The Zen of the 2023 wetransform Offsite
Some years ago, wetransform promoted the Zen of INSPIRE.
At last year’s offsite, we learned that it was the zen of the Saiger Lounge’s resident doggy queen Mellie that we truly needed to embrace.
Having enjoyed our previous offsite in Saig, the team reconvened in the same spot this year, with many lessons learned and implemented. Human connection is a valuable asset and one that a chiefly remote company like ours needs to focus on more than most workplaces.
One of the many lessons learned was that we should really focus on getting to know each other outside of the scenic seminar room. This year, our schedule was less crammed with meetings, and we added an extra day to just have fun together.
Of course, there was also work to be done.
Strategy meetings at wetransform involve everyone at the company and had been divvied up into eleven blocks, spread over the initial three days of our four day stay:
I. Open Feedback Session
II. Reviewing 2022 and Planning for 2023
III. Discussing Meeting Culture
IV. Conflict Management and Prevention Strategies
V. Collaboration and Feedback Culture
VI. Organisational Improvements
VII. External Culture and Client Management
VIII. Brain Trust – Team Product
IX. Brain Trust – Team Service
X. Brain Trust – Team Revenue
XI. Data Spaces & Spatial Planning Initiatives
More People, More Options, More Opinions
This is good, heaven knows we’re busy enough to appreciate the help, but it also means that there is more and more balancing to be done. Fairness is one of our core values and while (like at any company that is actually trying to get things done) the democratic process isn’t fully implemented in all aspects of business; everyone will usually get to at least say their piece.
Sometimes those pieces can contradict each other.
During meetings, minutes are taken by a single person (usually different and often someone specifically chosen for that meeting) so as many as possible can contribute to the overall discussion.
We collect TO DOs and afterwards… we follow up.
Building the Remote Culture
wetransform has always worked remotely, even before the pandemic. We’re well-versed in the challenges that come along with a work-from-home culture. However, in the ever-changing fabric of business environments, such a culture can be quite dynamic.
Over the past year, we have hired more people, won new contracts, and decided to play our hand at different markets. Such an environment of change goes hand-in-hand with a constantly evolving culture. It is important for us to stay on top of things and ensure that what we are doing continues to make sense.
To better understand how things were evolving, we had sessions on the softer side of things – conflicts, feedback, and meeting culture. All three of these sessions were characterized by transparency, and built on data collected from team surveys.
As mentioned before, we found many team members had diverging opinions on these topics – not unexpected, given the diversity in our team. A teammate previously accustomed to a strict hierarchy-based work culture may be uncomfortable giving direct negative feedback to the flat-hierarchy preferring team lead. A teammate from one team may shy away from directly creating or addressing conflict with a member from a different team. Such issues, while completely normal, can often go amiss in the typical remote-work setting.
Through structured-yet-open discussion, supported by a little bit of homework prepared in advance, each team member had the opportunity to showcase their own insights in a fairly comfortable fashion. Ultimately, these sessions help us to understand each other and our different working styles better, and base our working strategies on consensus wherever possible.
Fun in the Snow
Committed as wetransform is to see graph lines go up in terms of company success, we are a little more flexible in the directionality of our fun. Sometimes, it’s okay to go downhill!
As with so many things, the ever-fearless CEO Thorsten led the way.
And where one throws himself down a moderate incline, more will follow.
For those less inclined towards such derring-do (though I do believe everyone took at least one plunge), there was plenty of opportunity to enjoy the majestic Schwarzwald during walks.
Or to stay inside the warmth of the Lounge for a good game of foosball.
We took a lot of what we had learned in the previous year and applied it to great effect; something we try to do in all things.
There were productive strategic meetings.
We revisited the topic of Data Spaces, one year wiser. After many calls with different stakeholders, each with different levels of knowledge about Data Spaces and different priorities, we edged closer to a full understanding of the needs of both data providers and -users. The topic still remains in the realm of a growing technology, and we focused our efforts accordingly.
INSPIRE, as usual, remained an important topic. We spoke about key learnings from the year, and discussed at length cases in which clients shifted from different open-source/custom/proprietary solutions to hale»connect to improve efficiency. To support this group better, we even offer a free trial.
We also went beyond INSPIRE. After engineering solutions for different stakeholders implementing the European Noise Directive this past year, we identified the implementation of such directives as a space that was getting more and more important for our client base. We spoke of opportunities in similar domains, with the aim of providing our clients with comprehensive support around their data standardization operations.
And then there was a lot of fun and just a touch of mischief. Such as Kapil, our back-end guy, really using his back-end capabilities.
And there were spectacular surroundings.
In short, wetransform had a wonderful offsite in 2023! On to the next one!