How a Break from Work Helped Us Build an Amazing Team

SEO Hacker Team Outing

For many years we’ve been crafting content that will enhance our audience’s knowledge with SEO and all sorts of online marketing.  I must admit that we seldom write about our company – its culture and the people behind it, making others think that all we do is work, work, and work.

But like any other company, we take time to relax, to refresh our minds, to bond and strengthen our team’s chemistry.

Just last week, I was very privileged to join the rest of the team in our three-day company outing.

The preparation wasn’t easy. We had to look for the most convenient accommodation, an available mode of transportation, and to be able to shop for the things we’ll need. I must say it’s a bit tiring. But was it worth all the efforts?

Yes, definitely.

So, allow me to share with you our great experience, what we did to build the camaraderie, and how it helped us as a team.

1. We talk about personal stuff.

We call it “real talk”. There were nights where we would all sit down, and talk about personal stuff. I remember when one of our teammates shared how he was bullied when he was young, and how it made him lose too much of his confidence.

I know that it may seem too personal and uncomfortable to talk about – probably takes too much courage to open up, but the good thing about this kind of talk is that we make each other feel comfortable, and less afraid to trust.

Building a Strong Team

How it helped our team:

It develops a better relationship. It develops trust – contagious trust. I say it’s contagious because I noticed that when one person opens up, the other one will automatically share their own personal experience as well. Suddenly, everyone has something to share, making everybody feel a lot more comfortable with each other.

The best bit of it is that the effect is very evident to our work. We became more productive and happy, we tend to finish our tasks on time, and with joy in our hearts. I’ll be very honest here, and tell you that I don’t know the psychological explanations to how this kind of activity improves productivity, all I’m sure of is that it’s easier and more fun to work in an environment with trust and honesty.

2. We do fun stuff together.

There’s a thing called “burnout,” and it’s existing even in the most creative and well compensated companies. The sad thing is that people tend to run away when they feel tired.

In Ben Fanning’s book, “The Quit Alternative: The Blueprint for Creating the Job You Love Without Quitting“, he explained how he used to be frustrated and burnt out with his job, but instead of running away, he turned all these frustrations into inspirations – aiming to help people create the job they love without quitting.

We don’t want the team to feel exhausted and burnt out, moreover, we don’t want them to leave, that’s why we choose to relax and disconnect with our computers once in a while, and do this…

SEO Hacker Banana Boat SEO Hacker Water Adventure

How it helped our team:

According to studies, people that work more than 10 hours per day have a 60 percent higher chance of getting a heart attack. When overworked, you’re also overtired, and believe it or not, the employee who works 8 hours a day, and gets a good 8 hours of sleep is actually more productive than the one who works for 12 hours and only gets 5 hours of sleep.

We’re sometimes guilty of this, and I admit that even if I’m aware that it’s not healthy, I still do it. So, having this kind of activity refreshed our minds in tremendous ways.

Being disconnected with our daily lives helped us stop worrying, loosen up, and just enjoy the moment. And when we came back, it feels like everything is new, and we’re thrilled and excited to do our tasks again.

3. We show enough transparency.

Our last night was spent sharing the things we love about a certain team member, as well as the aspects that need improvements. This reminds me of the Johari Window model.

The Johari Window

The four Johari Window perspectives are called ‘regions’ or ‘areas’ or ‘quadrants’. Each of these regions contains and represents the information – feelings, motivation, etc – known about the person, in terms of whether the information is known or unknown by the person, and whether the information is known or unknown by others in the group. (Source: businessballs.com)

There are things that we know about ourselves, there are things that we know about ourselves but we tend to deny it, and there are also characteristics that we don’t think we have but others believe we have. The purpose isn’t just to speak, and make others feel that you know them so well, it’s more of encouraging each and everyone, to reveal potentials, and show what else they can contribute to the team.

Team's Transparency

How it helped our team:

I’m amazed at how our points of improvement were retained in our heads. In fact, after that night, all I could think of is how I’ll manage to deal with all the suggestions.

Everyday since that night, I always sleep really early, and avoid working overtime. Other teammates stopped making decisions when they’re feeling too emotional. The other one started working on his posture after being told that he’s lacking in confidence and that it shows in his countenance.

I can’t enumerate all the improvements I’ve noticed in just a short span of time, but I’m telling you, they’re all good.

4. We don’t talk about work.

We don’t talk about work during the outing – not a single moment.

In a survey conducted by employment website Glassdoor, 61% admitted working while on a vacation. 24% reported being contacted by a colleague about a work-related matter, and 20% have been contacted by their boss.

33% of those who admitted working while on a vacation said that they’re doing it because no one else in their company can do the work, others are afraid to get behind, some desire for a promotion, while others are afraid of losing their job.

But no matter what the reason is, one thing is for sure, we all deserve a break. We all deserve rest. And real rest doesn’t include worrying about what you’ve left in your workplace. Truth is, the more you think about your work when you’re supposed to be enjoying vacation even exhausts your brain.

Off time for SEO Hacker

How it helped our team:

The will to work is commendable, but skipping the time where you could just stop your brain from thinking about your tasks is actually making you less productive.

Since we never bothered mentioning anything about work for three days, it’s not hard to talk about it when we arrived back in Manila. In fact, it gave us the energy to live another week.

Conclusion

Just yesterday I was reading Buffer’s post about their latest trip in Australia. They’re one of the many companies that I look up to. And I’m always amazed by their greatness. They’re great not only because they work with so much passion, but also because they take time off, they value relationships, and they make sure that being a remote team wouldn’t harm their performance and camaraderie.

I’m glad that we value the same thing in SEO Hacker.

I hope you take time to relax and do fun stuff with your team too, and just like us, I hope it’ll help you strengthen the relationship you’ve built for so long even more.

Over to you!

Share with us some fun experiences you have with your team. What have you done with your summer outing? Perhaps you’re only planning to have one, share us your plans and your expectations after the trip!

SEO Hacker,

About Sean

is a Filipino motivational speaker and a Leadership Speaker in the Philippines. He is the head honcho and editor-in-chief of SEO Hacker. He does SEO Services for companies in the Philippines and Abroad. Connect with him at Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. Check out his new project, Aquascape Philippines.