It’s spring time, and that means many things – March Madness, bad allergies, baseball, spring break, and for the Fluid IT team, spring means; it’s time for our annual company retreat! About ten years ago, the entire Fluid crew started traveling an hour and a half east of Dallas for the spring retreat weekend, and it has now become a welcomed tradition. It’s an opportunity for the team to spend time away from the daily grind at the office to recharge our batteries, bond, discuss our relevance as a company, and, most importantly, have fun!
What began as a one-day event, years ago, has become a 3-day celebration that everyone in the office excitedly anticipates. On Friday, as everyone, (including their dogs), spills out of their cars, the excitement and buzz increases as the team comes together once again. You can simultaneously feel tensions release and happiness fill the air as we gather around the fire. It’s amazing to watch people, who work together more than they are apart, change as drastically as the landscape between the Dallas concrete cityscape and the rolling piney woods of east Texas. The work mentality melts away and the fun begins.
We often hear how important a company culture is to performance, retaining employees, learning, having fun, etc. Without our annual retreat, we would be eliminating an important aspect of our culture, which allows us to hang up our “work hats” and connect on a more personal level.
During the day, some like to spend their time hiking, fishing or just enjoying the beautiful outdoors, while others like to play games, read, or watch movies. But, the most anticipated and inspiring aspect of the retreat is the nightly gatherings around the firepit. While smores and a favorite beverage are always a hit, it’s the ‘real’ discussions, that happen organically throughout the night, that allow us to connect on a deeper level. With music playing in the background, topics ebb and flow effortlessly from work to favorite movies, politics, religion, home life, personal stories, future goals, family, etc. – peppered in with jokes and lots of laughter of course. It’s a safe environment where everyone can just be and be present.
The food is almost an event within the event. The second night of the retreat, we all cook and eat an enormous, southern feast. There’s something about cooking for, and with, the team that develops comradery and proves that teamwork is alive and well beyond the workplace…especially when it’s Texas bar-b-que. A belly full of ribs accompanied by a second night of good conversation and laughter around the firepit, is a great way to spend the last evening.
The 2019 retreat brought a few surprises with major thunderstorms and a power outage on Saturday (not so rare for Spring in Texas). Fortunately, the sky cleared just in time for everyone to enjoy another chilly night around the firepit, topped off with some smores and impromptu poor dance moves. Sunday turned out to be a gorgeous, sunny day. While driving away, with azalea’s and wood duck’s in my rear view mirror, I was reminded just how special the “it” we have is.
The tangible and intangible benefits of our retreat should not be underestimated. Teamwork and company culture are paramount for the success of any company – especially an IT company. Since we are tasked with solving complex technology problems for clients, the Fluid IT team must often collaborate and share ideas to come up with the best solutions. Without the respect, support and good chemistry that our team has for one another, we would not be able to effectively help our clients. Also, when employees feel valued and supported by management and co-workers, the overall company performance strengthens immensely. Work can be challenging and stressful at times, so the retreat allows me to show appreciation for the people that make this company so great, while also further enhancing our estimable culture!