Workin’ Away

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I was probably drawn to the picture of the fuzzy haired man working at a table without a shirt on in this particular Inc. Magazine article (which let’s admit, even as an adult I’m drawn to pictures which is why I find the Economist a drudge). The article by Adam Bluestein about managing titled ‘Way out of the office’ detailed “one CEO’s decision to let his employees pack up and move to Brazil for six weeks.” That pretty much sounds like adult-study-abroad. Sign me up.

Here’s the article. Dimagi is a company that ‘develops mobile apps designed to improve health care in developing countries.’ Ok it was hard to reword that, so I just copied it. The short summary is that one of those ‘developing countries’ they work with is Brazil, so one cold winter it was brainstormed that maybe the company’s 15 US-based employees should go work in Brazil for a few weeks, since they basically work off a computer and an internet connection anyhow.

So they did. Well most of them that are young and can up and go at a notice did so for six weeks. All the employees worked and lived together in a new country for 6 weeks. What they discovered was that working in this way allowed them to engage in more ‘casual conversation’ while working and created a bonding experience that stretched in and out of the office. The CEO only attended part of the 6 weeks, so the employees had an opportunity to work on their own amongst each other.

So this got me to thinking slightly off-topic (no, not about how I can get my boss to let me work in Rio) about how this sort of ‘bonding’ engagement could actually work across teams in the sports arena.  Much of the competition seen on the field with sports teams tend to stretch into the front office and we operate as competing factions, within our league and against other sports teams as we’re all competing for that limited discretional family dollar. Or so it seems sports teams have a tendency to align themselves that way.

This is my proposal: I’d like to ‘study abroad’ with another team in our league (whichever league that may be).  And the reason is simple: I have ideas and so do they, and couldn’t we collaborate and become a greater ‘whole’ as a league if we can exchange ideas not just over a cell phone or a go-to-meeting conference but in person in each other’s environs? Call me old-fashioned but I prefer having a league vs. not having a league, so why not strengthen each other.

This idea of collaboration is not new. Each league I’ve worked in will have sales, marketing, or operations calls, where best-practices can be shared and exchanged amongst those department’s heads.  And it’s nice, when the wind isn’t blowing hardcore into someone’s cell phone because they forgot to mute it or you hear their child in the background because they’re not actually at the office, etc.  The main point here is that I believe a week away from the chair, away from the desk, the office, the same scenery, could have a profound effect on your brain’s ability to create enthusiasm and new ideas. I realize it’s a money issue, but the opportunity to take a working vacation could pay much larger dividends in the end for the success of the team. I’ll be the first guinea pig.


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