First Persist Company Retreat: The Power of Getting Together

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Company retreat for Persist Digital Agency happened recently. The team finally gathered together for the first time! But when we say ”happened”, we mean ”it was carefully planned”. ūüôā Our company retreat was an amazing experience of work, play, hanging out, and discussing many things eye to eye. Spending time with each other and our families, kids, and significant others, everyone at one place, was an extraordinary experience. Being a remote team, we realize how important it is for us to¬†get together for some face-to-face bonding.

As much as we enjoyed planning our company retreat and setting up company retreat agenda, we enjoyed, even more, our team building activities. This is how it all started.
Persist Retreat

Choosing the Right Place for Persist Company Retreat

To have the perfect company retreat, it was not only necessary for all of us to balance our schedules and set arrangements with our families. Planning a company retreat, in the first place, means finding the best destination that is easily accessible by car and that has everything that we may need for a three-day stay. Nenad, our PPC Manager, was looking for a place that was close to (almost) all Persist employees as the majority of the team is located in Serbia. And he picked one of the best places for company retreats:

”When I began researching and looking for the place for our company retreat, I had one vision – a place that offers nature at its best, good food, Serbian hospitality, and that it is not too far from Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. Moravski konaci definitely have all of that. There are even animals – a donkey, a horse, a peacock, cats, and dogs. I simply knew that both the kids and us would have a great time!”

Nenad was right, we all did have an amazing time! He picked the perfect place for our retreat.

Etno Village Moravski konaci is a small touristic complex near Velika Plana. It recreates an experience of old Serbian village from the late 19th century. Authentic wooden houses, a picturesque church, wooden fences, horse neighing, birds chirping, and soothing shades around the lake was everything we needed to relax and enjoy. Our kids were running around all the time and we were able to keep an eye on them even during the meetings. The weather was pretty warm so we walked around the lake, sat in front of our camp houses and hung out by the pool. We got to know each other better and talked to each other like we never managed through texts and online meetings.

Company Retreat Cost

Moravski konaci turned out to be an affordable option for a weekend retreat. With transportation being the most expensive item, lodging, food, drinks, and snacks for 8 grownups and 6 kids was about $1000 US. Each room had an air conditioning which is very important in August. The food was amazing; there was plenty of options both for meat lovers and vegetarians, for those with a sweet tooth, as well as great coffee choices those who can’t live and work without it.

Setting Up Our Company Retreat Agenda

After Nenad found the place for Persist company retreat, we started defining our company retreat agenda. We planned it about one week prior to departure. Being dependant on our regular tasks and the workflow, we wanted to paint a bigger picture and brainstorm ideas on growing, creative work and finding a balance in between it all. From Friday to Sunday, we scheduled meetings and brainstorming sessions about monthly services that we do for our clients, communication, tasks, and delegation. We focussed on our packages, offerings, pain points, sales, business issues, and talked about prioritization vs busy work. Focussing on a bigger picture for us and for our clients gave us more confidence to continue this path that we’re on. It’s a productive path that brings results both for us and our clients. We grow, create, and enjoy both the process and the results.

This is how our company retreat agenda looked like.

persist company retreat agenda

Company Retreat Agenda Saturday

We’re happy to say that we stuck to the agenda and left the place 100% happy with our results!

Company Retreat: Face-to-Face Bonding Time Opportunity for Persist Employees

”This retreat changed a lot of things for me. It was great to see in¬†person what others are doing, how they handle tasks, and what are their issues. It changed my perspective and now I realize how I can assist my colleagues better. Before I was following the same route, month after month, but this retreat meetup revealed a bigger picture to me. Now I have a completely different view —¬† I’m a part of something way bigger, Persist family. Nothing beats talking in person with other team members, getting to knowing them better, and actually seeing their facial expressions and gesticulations”, says NebojŇ°a, Persist SEO Manager.

The First Persist Agency Retreat 2018: The Power of Getting Together
Morning meeting at the restaurant: Our PPC Manager says more with his hands than with his eyes.

Everyone on our team is so happy to get to finally meet each other. This team¬†retreat was an incredible way to bring our agency together. Being an all-remote team, we realized — occasional face-to-face bonding is essential for our work and team spirit.

”My family and I had such a great time with these wonderful people. We had lots of fun and it was amazing to see how working with them is also a fun activity”, said Nenad, our PPC Manager who also booked this place for us.

However, we don’t want these gatherings to be occasional; we see them as a part of our culture and we believe that each of our future retreats should feel different.

First Persist Company Retreat: The Power of Getting Together
Carefully listening to each other is the key to our success

CEO of our remote team, Erkan Yildiz, is hopeful: ”My dream and goal is to have these yearly gatherings and to do them at a different place every year.”

FYI, for the next year, we’re hoping to experience the Mediterranean¬†together.¬†?

Although we managed to have a productive weekend work-wise and leisure time-wise, we continued with discussions about the projects we’re currently working on. Maybe these discussions would have never happened spontaneously online. Honestly, nothing beats spending time together. These discussions usually need to be scheduled and carefully planned, in coordination with all other daily tasks we work on. Perhaps one of the best sessions we had was on Saturday evening. The kids fell asleep, the evening was pleasant and warm, and we spontaneously brainstormed a strategy for one of our clients.¬†You know those moments when an idea pops up in the middle of the weekend, and you take only a mental note, saying to yourself that you’ll put it in a document first thing Monday morning? Well, now we didn’t have to do that!¬†?

The First Persist Agency Retreat 2018: The Power of Getting Together
Our Evening Meeting by the Lake: It’s never too late for a good cup of coffee

”Having everyone from the team in one place and everyone working on a problem to solve it, giving recommendations, feedbacks, showed how good we work together as a team, and what can we all do when connected”, says our SEO Manager.

The Real Purpose of Retreat: Listen to the People and Nature

Retreats are perfect occasions to align the team and set a vision. But not only that. Our retreat was the perfect occasion to listen. Being a small team, it was easy for us to gather over drinks, coffee, dinner, or lunch, sit and listen. We didn’t need a reason, actually. It was easy and inspiring to be a part of the conversation in the real-time when everyone is present. These are the moments when minds sync and great ideas are born. At times, it was a lot to take in with all the updates and kids running around us, but we soaked up all the joys and every opportunity to make our processes run even smoother than before.

The First Persist Agency Retreat 2018: The Power of Getting Together
Persist Team: Feelin’ Real Good

Working and Playing Outdoors is a Blessing

”Meetings we had in the open left me with a special feeling of freedom. I love to work outdoors! I have an impression that we were more productive than usual”, says Aleksandar, our designer, and developer.

Occasional downtimes were another positive experience at this retreat. Nature was beautiful! Walking around the lake and simply sitting on the bench, looking at the sunset, and listening to the quietness of the night, replenished our spirits. These are the moments when you actually listen to yourself. And when you listen to your thoughts and feelings, it’s easy to listen and understand others. Invaluable experience!

Persist Team Retreat: Listen to Yourself, Others and Nature
Persist Team Retreat: Listen to Yourself, Others, and Nature

Set near the lake and a river, the camp was quiet and everything we needed was near. The food in the nearby restaurant served amazing coffee and continental breakfast. Some of us even complained they had too much food but we hope to correct this by hiking more on our next retreat. ‚ėļÔłŹ

Plans for Our Future Retreat Team Building Activities

Face-to-face bonding is a must for us, at least once a year. We have our monthly gatherings once a month but they last only 8 hours and not everyone are present. A fully remote team like ours fuels itself with time spent together, and ideas and thoughts exchanged. The retreat we ventured on was a great opportunity for us to improve our culture, our working processes, and communication. Nothing can replace a good ol’ eye to eye conversation.

Persist Team Retreat 2018
Eye to Eye Conversation: Trust Test in the Boat

We also have a lot of ideas about where we would like to go next time and what we would like to do.

”Italy should be the destination for the next Persist retreat.” Erkan

”I would include more sports activities like table tennis or football. Counter-Strike is also a good idea since we all have our computers handy.” Aleksandar

”I think we should find a place that has great food, just like it was here, at Moravski konaci but with a sea view! It would also be great to spend more time enjoying the nature.” Nenad

”We should move more. I suggest serious hiking for the next retreat meetup.” Sandra

” We should play some games, gather over a campfire definitely, and maybe add some time to do our own tasks which are the top priority.” NebojŇ°a

So, we’re making a list for the next retreat.

Persist Team Retreat 2018
Stay tuned to see what’s next

Meanwhile, we cherish the time we spent together. Sharing the excitement about our future together, focussing on our vision for this and the next year, and freely acknowledging our challenges, was liberating, exciting, and inspiring. We reminded each other that we need to take care of ourselves and balance work life, family life, and social life at all times. Grow, improve, and enjoy it! The weekend packed with so much energy, joy, and happiness – we couldn’t ask for more!