In the weeks and days leading up to the DevFacto 10-year anniversary corporate retreat, I wasn’t sure what to expect from travelling with a group of over 150 employees and spouses. As with most people, I am used to travelling with groups much smaller size. In fact, some of my best and most rewarding travels have been solo trips.
With this in mind, I decided to set two simple goals for myself on this trip: to deepen my relationships with as many co-workers as possible, and to see and do as much as I could.
Here are a few key considerations that helped me accomplish these goals:
Minimize cell phone use. This proved to be more difficult than with a traditional vacation, as I still needed to have access to email for work purposes. However, outside of a daily email check, any meetups with co-workers were scheduled in-person. This forced us to commit to a plan and eliminated the option to cancel last minute via text.
Go with the flow. Although we did plan some excursions ahead of time, the most memorable moments of the trip happened far more spontaneously. Often times a web search or hotel concierge wasn’t enough to reveal the region’s better features. From mounting an expedition to a secret beach to cliff jumping into a cenote, talking to locals or just exploring outside the resort can expose great things otherwise overlooked. The acquaintances with whom I shared these experiences quickly turned into friends.
View adversity as an opportunity, not a problem. Sometimes the best experiences come out of failed plans. I attribute some of my best moments of the trip to a missed boat, wrong turn, or simply a snap decision to take the path of least resistance. These situations often lead to the real adventures where lasting memories are made.
My time off-resort encouraged me to bond with co-workers on a different level. I thought I knew the people I was travelling with well, but every missed turn, bribe paid and seat-less toilet brought us all closer together.
While a trip of this magnitude is not possible for many companies, even just being outside the office with your co-workers can catalyze the creation of new relationships and the deepening of existing ones. DevFacto’s Mexico trip made me realize that the greater the adventure, the quicker (and deeper) bonds will form amongst those who share in it.
Rather than the standard routine of drinks after work, try organizing an evening at the rock climbing gym or a high ropes course. Pushing people to the edge of their comfort zones will ultimately help bring them closer together. The DevFacto Mexico retreat accomplished this in ways that will stay with me for the rest of my life.