All work and no play…

Some said it was a crocodile. Others swore the sighting was of a monitor lizard. One person later conceded it was probably a really big duck. If you’re thinking that you’ve been sent the wrong newsletter, bear with us. Today’s briefing is about team away days – and why they matter.

In early September, team Without spent two sunny days in Norfolk, staying in cabins set around a lake. There were tennis courts and a swimming pool, walking trails and watersports – and suspected sightings of animals “the size of a human!”. What there wasn’t was work.

Our team of strategists, designers, thinkers and writers work hard all year to challenge and deliver briefs, to exceed client expectations. But how often do we switch off and recharge as a team? How often, in hybrid working environments, are we in the company of our colleagues, let alone outside a work setting? How well do we really know each other – and what are we missing out on as a result?

Rarely is a brilliant piece of work created by a single person; every project is collaborative, with different minds coming together to create the whole. When we rely so much on the people we work with, it makes sense to get to know each other better. So what were team Without’s biggest takeaways from Norfolk?

An absolute schooling in the game of Dobble.

A 2am hot tub meeting. Admin done right.

A group of horses at the bank of the lake, scared away by a single pig who wanted a mud bath. Lloyds Bank meets Aardman.

The existential question: what kind of potato are you?

Learning to paddleboard, despite a fear of open water. I want to do it all the time now!

But there was one thing that united everyone, best summed up by one of our newest designers, Paula. “As a new member of Without, the biggest takeaway was being able to see my colleagues outside of the office setting. Sometimes we grab a drink on Wednesdays after work but not everyone is able to join and, since you are still tired from the working day, it’s not the same. The away day felt like a proper break, an opportunity to see other sides to everyone’s personalities and to try out new things.”

Back at work the following Monday morning, there was a different energy in the team meeting. Naturally, it began with a Norfolk debrief – in-jokes, shared anecdotes, new nostalgia. A reminder of how important it is to have fun. We all know what happened to Jack, and the same is true for design. All work and no play makes a dull brand.

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