We’ve reached a pretty happy and mature state as a team into having our first retreat! It was an interesting experience where we leveled up our game and goals as a company.
Keep reading to learn more on what we did!
The place: Mountainous Trikala Corinthias
Trikala Corinthias are build on the slope of Mount Kyllini spanning on altitudes of 850 to 1,100m.
We were looking for a place that we could do some work, as well as relax and cooldown. Considering the benefits of connecting with nature, we were sure that at this place there would be many opportunities for walks in nature and relaxation.
Agenda: Calibrate our focus & take action
This was our first company retreat. We have achieved some great stuff so far and wanted to celebrate our work. We also wanted to focus on the tough stuff, that are out of our comfort zone and require mental effort to achieve.
So the agenda included two items:
- Define our strategy for the coming years. Being creators, this goal is pushing us out of our comfort zone. We know how impactful such a strategy would be, yet lacked the mental resources to work on it while being remote. The company retreat setting would help us focus on tackling that.
- Hands-on improve the onboarding on Team O’clock. Being creators, we wanted to leverage the time together and collaborate on something creative. Having full days available provided the space to develop without sacrificing the difficult part of strategy.
To help us towards our goals we had done some prep-work on both items.
To kickstart our strategy discussions we had read the books Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey A. Moore and This is Marketing by Seth Godin. To further guide our discussion and keep us focused, we formatted the key points of both books into a presentation.
You can grab that presentation here, we will probably expand on the key points on a separate post in the future.
To help us with onboarding we had our analytics tools already in place. We decided to focus on the top steps of the funnel; entering Team O’clock website, signing up, and entering a Team O’clock meeting. This seems extreme, but we were working on our creators comfort zone! Provided our strategy exercise was successful, we could set up a plan to rebuild the decided onboarding steps.
Our work on defining the strategy for the coming years was very fruitful. There were some losses — in terms of features we choose to drop — and some big wins. With the exercise as our starting point we ended up on a clear vision for Team O’clock that is already reflected on our website, and will guide all our actions forward.
We envision Team O’clock in the heart of agile ceremonies for remote teams. People can connect Team O’clock with their company’s collaboration tools.
Deep diving into this exploration made us think about our core values. What is driving all the designs, features, emails, interactions we are having internally as a team and externally to the people using Team O’clock. We ended up with three values:
- Simplicity. We prefer doing exceptionally less, versus spreading too thin. We prioritize simple over complex, smooth interactions, and clean design. We get things done, one increment at a time.
- Focus. We continuously level up the core of our product. If something does not work, we drop it. We are not a feature factory. The success of our customers is in the center.
- Respect. We respect each other’s opinions, and value each other’s contribution. We are not afraid to make mistakes. Zero blame, especially when things go south. We are in this together, and reflect that respect to our customers.
In terms of onboarding work, you can checkout the results at Team O’clock! In the retreat days, we revamped our homepage, the Retrospective meeting page, and our About us page. Additionally, we completely changed the signup process!
It was fun working together, since we’re way too remote for way too much time! Team O’clock has started and still going while we are working remote, that’s why we’re the first testers of all our features. Still, being together and focused was awesome!
The few days of the event, we were treated with foggy mornings and nights, adding an eerie out-of-world feeling to the place. We had some long walks and talks where the setting helped our discussion.
One walk specifically had a wow effect! That was the walk on a mountain ridge, with clouds lower than us. The setting was majestic and it fed our thoughts on ways to “cross the chasm” that lies ahead with Team O’clock.
The above setting inspired our new About us page, and the header image in this post.
Apart from walking the beautiful setting, we had some good food and drinks, and the “must” junkfood night, à la Hackathon 😄.
Retreat 01 is over, now get back home!
Getting back home from a company retreat is always awesome & inspiring, in Greek we use the word “Πώρωση” (like zealotry minus the negative meaning). The Team O’clock retreat created a strong beacon — reference point — on the direction we are following that is still driving our work.
Since coming back, we revamped all the features on our website, and continue to work on onboarding. By following our values, we feel ok when we slow down, and we re-group and re-organize when we are ready.
Until next time,
Nikos & Mike out