Remote Work Diaries - How We Packed Our Bags and Decided to F*** Winter

Mimi Boyer, Head of People & Culture
June 30, 2019

Yes, you heard it right!. The GrowthGenius team decided to escape the Canadian winter for a full month and instead basked in glorious sunshine in the beautiful city of Mérida. This initiative had been on our radar for the past 9 months and was aptly named F***Winter2019.

I started writing this post on the patio of a café, with flip flops on my feet, sunglasses on my face and the warm wind on my skin. *pinch me*

As a people & culture advocate, I only really imagined this moment in my dreams. Never did I actually think that I would be a part of a team that has the mindset to create such magic for their employees.

When I joined GrowthGenius last May, our CEO mentioned that he hated winter. Having grown up in Vancouver, he was used to mild winters and there is a certain nightmarish quality to Toronto winters. During one of our company town halls, he dropped the idea of working remotely from a warmer city during winter back in the summer of 2018 and people quickly rallied behind it.

We started brainstorming ways to make this work for everyone and ultimately decided to tie it in with company objectives - instead of working hard to achieve a financial goal, our team decided to work smarter in order to hit certain milestones that would allow the full team to spend the month of February in Mexico. This turned out to be a great way to get our team aligned on a common goal!

Pro Tip: Shift your focus from working harder to working smarter.

I’ve seen plenty of companies making the assumption that their employees will be motivated to hit company targets because of a bonus.
What about engaging your full team around a specific reward that will 100% get EVERYONE excited!? If you have a common DREAM, people will deliver MAGIC!  

We all know that, in startups, there’s so much that is unknown. Then, why would your talented team members stick around even through the tougher times? They will if they are challenged and inspired by their leadership team, if they know they have their back, that no matter what happens, the founders will do their absolute best to make their team shine, they’ll do what it takes.

So, while I could be bragging about our team being in Mexico enjoying life in the sun, that’s not my intention here. What I truly want to share with all of you is our willingness as a company to dare to be different. Our dedication to trust our team, to let them be the best version of themselves by giving them the space to do so, to express their concerns, their wishes and by supporting their growth at every stage.

Our experience in Mexico has brought our team even closer together. We were able to problem solve creatively and collaboratively when we had wifi issues and other travelling hiccups.

As leaders, it’s so important to be human, to connect with our teams and trust our intuitions. As Patty McCord said in her recent Ted Talk, your employees are all adults, not robots, we should treat them as they are. Who loves rules and conventions? Not us!

At GrowthGenius, we are all humans that have an eagerness to grow and experience what life has to offer. Well, by giving our team access to a beautiful working environment, less commuting problems in snow storms and more adventures for a month, we were able to create memories for a lifetime.

I’ll let you in on something - we are currently testing the remote work model as our team has been asking for more freedom. We heard them and are testing things out. We are acting on what our team craves and going with the trial & error approach.

Key lessons learnt from #FuckWinter2019

1.Team building
Our team definitely enjoyed the trip and learned a lot about each other. It has brought the team closer together, with a better understanding of who we are. We also think it will make for better and stronger communication within the team in the coming months.

2.Be adaptable and try to plan for the unexpected
It may help to have buffers in your days/schedule, to allow for things that do not go as planned or are beyond your control (internet cutting off, getting sick/not feeling well, lunch taking too long at the restaurant, etc).
Sometimes, things will not go as planned and you have to roll with the punches. It’s part of the experience of working/living in a foreign country and so it’s really important to have an open and exploratory mindset.

There may have been days where efficiency was less due to internet/co-working space issues, but being in a new, warmer climate and subjecting ourselves to new experiences allowed us to problem solve better and give our clients better experiences. There is definitely a non-tangible gain that is real but difficult to measure (i.e. the benefit of being in the sun for 30 days).

4.Staying connected to the team back home
We did not feel disconnected from the team in the office; with a bit of effort we were able to stay in touch pretty well. If anything, communication may have improved because we couldn’t see some of our teammates all the time and so we tried to set aside time to connect with them.

5.Allocate more time for the basics
When you're somewhere new you can't expect, or get mad when timelines aren't the same.  Also figure out your basics - grocery stores, laundry, pharmacy etc - while they're still a nice to have, not a need to have.

6.Be mindful of the vacation mentality
The 'vacation' excuse for ordering dessert/skipping a workout/buying stuff works great when you're only doing it a couple of weeks a year, but when you start spending months in different locations, the vacation mentality can really increase your waistline and shrink your bank account.

If you could remember only one point in this is to stop and ask yourself: when was the last time you tried something completely unconventional and different in your business!? Something that would get EVERYONE excited! Now is the time to do so.

Interested in learning more about how you can bring your email prospecting game to the next level? Contact us today!

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