At the end of March this year, we packed our bags, left our laptops at home (except for Zsolt who was insistent on working on PingPong) and boarded flights from two different continents to meet up in Mirissa, Sri Lanka for our sixth and most chilled out team trip. I think I echo the rest of the team when I say it’s been our favourite week together so far.
So, what did we do differently?
Instead of planning out an agenda with lots of work-related activities, post-it filled afternoons and intense discussions like we did in previous team trips, we decided to focus on self-growth. To guide us we hired Robert, a close friend and founder of Go Local Surf, to join us for a week and give us a crash course on yoga and surfing.
Over the course of one week, ‘Hanno Bootcamp’ (as I referred to it every time my dreaded alarm buzzed at 6am) and coach Robert pushed some of us to our limits and helped us realise we could do improbable things like headstands.
Yoga. Surf. Chill. Repeat.
Mornings were kicked off bright and early (too early for the night owls like me) with a yoga session by the beach among exotic flowers and friendly beach dogs who sometimes joined us for a downward facing dog pose.
Despite not being a morning person (just in case you hadn’t figured that out yet) and struggling to pull myself out of bed (did I mention we’d start at 6.30am?), I walked away from each session feeling awakened and invigorated. I don’t drink coffee but I’m pretty sure that no amount of caffeine could even come close to matching that feeling.
After yoga, we’d grab a light snack before going surfing at a nearby bay.
The area was great for everyone, from beginners to the intermediates who had clocked in more board time than others. What made this surf spot truly special was the number of sea turtles hanging out in the bay. Every now and then, we’d see a little green head popping up through the waves—that alone was an amazing sight to witness.
Even though surfing was new and slightly intimidating for some (ok, me), everyone on the team, except a few non-swimmers, pushed themselves to try it.
Once we were all surfed out, we’d break off to do our own thing for the rest of the afternoon. On some days, we’d have casual team discussions based on topics people wanted to talk about and on others, we’d lounge by the pool or have one-on-one chats with each other.
It was important that we all ended this team trip feeling refreshed, rested and closer. So we tried to keep our time together as flexible as possible. Besides the daily yoga and surf sessions and a couple of scheduled meals, everyone was free to spend the day on their own terms whether it was by themselves or with other shipmates.
We’d gather again in the evenings for a sunset yoga session in the garden. It was a wonderful way to wind down by stretching out and reflecting on the thoughts and conversations we’d experienced each day.
Then we’d jump into the pool for a final round of relaxing before heading to dinner. We were then off to bed for some much-needed sleep, before waking up to do it all over again.
The highs of Sri Lanka
While it was still very intense with the amount of daily physical activity involved, our trip this time around felt more organised even though it was less structured.
It was great to have a much earlier start to the day, kick it off with some exercise and have the rest of the afternoon free to hang out with each other or just relax.
Robert was a fantastic coach and taught us so much in a span of a week. He gave some of us the push we really needed to realise our potential with something as simple keeping our balance during a yoga pose or while trying to stand on our surfboards. It was refreshing to focus on our personal skills rather than working all day to improve the UX of our website.
We also had some fascinating chats like hearing everyone’s personal plans and goals for the next year and how they plan to fit their role at Hanno around it. It’s always exceptional to hear people open up about their personal lives and share their current struggles and wins, as well as some very cool ambitions that we wouldn’t have known about otherwise.
Although our focus wasn’t on work topics, we also tackled some important issues towards the end of the trip. Again, we revisited our vision for the future of the company (stay tuned for a blogpost from Jon soon) and did some planning around how to approach projects and pitches that were in the pipeline.
If there’s one thing I loved about this team trip, it was the fact that—not only had I never felt in such good shape before—but we also got to spend more quality time together. Since we had a lot of free time, bonding didn’t revolve around work discussions but by sharing personal insights and stories.
We wrapped up the trip by celebrating a very special occasion—cue wedding bells!
Ok, there weren’t actually any bells since it was by a beach but we had a magical evening partying at Jon & Pam’s wedding in Sri Lanka.
Can you guess who married them? If your money is on a fellow shipmate—ding ding ding! Matt put on his best shirt and most colourful shorts to be the celebrant for the wedding (and an amazing one he was).
It was the perfect way to conclude the team trip and I can definitely say we all left Sri Lanka feeling more like family than ever.
p.s. Check out our Playbook for more tips and information on organising remote team retreats!