April 8, 2022
Well what fun we had on our Unboxed Away Day this month at the Great House. It’s the first time that we have all been together (except sadly for those of us abroad, or at the end of Covid, the gift that keeps on keeping us isolated!) since the pandemic started.
Since March 2020 we have had over half the company join us at Unboxed which has been amazing. We have all worked hard to make everyone feel welcome, successfully onboarded, connected and embedded into our culture while we have been remote and now hybrid. It has been a challenge for sure. It’s not easy to join a company when you can’t meet with people face-to-face and see how they work.
One of our core values at Unboxed is Healthier Relationships. Good relationships with our clients and our teams is so important for working well together and for delivering good products and services. Healthy relationships are vital for our wellbeing too. It is central to our culture that we feel comfortable to be open and honest with each other, that we get to know our colleagues, understand what makes us tick, how we work best and what gets our personal goats. One of the biggest strains of working remotely through the pandemic was the distance we had from our colleagues and friends. While we continued to keep in touch remotely (often trying even harder than normal) and were really quite successful at it, with some reflection we have understood how difficult it has actually been, not to be able to be in a room together. To simply catch up, talk through experiences, ask for help, discuss ideas or just have a moan over coffee!
So it was with enormous pleasure that we were able to spend a whole day and night together in person. For those of us who couldn’t be with us in person, they were able to join part of the day remotely and contribute to the talks and discussion. Hopefully next time, they will be able to join us. The work away day can definitely be something that people dread! But all the feedback has been extremely positive and it felt like spending time with family and friends as opposed to work!
Martyn opened the morning’s proceedings with a round up of what’s happened over the last couple of years. He also took the opportunity to celebrate the work won, the relationships maintained, all our new joiners and generally take a moment to recognise and thank everyone for their hard work, and the important fact that through difficult times we have maintained our fantastic culture as best we can.
We then enjoyed a talk by Richard, founder of Char.gy and founder of Unboxed. He talked about the journey from the beginnings of Unboxed over 17 years ago, to the inception and growth of his start up Char.gy - on street infrastructure for electric car charging. Then we were joined from Mozambique by Cameron Smith, one of the founders of unwaste.io, a social enterprise that uses data to help reduce plastic waste in our environment. Another fascinating and enthusiastic start up story from a very different environment. It was brilliant to hear about the ups and downs of starting and maintaining two very different businesses. It got us thinking about the next potential product and the motivation behind it. Richard and Cameron gave us a good picture of how much time, energy, passion, drive and resilience it takes to get something off the ground and make it a success.
Well, probably many people! But after all that inspiration from the morning talks, we headed off to Laser Tag to let off some steam and run around a bit with laser guns.
Learning by doing is another important value for us at Unboxed. And I learned that I’m not very good at Laser Tag. But I did learn who I would want on my team come the apocalypse! Fiacré, Anastasia, Ben, Ali and Matt reigned supreme but in true team spirit we all (well mostly all) really enjoyed running about a darkened smokey room with laser guns and having a good laugh in the process. Some of us will be back for more!
A fantastic day was rounded off with drinks and a lovely dinner. Communities of every kind bond over food and it’s no different in the workplace. Food has always been a feature at Unboxed, with monthly breakfasts, linkers and thinkers lunches and opportunities to bond over food in the office. In my blog back in December 2019 I talked about the positive power of food and eating together in the workplace. Just like a family might navigate its way through life's ups and downs round the dinner table, when we take time to sit together and enjoy food it’s an opportunity to connect and to learn things about each other. In a discreet way it stands us in good stead for navigating the challenges of project work and the day-to-day. We have missed these opportunities while we’ve been remote. But with hybrid working and increasing face-to-face time, it has been great to be able to share a table with our colleagues again, to have the time and opportunity to socialise and reflect on the last couple of years, and to learn more about each other.
We will certainly continue to enjoy spending time together, global pandemics allowing. Laughing and chatting doesn’t really feel quite the same through a screen. Huge thanks to Emily and Matt for organising such a brilliant venue and day and we are looking forward to the next one when hopefully everyone can join.