Before our trip, I found myself in conversations with clients and friends, trying to articulate why we were bringing all our employees, their significant others, and their children to Costa Rica for a weeklong corporate retreat. Most were congratulatory at being able to provide such an experience; many requested jobs; a handful, I suspect, if even for a moment, thought this might be a junket.
The reality, however, is that the trip is an extension of who we are as a company. It’s a progression of our flexible hours, catered lunches, and ability to work abroad—perks that allow us to compete for talent in our industry and find employees who are more than just employees. We endeavor to provide an environment that elevates an individual from trusted colleague to friend.
Our recent growth—including 11 employees last year—as well as the departure of two long-time staffers necessitated a renewed focus on our team and where we're headed as an organization. In much the same way we encourage clients to meet at our office and step outside the day-to-day of their existence, we wanted to do the same.
We used this time to review development best practices and testing strategies. We intermingled teams exploring the depths of the Facebook API, cut our teeth on mobile platforms, exposed developers to new languages, and leveraged unfamiliar tools like mailgun and Refinery CMS, which will have immediate utility for our clients.
We spent time reviewing our project management system and marketing materials, which will dramatically change in the upcoming weeks and months. We staged fifteen technical, TED-esque lightning talks (which we’ll recap on the blog in the coming days). Even spouses who happened to be developers or business analysts at other companies participated in our sessions. We’re grateful they were able to share their outside experiences with us.
Of course, we had some fun outside the tiki hut office. Swimming, boating, surfing, hiking, and ziplining were all on the agenda, as was just lounging by the pool with a good book and a margarita.
Now as I watch the photos pour in, see new friends confirmed, and chuckle at the week's many inside jokes, not even a cancelled flight on what may go down as one of United's worst days makes me doubt the success of this trip.
I thank our clients who know us, who have supported our company throughout the years, and who’ve provided the opportunity and understand the importance of our culture here at Table XI.
PS. Visit our Facebook page for more photos from the week.