Last week, (from May 15-19, 2017) we left our desks and met in Eisenach, Thuringia, Germany, for a team retreat. And we didn’t meet to work, but to get to know each other. Having embraced a remote work environment, we can work from anywhere and don’t have a shared office. During day-to-day-work, we therefore don’t have any coffee parties in the office kitchen. With our team retreat, we intended to compensate that. Wondering whether it worked out or not? Read more and find out.
Team Retreat Inpsyde: Arrival
We travelled to Eisenach from all over Germany. Our first obstacle: To get to our lodging, we had to go up a huge hill (and had to go up the hill very often during our stay). But it has been worth it going up the landmarked cobblestone street: We had a wonderful view over the whole city.
Besides the birds (which interfered with our talks quite frequently, and loudly), we had a lot of space around us. Even the WiFi supported our team retreat by giving out from time to time (surely with good intentions).
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Team Day 1: Hiking
All of us got out of bed with some difficulty. After all, we had had our first evening together the day before and talked a lot.
Hiking through the “Dragon Gorge”
However, we were able to continue talking to each other seamlessly the next day. Together, we trekked through the area around Eisenach, more precisely: on one of Germany’s most famous hiking trails, the “Rennsteig”, leading us straight through the Thuringian Forest.
On our way, we passed the “Dragon Gorge”. It’s a small passage between rocks which was created by a little stream thousands of years ago.
Going-up-and-down through the forest tired some of us – fortunately, we arrived at a ridge around lunch time. There, bread, cheese, sausages, drinks and cakes waited to be eaten by hungry Inpsyders.
Dinner with the “Eisenacher Donkey”
After our day trip, we needed to refill our reserves. We did that by eating dinner together at the Eisenacher “Brunnenkeller”. Besides eating original Thuringian food (for example Thuringian dumplings with sauerbraten and red cabbage), we could drink the Eisenacher black donkey, a local beer.
Team Day 2: culture program
We had even more trouble getting out of bed the next morning, not only because of getting little sleep, but also because of our aching muscles from the previous day’s journey.
The Wartburg – one of Germany’s most popular castles
Probably one of the most popular monuments around the city Eisenach is the Wartburg. The castle was built nearly 1000 years ago. There took place some very important events in Germany’s history. A few examples: There is the story that in medieval times, the Wartburg was the setting of a legendary singer competition called the “Sängerkrieg”. Moreover, Elisabeth of Thuringia, a Hungarian princess, grew up there. Because of her kindness and her care for the poorest in her country, she has been sainted. In 1521, Martin Luther hid himself in the Wartburg and translated the bible into German. The Wartburg has great importance in the recent past, too. For example, the German “Burschenschaften” (student fraternities) gathered in 1817 at the so called “Wartburgfest” to advocate for their civil rights and for a free nation state.
We love working – or: team meetings at our team retreat
What was supposed to be a free afternoon, turned out to be a team meeting. We used the free time to talk about our working processes in our daily work routines. And we recognized: There is nothing like working together in the same room and talking to each other directly.
Team meetings at team retreat
Guided Tour through Eisenach
In the evening, we took a look behind the facades of Eisenach. Our guide, dressed up in the disguise of a gatekeeper of the 16th century, explained Eisenach’s history. Something that surprised us all: In order to attract tourists, the people living in the 19th century simplified and changed historical events. For example, there is a Luther House and a Bach House. It’s said that both Martin Luther an Johann Sebastian Bach lived in these houses, which is not entirely true. If you want to know more about that, don’t hesitate to ask – or visit Eisenach to find out. 🙂
Team Day 3: Team Challenges
Time to play a team game!
In the morning, we separated ourselves into three teams: A “I-don’t-want-to-walk-that-much”-group, a “Walking”-group and a “Straight-through-the-Wildernis”-group. Each of our teams got a compass and coordinates. At certain points, there were clues we had to find. It was the game’s goal to find all clues in order to be able to build rafts.
“Straight through the Wildernis”
We ran cross-country through the Thuringian Forest, passed fields and a castle ruin.
We also had to climb rocks. For that, we wore climbing gear.
Adventure building rafts
At lunch time, all groups met again to eat together. After a short break and some time to distribute headgear (the sun shined very intensely), we started building our rafts. After that, we enjoyed a whole afternoon on a river, drinks and sun included.
Working Culture: Remote Work vs. Office Routine?
We used the team retreat to get to know each other more personally. Even though we have a so called “Flausch” meeting every friday and a Slack Channel “teeküche” (tea kitchen) to talk about personal stuff, personal meetings cannot be replaced. Something that became quite clear: There are some things, for example shared working processes, which can be discussed much more effectively when sitting in the same real room next to each other.
The new working culture, remote work with a team retreat once a year, vs. coffee parties in the office, which way is better to get to know the colleagues? Our estimation is quite clear: working remotely means that everyone can integrate work into his life the way it fits best. Nobody has to orientate his life to his work anymore. And that’s the most important and significant plus in contrast to working in an office.
Therefore, our team retreat has been the ideal complement to our way of working. It was a team retreat we hope to repeat. And there, not only the German Inpsyders should meet, but all Inpsyders including our colleagues living in the USA, Bangladesh, Italy and Portugal. Something else we shouldn’t forget: Taking time to work together face to face.