PODCAST: Noravera Discusses Company Retreats and How They Cater to Their Team Dynamic
In this episode of Outback Talks: The Employee Engagement Podcast, we sit down with Noravera’s Brian Ceci to discuss how their recent company retreat catered to their team dynamic.
Company retreats have a wide range of purposes, from team building with your employees to setting goals for the year ahead. In Part Two of our special company retreats episode on Outback Talks: The Employee Engagement Podcast, we speak with Brian Ceci, co-founder and cinematographer at the video production company Noravera, about his team’s most recent retreat. In the interview, Brian explains how the trip catered to their team dynamic and what it ultimately drove home to all the employees. Listen to the episode below or keep reading for an overview of our discussion.
Noravera is a full-service video production company based out of Vancouver, British Columbia, doing everything from content creation to documentaries. They are a close-knit team of eight and, as such, keeping their dynamic casual and fun is important. Along with making sure to set aside time after work at least once a month to socialize, Noravera’s annual company retreats are always catered towards their group. They achieve this by:
Creating a Healthy Work-Play Balance
It’s not all about play – a significant portion of the trip is dedicated to a work-related purpose. For their most recent retreat, Brian explains, “The fiscal year had ended, and we wanted to kick off the new year with some direction, specifically a new brand that we unveiled at the trip, [and] some things that we wanted to tidy up, some new mandates. We had a mission statement prepared. We had a big presentation planned, so it wasn’t just about just going up there. But we did have a lot of fun together as a group, too.”
The colleagues took their Friday workday off and drove up to E.C. Manning Provincial Park, a popular outdoor recreational spot in British Columbia, Canada, and made a quick pit stop at a family amusement park to play arcade games on the way. When they arrived at their destination, it was time to get to business.
“We just kind of hunkered down and brought out our presentation and talked about our core values as a group,” Brian says. “Going into some airing of grievances. Our specific business relies on different creative elements being logistically prepared together – so, typically how a video would work would be that, you know, someone would come to us with an idea and then we prepare it creatively. And so, what you need for something like that to happen is to be very cohesive, because people have timelines and they have multiple assets they need to create from this. It needs to be really scheduled and efficient, and so we wanted to make sure that everyone was on the same page.”
Nurturing Employee Relationships in Close Quarters
After that, the coworkers got to relax. They played board games, indulged in a couple cheeky beverages, and simply enjoyed having meaningful conversations with each other. And part of the reason they were able to do that so well was due to their intimate accommodations – a cabin.
“It seems like the best thing that we do well together as a group is sort of hunker down in a cabin-type of scenario,” Brian explains. “I find that a good way to go, because it keeps everyone contained, there are no activities, really, that don’t involve talking, and having a good time, and communicating.”
Spouses were welcome to join on the second day of the trip. Inviting significant others is something Noravera hasn’t previously done before at company retreats, but it provided some extra value to their whole “family” dynamic. “It was just a nice way to bring everything together, I thought,” Brian says.
Ultimately, the trip was a big triumph. Not only did it prepare everyone for the coming year, but, more than anything, it strengthened the employees’ connections with one another – an integral component of a healthy and successful organization. The good vibe that everyone collectively felt on the retreat has carried over in the office since they’ve been back to work.
“The biggest thing I’ve taken away from [the retreat] is that I think that we did a really good job hiring the right people,” Brian adds. “I really love everyone in our group. They’re just so wonderful and it just makes coming to work every day such a joy. I love it.”
You can hear more from Brian by listening to the episode above. And don’t forget to subscribe to our podcast, Outback Talks: The Employee Engagement Podcast, on Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, SoundCloud, or Stitcher. See the full transcription of the interview below.
Want to Learn More About Company Retreats?
Check out our free guide, Everything You Need to Know About Planning the Ultimate Company Retreat, for more expert advice on how to prepare a successful company retreat. For even further support, just reach out to one of our Employee Engagement Consultants.
Yasmine Shemesh (YS): Welcome back to Outback Talks: The Employee Engagement Podcast. This podcast is produced by Outback Team Building & Training – a leading team building, training, and consulting provider for organizations across North America. I’m your host, Yasmine Shemesh, and this is Part Two of our company retreats episode. On today’s show, we are speaking with Brian Ceci. Brian is co-founder and cinematographer at the video production company, Noravera. He sat down with me in our studio here to talk about their most recent company retreat and all the different ways that these trips are important for his team to take.
YS: Thank you so much for taking the time to sit with me today, Brian.
Brian Ceci (BC): Yeah, thanks for having me.
YS: So, full disclosure, Brian and I go way back. We’ve been friends since we were, like, 19? Back in the early Capilano College days. [Capilano College is a university in British Columbia, Canada]
BC: Yeah, yeah. Right! Oh my god!
YS: That was a long time ago.
BC: Yeah, totally.
YS: It’s good to see you, though.
BC: Good to see you as well.
YS: So, first of all, can you tell me just a little bit about your company, Noravera?
BC: Yeah, we are a full-service video production company. We do everything from those annoying YouTube video ads that you see before you watch the video you want to watch. We do tons of those. We do lots of social content, content creation – so any type of small little videos for different companies. We do documentaries, we do TV spots, cinema spots, all kinds of different stuff.
YS: That’s awesome.
YS: And I heard that you guys just had your company retreat.
BC: We did. Yeah, we try to do one every year. We have eight total people in the company, so it’s a small company, but it’s nice and intimate, which is great, and so all the retreats have been kind of catered towards what the group feels like.
YS: That’s great. That’s important, too, to make sure that you’re going and doing things that everybody is interested in doing.
BC: Yeah, exactly. We don’t want to do the same thing every year, because then it just kind of gets stale, so we try to mix it up.
YS: That’s cool. So, where did you guys go this year?
BC: We went to Manning Park. [E.C. Manning Provincial Park is a popular outdoor recreational park in British Columbia, Canada]
YS: Oh nice!
BC: Yeah, so it’s like an hour north of Hope.
YS: Yeah. Beautiful!
BC: Yeah, it was really nice. I’d say the time of the year could’ve been better if it been really snowy or really sunny, but it was just kind of a wet in-between season. So, that could have been better, but it was a really fun little trip. We basically took the Friday off and drove up there, and then there was a Castle Fun Park.
YS: Oh, I know that place. That place is great!
BC: Yeah, it is! And we went there and basically gave everybody, like, 20 or 30 bucks each to just go nuts and everyone basically banded together. We just did all kinds of stuff together. Played mini golf as a group and some arcade games. And then just kind of headed up there, grabbed some groceries, and then got up to Manning Park.
YS: That’s great!
YS: So, did the whole office come?
BC: Yup, the whole office did. All eight of us.
YS: That’s nice, that’s great. Before you guys plan the company retreats, do you sort of set out goals that you want to achieve for each one? Or is it more of a ‘we just want to get together and be out of the office, and just have fun together’ bonding kind of thing?
BC: It’s both, actually. More about the fiscal year had ended and we wanted to kick off the new fiscal year with some direction, specifically a new brand that we unveiled at the trip, some things that we wanted to kind of tidy up, some new mandates. We had a mission statement prepared. We had a big presentation planned, so it wasn’t just about just going up there. But we did have a lot of fun together as a group, too. We played games and drank a lot of alcohol. That kind of stuff.
YS: As you do.
BC: Yeah, as you do.
YS: That’s great. It’s good to have that balance as well, right?
BC: Yeah, definitely, for sure.
YS: Did you guys do any team building sessions or anything like that?
BC: When we got there, we just kind of hunkered down and brought out our presentation and just talked about our core values as a group. Going into some airing of grievances.
YS: Which is important, too.
BC: It is, yeah.
YS: That feedback component is really important because, then you can improve on those things and make the company even better.
BC: Oh, definitely. And our specific business kind of relies on different creative elements being logistically prepared together. So, typically how a video would work would be that, you know, someone would come to us with an idea and then we prepare it creatively. So that brings on a director for the project and then our project managers will take that and make it so. So, bring locations, actors, hair and make-up, wardrobe, all those components to it, and then it gets put into post-production, and then they put it all together. And so, what you need for something like that to happen is to be very cohesive, because people have timelines and they have multiple assets they need to create from this.
It needs to be really scheduled and efficient, and so we wanted to make sure that everyone was on the same page. Even the editors that don’t necessarily have anything to do with logistics, they just know how projects should roll and how much work has been put into this already.
YS: Yeah, absolutely. It’s so important for everybody to be on the same page.
BC: Yeah, exactly.
YS: Especially when you’re working in such a collaborative environment.
BC: Totally. Yeah, and then we unveiled our brand for everybody. So, it’s a new logo, and some colors, and prepared a little bit of a brand guideline for people. And then in the subsequent weeks, it was unveiling it. We had new creative decks that we’ve been putting out, that kind of stuff.
YS: That’s awesome!
YS: Congratulations, that’s super exciting!
BC: For sure!
YS: So, do you have any memorable stories or anything significant that’s stuck with you from the trip?
BC: Well, in general, the group is quite close. We hang out after work quite a bit together – in different pieces, like, not always everyone’s there, but, we’re really social. We do stuff once a month, at least, to just to keep everyone on the same page and keep it kind of loose and fun.
But the biggest thing I’ve taken away from that is that I think that we did a really good job hiring the right people, I really love everyone in our group. They’re just so wonderful and it just makes coming to work every day such a joy. I love it.
YS: That’s awesome.
BC: Yeah. It was a good little experiment. The other thing that I should mention is that we brought our significant others up on the second day of it, so they came a day later after our presentation, and we had everyone there. So, it was a different dynamic, but it was fun.
YS: Have you guys not done that previously?
BC: We had not. No, so it was a new element to it.
YS: That’s cool. That sort of really hones in on that whole being a family thing, too. Especially when you have such a small, tight knit group of people working together.
BC: Yeah, definitely. And you know, everyone’s spousal units – not everyone has one – but, it was just a nice way to kind of bring everything together, I thought.
YS: That’s great. So, what has the vibe been like now in the office since you guy have come back?
BC: Yeah, it’s been good. Everyone’s really stoked. It’s kind of carried on and that’s what we wanted. It seems like the best thing that we do well together as a group is sort of hunker down in a cabin-type of scenario. I find that a good way to go, because it keeps everyone contained, there’s no activities really that don’t involve talking, and having a good time, and communicating. Whereas if you were to do a bunch of activities like go-karting or something, it doesn’t necessarily bond everyone as much, I find, because you’re not chatting while you’re doing it as much, you know? You’re just focused on the activity and then it’s over.
YS: Yeah, whereas, when you’re in a cabin environment, or close quarters, you can actually sit and talk to people, and really get to know them.
YS: And have meaningful conversations.
BC: Yeah, and then you’re able to just turn and have a conversation with the next person. I think it’s good to do that. And we played board games, and so that sort of creates a little bit of rivalries and dynamics there. I just prefer that, I think. That’s just me.
YS: I’m the same way. You know, even going out with a close group of friends, if you go out to a bar or something where it’s so loud, you can’t really talk to each other. And I personally appreciate it so much more if you’re, you know, in an environment where you can sit and actually hear each other, and have a conversation. Then you truly connect, you know?
BC: Yeah, exactly. Like, you wouldn’t go to a movie on a first date, even though people do that. I think it’s crazy. Why would you do that?
YS: Yeah, because you can’t really get to know each other!
BC: You can’t talk! You just stare at a wall with some pictures on it and you don’t learn anything with the person next to you.
YS: You just feel nervous and then you say goodbye, and then you’re just wondering what happens next.
BC: Yeah. I think I’ve learned that one.
YS: I think we all have, yeah. Awesome, well, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me, Brian. I really appreciate it.
BC: No problem.
YS: That’s it for this episode of Outback Talks. Thank you so much again to Brian for taking the time to be on our show today, and, of course, thank you for listening.
Outback Team Building & Training helps organizations across North America build relationships through memorable team building, training and consulting experiences, and our team has been recommended by over 14,000 corporate groups in the United States and Canada. For more expert advice on company retreats, visit the downloadable resources section of our website at outbackteambuilding.com to download your free copy of “Everything You Need to Know About Planning the Ultimate Company Retreat,” and don’t forget to subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher or wherever else you may listen to your podcast. Until next time! I’m Yasmine and this is Outback Talks: The Employee Engagement Podcast.