Out of Office

We did another retreat last month and it was great for many reasons.

Nineteen dxw’ers headed to Hurley, a small village just outside Maidenhead, via trains, planes and automobiles. We stayed at the beautiful Olde Bell Coaching Inn for a couple of nights in an attempt to get out of the office and discuss how to make dxw an even more awesome company for clients and staff alike.

This first session, after Harry’s wonderful attempt at a Google Hangouts (“Everyone mute!”) in the sun-soaked garden, was a timeline of the past year at dxw. We divided off into groups and began listing the highs and lows of the past 12 months. This became an exercise of post-it duplication and foggy-memoried 2015 things, but ultimately a definitive picture emerged. It was great to see how many more things were positive than negative.

We refuelled with an enormous lunch buffet (that fried halloumi though) and headed into an afternoon session which focused on dxw’s future. Where did we see dxw in the next 1 – 2 years? How big should we get in terms of staff numbers? What work do we want to be doing? How were we going to achieve these things?

After reigniting the fear and paranoia in the group by playing ‘Assassin’ yet again this year, we ensured that everyone stayed in packs and didn’t wander off on their own before sitting down at the gloriously laid out dinner table for our evening meal.

The night ended (a bit later for some than others!) on a high note with everyone keen to start the next day with a huge breakfast and some much deeper and more personal sessions on a slightly rainy Friday.

The first session was to discuss the possibility of moving to a four day week. ‘Hurrah!’, everyone seemed to say, ‘A three day weekend? That’s very European of us’. However, it was soon explained that a four day week involves concentrating our client work for 4 days and use Fridays to improve internal systems, write blog posts, learn new things and do some general housekeeping to keep everything moving fluidly. After discussing this with our clients, we hope to implement this in the near future.

Then there was CAKE.

The afternoon session titled ‘people, development, responsibilities and buddies’ sounded like it was going to be quite a tough one in terms of honesty and emotions, and getting out some of the potential frustrations or finding that ‘missing piece of the work satisfaction puzzle’.

We all faced a giant room with the following post-it topics to add our thoughts to:

Liked – Stuff we did that gave us the good feels.

Learned – Fun/useful things that stayed in our heads.

Lacked – Something you wanted but have not achieved/received.

Longed For – Things which could make life easier/better.

Comments & Questions – Misc. and anonymous commentary.

Actions & Next Steps – Stuff we will do to make good things happen and bad things not happen as much.

Thanks! – Self-explanatory; ‘thank someone you think is awesome’.

I personally found this session great because of the insight I got about the people I work with, how their brains work and what makes them happier. It wasn’t without its uncomfortable moments though; sometimes it’s hard to articulate something on a post-it note without it sounding (unintentionally) harsh or negative.

What we needed after such a session was a gigantic barbecue. More food than was really necessary was wheeled out to us and we tucked into another fantastic meal provided by the accommodating staff.

Day 3 was about fun. Naming something ‘the dxw challenge – Michael’s dastardly plans’ based in the YMCA in Henley, does conjure up some interesting mental images I’m sure I will never fully recover from.

What actually happened was much more deeply disturbing. No one should willingly listen to the same episode of ‘The Archers’ 5 times and still only get a score of 7/10 in a test about its complex characters and plot.

Rest-assured I now know how to ship some (very basic) PHP code, that covering your face in post-it notes can lead to claustrophobic tendencies, that I am pretty useless at charades and that no one in this office will ever be a Klingon character in Star Trek [“Ahem” -Ed.]

In conclusion, I do think dxw has a great future ahead, with some very diverse and wonderful people making it all happen.