1 min Read
December 14, 2011

Ducks in the Woods

I’ve got a seemingly never-ending list of topics I wish I had the time to discuss with my co-workers. I’d love to hear what they think about recent changes we’ve made in certain departments, what processes or systems could use updating, what would make their teams function better, and so on. There are people I’m fortunate to work with at Big Duck who’s brains I’d like to pick on a wide array of professional and personal topics- everything from farming to software to how we work together.  But day-to-day office life doesn’t always leave much room for conversations that aren’t specifically about moving today’s priority projects forward. That’s what retreats are for.

So, armed with few digital devices (a sort of ‘trust fall’ for most of us), down coats, and deep thoughts, the staff of Big Duck left Brooklyn Sunday night for our first-ever overnight retreat. Our two days at the Isabella Freedman Center in Connecticut were terrific: great food, warm fires, cozy rooms, and productive time spent discussing things we often don’t make enough time for.

Seeing each other in a new context is good stuff, and I think my fellow Ducks would agree that our conversations were an investment in the health of our collective relationship.

Why have an offsite retreat for more than a day? Because immersion in a new context helps people face new situations on equal footing, so the usual types of hierarchy get upset, and great things happen. Maybe the most junior person becomes the leader of a hike or the person who can be reliably content to prepare a great fire. It’s inspiring and refreshing to see each other in new ways- and opens doors to ways we might work together differently. It’s also valuable to be in a place where you can build in walks, breaks, and time spent in daylight-filled rooms with views, not just the back room of a hotel or a restaurant. Most of all, making time for those conversations that are at the heart of your office culture can be an invaluable way to boost commitment, productivity and passion for the work itself.

By the end of our 48 hours together, we’d resolved lingering questions, aired hidden frustrations, and collectively envisioned some pretty exciting stuff. Go pack your bags.