"Wherever you go, there you are."
How very true this is.
Where I live, work, and play isn’t about the location, but more importantly, it's about simply making the best of where I am. I have heard this throughout my life, probably more times than I can count.
I found though that until I knew how to do that with myself, by myself, I would always be searching; not always sure what I would be searching for, but just a constant feeling of some area of my life, big or small, not being full: “...stepping foot into a new situation, [this] newness provides the container for real introspection and personal evolution.”
Increased focus, productivity and creativity can be felt from even the simplest of changes.
Take writing this blog for example. I have been behind on all of my “laundry lists” and “to-do’s," and I really wanted to get this piece finished. I had allowed this blog to just loom over my head day after day, like a dark rain cloud. Not completing the blog also took up important brain space that I could have used in more productive ways.
Everyday I’d sit at my usual “work from home” spot in front of the windows. Tons of light pouring in, coffee within reach and a fridge full of food. And I’d sit there. And sit there some more. Staring at my computer...
"What is the deal??" I wondered. "I want to write this, so why am I feeling so 'stuck'? This is where I always get work done! I have a view and snacks...why aren't the creative juices just flowing?"
Well, where am I now? Next door, at my neighbor’s house, dog sitting for her, and the words are just flowing.
A simple change of scenery, and I’m back on track. Ready to tackle not just a blog, but so many other exciting projects that deserve my attention.
If a simple change like going next door can get the gears moving again, I understand why even more inspiration is gained from travel.
1. Travel Inspires Creativity
Company retreats are an incredible opportunity for a remote team to have the opportunity to meet and work face to face and also to re-inspire and reboot the team.
One of the wonderful things about team retreats is that the discomfort that comes with experiencing a new place and a new culture doesn’t have to be done alone. The team can “fill two needs with one deed” -- by experiencing new perspectives and getting out of their comfort zone, the team can connect with themselves and with each other which in turn creates a more fluid and productive team.
For years, writers, thinkers, builders, and creators have reaped the creative benefits of international travel. “A change of scenery [will] get the gears moving again...new experiences [ignite] the fire within…”
Studies show that “new sounds, smells, language, tastes, sensations, and sights spark different synapses in the brain and may have the potential to revitalize the mind.”
Adam Galinsky, a professor at Columbia Business School and the author of numerous studies on the connection between creativity and international travel found that “foreign experiences increase both cognitive flexibility and depth of integrativeness of thought, the ability to make deep connections between disparate form."
2. Travel Builds Team Trust
"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness." -- Mark Twain
It is through travel and connecting with others that we are able to connect with ourselves. It has been proven that “when people had experiences traveling to other countries it increased what’s called generalized trust, or their general faith in humanity.”
The new lenses through which we are viewing things allow us to relate to one another on a deeper level. And when we don’t just see but in fact experience how someone else experiences the same thing in a completely different way than us, that is when our eyes, hearts and minds are open to create our best possible work.
3. Travel Increases Connection
Immersive travel is a multi-sensory experience. Getting out of our "bubble" reignites the basic human desire for connection.
According to UCLA professor Matthew Lieberman, author of Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect:
"Being socially connected is our brain's lifelong passion...the need to connect socially with others is as basic as our need for food, water and shelter...Mammals are more socially connected than reptiles, primates more than other mammals, and humans more than other primates...what this suggests is that becoming more socially connected is essential to our survival. In a sense, evolution has made bets at each step that the best way to make us more successful is to make us more social."
Remotely distributed teams are less able to socialize on a regular basis. This lack of socialization makes meeting up face-to-face that much more important.
4. Travel Brings Peace and Clarity to the Team
"Traveling to different locations each time gives us a great new perspective on gratitude and the extreme privilege we have to be able to work and live the way we do." -- Buffer
An inner awareness opens our eyes and our minds. This awareness allows us to understand our own inner processes and how we create.
With this understanding comes peace.
Inner peace allows us to be happy anywhere.
By getting out of your comfort zone and exploring something new, you will find more clarity within yourself and therefore more peace.
5. Travel Improves Health
Experts share that by traveling less, you deprive yourself the opportunity to enhance productivity and work performance. Over-working yourself can lead to an increase in stress as well which has potentially damaging effects on your health.
Travel is shown to recharge you emotionally as well as increase empathy in people.
Also, travelers have shown to be more active when on a trip than when at home sitting in an office chair or desk all day. Engaging with new surroundings allows your team to eliminate stress and to recharge their systems.
Traveling as a team can break up the monotony of the day-to-day routines and put life back into the way the team communicates, replacing video chats and conference calls with face-to-face interaction.
A 2014 study by Diamond Resorts International found that three-quarters of respondents reported feeling happier when they planned a trip at least once a year.
So why a team retreat and not simply encouraging team members and employees to travel solo?
Seeing and experiencing other cultures is the importance of travel.
The importance of taking the team on retreats, the importance of investing in the team in this way is “to connect in person with one another, with our audience and with the community of our host city,” according to Buffer, a company that strongly believes in and benefits from regular team retreats.
For the completely remote team at Buffer, retreats “allow [them] to spend time together, see how each individual lives out the Buffer culture in his and her own way, and experience the world together.”
Retreats are an invaluable investment for your team and the longevity of your company.
Studies have shown that “social rewards might be at least as effective as money in motivating workers...our social nature is so powerful that it even may dictate how effective we are in developing new innovations and producing major societal changes.”
Bijan Vaez, co-founder and CTO of EventMobi writes, “for us [retreats have] become a no-brainer with the sheer amount of value it ends up providing. Although not directly tangible, we feel the change in attitude and the progress it breeds day-to-day when we return from these retreats...A unique experience (instead of providing a small bonus) not only helps with loyalty and retention but can also be useful for recruitment. ”
Vaez’s team has also found that “when co-workers become friends and are comfortable with each other, collaboration and ease of communication shoots through the roof."
"...the sheer value of taking your whole team (not just an isolate incentive trip for higher-ups in the business) changes the company in a way that you can feel. You don't have to go on extravagant trips but seriously considering getting your team away from the day-to-day and get them involved in strategic thinking. I promise you, you will see results and your team will be internally motivated with a renewed understanding and a fresh perspective."
As you begin to make plans for your next (or first!) retreat, consider taking the pressure off of your team and let the Rebel + Connect team take care of it.
The team at Buffer has found that, by being “self-managed...[retreats] take quite a lot of time and energy to plan for the teammates that choose to be involved there, and they often don’t feel the best for our customers when our schedules keep us from getting back to them as soon as we normally would.”
Just remember, retreats are an investment, not an expense. Oh, and they can be pretty fun too. 😉
Have any questions or retreat stories to share? Drop them in the comments below!
Rebel + Connect creates custom retreats for remote teams. A Colorado based company owned and operated by Charlie Birch, Rachel McGehee, and Summer Weirich, we operate remotely and service clients from all over the globe. Join us as we create cultures of meaning and celebrate human connections in a digital world!
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