That’s right. Four times a year, we take half a week to step out of our normal roles and come together at a retreat. I know what you’re thinking. “How do you find the time for that? What’s the point of retreat? Isn’t that a lot of wasted time?”
We find a lot of value in hosting retreats, which is why we always make time for them.
“I think retreats provide so much value to our company in how we come together, work together, learn together, and grow together. It’s certainly a tradition everyone in the company finds important, and has some fun with, too!” -Dusty Davidson, CEO of Flywheel
Flywheel retreats originally started with the whole company traveling somewhere new to get a fresh perspective, but as we’ve grown, they’ve transformed over the years. Regardless of the format, however, they always give us a chance to align with our company’s mission.
When we first pioneered a company retreat, there were just over twenty full-time employees who took off to Vegas to spend a few days talking strategy, creating a vision, and participating in all-company support.
With a team of over 150 people all around the world as of July 2018, we’ve had to do some rethinking when it comes to retreats. We still do all-company retreats in our Omaha headquarters twice a year, but the other two quarters are team-based, allowing each team to focus on their own strategy and how it relates to Flywheel’s mission.
“Scaling retreats to fit Flywheel’s growth has been a fun challenge, and I think that the company as a whole has done a great job coming together to grow personally, professionally, and still keep the same values and goals retreats started with.” – Brett Hicks, Employee Experience Manager
This time away from our normal day-to-day jobs allows us to come together to solve problems, better help our customers, create the best products, and have some fun along the way. Retreats are also the best place to talk about company strategy, debrief our past work, and set goals for the future.
Beyond location, the programming of each retreat also varies, depending on our goals at the time. (We always choose a company goal as the theme of a retreat!) Some examples have included being customer-obsessed (where we had great discussions with customers and dove into the user journey) or being product-driven (where we mapped out our long-term product strategy and how to get there). These themes help guide our vision and conversations happening throughout the week, and also influence some of the activities we put on.
Sometimes we do a Hack Day where we break into groups and work on something totally unrelated to our day jobs, to keep our skills fresh and explore our creativity. Sometimes we treat it like a conference and allow Flywheelers to apply to give talks. And to kick off the first retreat of each year, we hold the Flywheelies, our all-company award ceremony.
Most recently, we’ve made some changes to our company retreat by creating Fly Fest, our conference-style retreat where Flywheelers are given the opportunity to present 25-minute discussions, aimed to help inspire each other and grow together. It’s a great way we live our fly values. (You can follow along with our new conference-style retreat by following #LifeAtFlyFest on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!)
Although the retreats have changed a lot since the beginning, there is one thing that hasn’t changed at all: All Company Disco! Formerly called all company support, ACD is a re-imagined way each and every employee works together to help our customers. Whether it be taking a sales call, helping with a migration, or solving emergency tickets, our team works tirelessly to be there for our customers with 24/7 support. This awesome experience allows us to build empathy with our customers and coworkers by stepping into those roles.
If you ask us, every company should prioritize retreats. In fact, Flywheel probably wouldn’t be where it is today without them. Each one brings new ideas, new product alignment, and new memories that we share together as the Flywheel family. We’ve found endless value for our company (and because of it, our customers).
That’s why we hold them four times a year, and why we’ll continue to hold them as we grow!