Our studio has always emphasized the importance of building connections and culture, often in the form of full-team outings and celebrations. But after two years of virtual events, Zoom meetings, and new team additions, we were long overdue for some in-person reconnection.
Connecting as a team
thirteen23 has seen a lot of change this past year: new hires, new brand, growing business opportunities, and even a new space. With all the change in the air, it was a critical time for our team to come together and connect beyond our work.
Our company is no stranger to getting out of the office and having fun, but we wanted to go beyond the boat parties, concerts, and wine tours and have our very first full-team company retreat. Our two-day riverside stay in Seguin, Texas was an opportunity to think about the relationships we have with one another and the roles we play on the team, while also reconnecting on our shared vision for where we’ve been and where we’re headed.
Creating a shared space
The retreat was a much-needed opportunity to connect as a team outside of the office and our computer screens. Being in the same space allowed us to recommit to the importance of collaboration and creating together.
We transitioned out of work mode and into a more carefree headspace through a few hands-on activities, like tie-dying and creating merit badges for our teammates. The time to connect as a team, both getting to know new employees and strengthening years-long relationships, helped us to build trust, inspire genuine camaraderie, and highlight how much we value one another as coworkers and as people.
A new perspective
As the latest to join the thirteen23 team, I initially feared my newness would make me an outsider to this tight-knit group, but my fears quickly dissipated at the retreat where thirteen23’s culture became more apparent than ever.
Outside of the activities we did together, the majority of our time was spent swimming, lounging at the pool, or playing ping pong. For a newbie like me, this was an invaluable way to get to know the team’s interests, family life, and even some dating histories. Though I already had a couple of months under my belt at the company leading up to the retreat, this time getting to know my teammates and meeting some in person for the first time solidified that I belong here.
Where we’re going
After the last couple of years, the significance of having the entire team in one place could not be missed. By creating a meaningful space to connect with each other, the retreat inspired us to think collaboratively about the relationships that design and technology can have with each other and with our world.
As a team, we explored a vision for design and technology that has a more positive effect on people’s lives. We discussed the importance of technologies that inspire natural, conversational interactions, considered how technology can be more sustainable, focused on the ethical impact of technology and the importance of digital well-being, and re-confirmed the value of inclusive technologies that are assistive and accessible by design.
Our desire to connect design to more purposeful outcomes is what makes our company unique, our teammates engaged, and the opportunities to come together so inspiring.
A full-team retreat is one of the many benefits of having a small, supportive team. It creates opportunities not only to break from our day-to-day schedules, but also to create new ideas, align on how our daily work fits into the bigger picture, and connect personally with one another. Needless to say, we are already planning next year’s retreat—stay tuned for more thirteen23 adventures.
For a closer look at our time together in Seguin, check out our Instagram for some behind-the-scenes retreat photos!