Two of the most popular questions that keep a CEO up at night: Is our team doing enough of the right things? And, are my employees happy? It’s no secret how vital it is to invest in your people. If you don’t feel included or have fun at work, it’s pretty likely that you’re one of the stressed out, overworked multitudes. Our startup found the ultimate hack for boosting team productivity and community at the same time: a 10-day workathon for the entire company at a location outside of the office. This workathon is a hackathon-meets-company-retreat, the perfect recipe for smaller companies who need to move more agilely.
How a workathon can help your startup
A workathon is a great opportunity for your team to get a lot of stuff done, especially if you have a big project coming up. But it’s also a chance for a growing team to spend quality time together.
Here are just a few aspects that are essential to building a successful and thriving work community:
Work and play go hand in hand
Your workathon shouldn’t be nonstop work. It’s important to take time to sit down together for lunch and dinner, and schedule some downtime in the evenings (Playstation 4, anyone?).
Mixing work and play like this actually makes you more productive during long stretches of work. The small breaks give your brain time to rest, process and gear up for new ideas.
Trust employees to do a great job
At our workathon, we had daily standup meetings. That meant we were all aware of each other’s tasks and we strategized those tasks together, but when it came down to it, it was up to the individual to complete those tasks.
Micromanaging is a productivity killer. When people are given independence over their own work, it ups their accountability to the project and naturally makes a person want to do a better job.
Team bonding is necessary for success
We’re not saying everyone has to be best friends with their colleagues, but it is so important that team members get the chance to hang out in a non-work setting. Team building is about getting to know what makes the other person tick and what lights a spark in their eyes.
When you understand how your team members think, you understand how they work, which results are a smoother team dynamic.
A change of scenery boosts focus
There’s something about a window with a new view that forces your brain to think outside its normal parameters.
Everyday distractions are gone and you’re out of your comfort zone. Working outside in the fresh air is even more of a power boost to the brain.
Teams need to keep learning
This might be one of the most important things to take away from the idea of a workathon. People who work for startups tend to have insatiable curiosity.
As a founder, your job is to feed this curiosity. A fun and time-efficient way to do this is to schedule “lunch and learns” during your workathon (or even during a normal weekday).
For example, have one of your developers give a 20 minute talk on a topic like refactoring or quality assurance while the team eats lunch. It’s a great chance for everyone else on your team to learn more about the tech side of the company.
Not to mention, your employees gain more appreciation for their fellow team members’ roles. The more your team members learn, the smarter they work.