-founder and I managed to get a great, last-minute deal on an incredible villa with three hot tubs, an infinity pool, sauna, and cinema. In Bali, we lived on a beautiful estate with a large garden, fully equipped pool house, and dozens of palm trees. If you’re going to live and work in the same house for weeks, try to do so with plenty of space and comfort.
One of the best things about being on a tropical island with your co-workers is that you get to enjoy time off in a beautiful and exotic place. The local culture, food and natural wonders provide one-of-a-kind experiences. We’ve gone snorkeling and scuba diving with turtles in Thailand. In Bali, our daily morning routine included an hour of surfing. Aside from the fun (and healthy doses of work), tropical work retreats allow teams to connect in ways that simply aren’t possible at home.
You can read more about Poki’s company retreat here. At Poki, we have turned these successful trips into a yearly tradition and it one of the reasons of our modest success so far. You can do it too !