This past May, we closed the office for a few days, packed our bags, and set off on a five-day trip to Lisbon, Portugal. All the planning and costs were handled by the company, allowing our team to simply relax and enjoy.
Some thought we were crazy to splash out on such a major expense (20 people living large in a European city ain’t cheap), but it was totally worth it. Sharing an experience like this with your coworkers cements the bond that allows you to do your best work when back at the office — which is especially important when your work is as collaborative as it is here at Osedea.
“It was fun to get to know people outside of work. Instead of being around each other as coworkers, we were friends. The literal uphill battles of Portugal have strengthened our bond.” — Brian, developer at Osedea
This wasn’t our first rodeo when it comes to company travel. A couple of years ago, we took our team on an all-inclusive trip to Jamaica. We’d been trying to come up with a cool benefit that we could offer to our team to encourage them to travel (because we believe taking time off to see the world is key to staying motivated at work). But as it turns out, our Jamaica trip investment had an unprecedented positive effect on team building. Our team members got really close during their time together in Jamaica, and we suspect this has something to do with the remarkably low employee turnover rate that we have today.
In any case, given that a lot of new faces have joined Osedea since we went on that trip to Jamaica, we decided to repeat the experience in 2018, Eurotrip style!
Our trip to Portugal was more than just an amazing adventure. Here’s why we think any organization can benefit from doing something like this.
The first benefit is the sense of camaraderie it fosters. Because we spend most of our days at the office, we need to get along with the people we work with. One study quoted by Fast Company states that “focusing on self-disclosure and non work-related topics can forge a closeness that makes coworkers more collaborative, productive, and accountable.” This is the main reason why we’ve chosen to invest in this initiative: to create an opportunity for our team to establish bonds of friendship that will enrich their personal and professional lives and allow them to build a sense of belonging to the group of people they work with. This goal is in line with our desire to make Osedea a kickass place to work with a focus on embracing diversity.
Below are a few comments from the team regarding their experience of bonding with their coworkers in Lisbon:
“It was a great way to connect in different ways and get to know other sides of the personalities of my teammates.”
“I know a lot more about everyone now. I really see some people in a new light.”
“I think the trip was a great opportunity to get to know people. We have a natural desire to stick with people we already know, but this allowed us to branch off a bit more.”
“It’s allowed me to hang out with teammates who I didn’t have a chance to get to know as well as others, while doing fun things.”
“I found the trip was effective at promoting bonding between team members that hadn’t had the chance to bond at the office.”
The second benefit is the personal impact that travelling has on your life. As a frequent traveller, I know the value of getting a change of scenery, and discovering something new that wouldn’t be accessible to me on my home turf. There’s no local activity you could take part in or experience you could have that has the same “je ne sais quoi” as a great trip — which is another reason why these trips are worth it for our team. We give them a chance to explore, try something new, and come back home with a new energy and a treasure trove of memories. And all this without having to plan or pay for any of it!
The third benefit is that trips like these are FUN! We get to loosen up, disconnect from the day-to-day, and laugh together. We still talk about things that happened on our team trip to Jamaica two years ago, and the same thing is already starting to happen now that we’re back from Portugal.
Planning a trip like this for a group of 20 people is no easy task. From booking flights and lodging (we stayed in rental apartments in the historic Ascensor da Bica area), to activities and meal options, it takes lots of time and resources to make it all happen.
We were debating between a few different destinations, but ended up choosing Lisbon due to its relative proximity to Montreal (only a six-hour flight, with the option to fly direct) and the cool vibe the city is known for. We were also attracted to the fact that the city is a good size, with plenty of points of interest that are easily accessible by public transit.
Because we were a big group, we needed to book everything in advance — including restaurants and excursions. We organized it all for the team, so all they had to do was pack their bags and a thirst for adventure.
We took the red-eye flight to Lisbon, so when we arrived, we let everyone explore or rest based on their preference and energy level. Some people headed out to take in the sights on foot, some went to sample the local food, and others took a nap. The main activity wasn’t until the evening: we had a team dinner at Café Buenos Aires, an authentic Argentinean Bistro.
This was our workshop day. Our office for the day was a double-decker bus that’s been turned into a meeting space, parked by the April 25th bridge at Village Underground Lisboa. The team loved the venue’s unique feel, which provided the perfect space for us to dive into a mix of training and workshops on various internal projects we have on the go. We finished our day with dinner at Noobai, a restaurant with a panoramic view of the city.
This was our “explore the city” day. We started off with a guided tour of Lisbon, led by an amazing guide who taught us about the history of the city and took us to try some local ginjinha (a Portuguese liqueur).
Next, we had the chance to view the city from the water via a Regatta boat competition, with the team facing off in three different boats. We called it a night after another team dinner — this time at the Beer Museum.
This was an “anything goes” day that gave our team members the opportunity to pick whatever activity most interested them. Most people went to Sintra, a lovely town outside of Lisbon that’s peppered with beautiful castles and palaces. We split into groups of three or four so that we could get around more easily. Meanwhile, other team members chose to test their physical limits by taking a surfing class. Both groups had nothing but positive things to say about what they got up to, and felt the chance to be in small groups enhanced the bonding experience. Our final dinner was at Chafariz do Vinho, a wine cellar, where we were served a delicious smorgasbord of Portuguese food, with tasty wine pairings.
It was time to pack our bags and fly home to Montreal — a bit tired physically, but high on happy memories and plenty of inside jokes.
No matter how big or small your company may be, we can’t say enough about the benefits of taking your team on a trip like ours. It’s the best technique we know of for boosting team spirit and employee satisfaction to epic new levels, which is pretty much priceless.
But don’t take my word for it. Check out what one of our team members had to say about the Lisbon trip and the impact it had on him:
“It was an amazing experience and a huge generosity on the part of the company financially, as well as on a personal level, for those who planned and kept everything organized and running smoothly! Benefits like this surely make me want to work my butt off for Osedea!” — Robin, developer
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Intrigued by the prospect of doing something like this with your team? Reach out to us if you have questions, or if you want to find out more about how we handled planning such a large-scale trip.