Balancing work and play at the Spotless Away Day

24 October 2017
Caroline Butler

Caroline Butler

Spotless Alum

Creator of meaningful interfaces, services, and experiences

The Spotless team are back in the office, back from our annual Away Day where we’ve spent a few days together planning, learning and socialising in the comforts of a large country house.

Away days can mean many things to different people. Like Marmite, some people love them and some people hate them. Away days can elicit a wide range of opinions and perceptions. The thought of awkward team building exercises, watching your boss dance like David Brent or the enforced fun becoming an HR issue – are fears that everyone at Spotless was keen to shake.

Luckily to say, I’ve survived my first Spotless Away Day without any of these fears being realised. The three days out of the office were the perfect combination: a great location, continuous learning, fun, food, prizes and slippers. A lot of employee-centred research went into the planning. It was no happy accident that the Away Day was a success.

Great location

Getting out the office for a few days enabled us to focus and relax. Being cocooned in a country manor gave us the time and space to make progress on internal projects, learn new techniques, share knowledge and spend time getting to know one another on a deeper level. Without the normal working distractions of phone calls and emails, we were able to leave any preconceived ideas at the office.


Always learning

We are a diverse bunch and have skills across many sectors and disciplines. The away day was a great chance to learn from one another and introduce any new tools and techniques.

In the format of short workshop sessions, we covered many topics. To maintain interest and keep the group dynamic fresh, the workshops were varied in size and involved team members with different areas of expertise. We covered topics like how to interrogate a client’s brief, ways to improve our drawing skills, communicating insights, generating ideas on what makes a good service and developing our onboarding experience for new employees. We generated lots of actionable outcomes, including ways to expand our existing tool kit, such as developing our Spotless method cards.


Fun, food and prizes

Luckily ‘fun’ wasn’t a timetabled activity. No pointless team building exercises, like herding ducks into pens. I bonded with my team through Karaoke and hanging out in the whisky room. Most of the enjoyment was generated in the workshops. Facilitators worked hard to ensure the sessions were engaging, relaxed and well planned with clear objectives and outputs. There were lots of opportunities for collaboration, with enthusiastic participation from everyone across the business.

In between the workshops, there were plenty of opportunities to indulge in our favourite activity: eating. Over the two days, we indulged in homemade chocolates, pizza and a curry that induced an en masse food coma and an early bedtime.

As a team, it’s great to celebrate our successes. On the final night, we celebrated the imminent arrival of Marianne’s baby with a baby shower. We also had a prize-giving ceremony that recognised how amazing the team had been over the last year and during the away days. There were a variety of awards on offer, some recognising work achievements and some recognising individual talents such as being the most caffeinated person during the away day or being a big fan of eating chicken. I was really chuffed to get the prize for being the most creative.

What did I learn

A lot of research and planning went into the organisation of the Spotless Away Day. Nour and Marianne did a fantastic job at successfully pulling it off. A big thank you to them both for their hard work and dedication. We are already looking forward to next year’s event, which will be bigger and even better.

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