Last December, Martin (our CEO) and I were discussing perks we could offer to our employees to motivate them to travel abroad. Both of us are globetrotters and understand the value of taking time off to disconnect from work to discover a new place. As individuals we learn a lot from different cultures, and as employees we return to work feeling energized. It’s a win-win for our personal and professional lives.

The Original Idea

We started by researching what other firms were doing for their employees. At our annual Christmas party we announced that we’d be renting a house abroad for our employees to stay at for free on their vacations. In addition, we planned to subsidize a portion of their plane tickets.

The Doubt

Upon reflection, we weren’t sure if this plan was the best fit for our company. We anticipated limited participation from employees and our fear was that the apartment would be empty and unused most of the time. But the biggest flaw was that it wouldn’t build rapport or inspire team spirit – two things that we greatly value at Osedea.

The Revival

We came up with the idea to go on a team trip together. In comparison to our original idea, this one really resonated because:

  • It promoted team building: our team had grown significantly in the last six months and there were a lot of new faces. A team trip would encourage us to get to know each other in a relaxed setting.
  • It didn’t involve additional steps for our employees: team members just had to commit to coming, we would take care of the rest.

The Trip

It took us four months to plan the whole trip. We rented a house close to Montego Bay in Jamaica and booked our flights. In the week leading up to the trip, we finalized our agenda and booked some awesome activities. All that was left to do was pack our bags and enjoy!

This trip wasn’t just about working in a different setting. We had two objectives: learning and having tons of fun!

Day 1: We rose early and spent the day in transit. We got to our magnificent former royal residence mid-afternoon just in time to relax by the pool, play tennis and enjoy the view. Before dinner, we had time to slot in a discussion, training of design principles and a technical talk on Laravel. We then enjoyed the rest of the evening as a team.

Day 2: In Montreal, we typically do “lunch and learns” once a month, but there’s nothing like learning in phenomenal weather with a beautiful view. On our learning and training day we covered many topics such as advanced git, Ansible, VIM, d3.js and strategies for boosting daily productivity. In the evening, we took a boat trip to see the Luminous Lagoon, which literally glows in the dark. The team was hyped!

Day 3: Our friends told us how much fun they had celebrating Saint-Jean-Baptiste on June 24, but we know our day beat theirs, hands down! We started the day at the beach sipping coconut water and capped it off on a catamaran cruise. There were plenty of new activities for everyone like snorkeling and climbing up Dunn’s River Falls.

Day 4: No visit to Jamaica is complete without visiting a rum estate. We zipped around the island on narrow winding mountain roads. We sampled all sorts of rum, freshly pressed sugarcane juice and molasses. And, there may have been a beef patty here and there.

Day 5: We packed our bags and headed home.

Everyone had a blast! Even three weeks later, we’re swapping stories and sharing inside jokes from the trip. The team response was very positive, and some people have even said that it was their favourite trip so far.

Still not convinced that a team trip is a right fit for your company? There are other benefits to take into consideration, like lower airfares for group (about 10% off), and group discounts on excursions.

Or if that doesn’t convince you, maybe these photos will…

Jamaica 2

Feel free to reach out to us if you want advice on planning a team trip for your startup! We’re happy to lend some words of wisdom! :)