For our year-end management offsite, I chose Dublin as the destination. Dublin’s Silicon Docks is home to many tech giants, including Facebook and Google. It is a popular destination for expats from over 100 countries.
Day 1 – Visit in Google and Meta
Both of these companies are known for their corporate culture, which was inspired by “Sun Microsystems” and is still often referred to as the corporate culture of Sillicon Valley companies. We spent the first day of the management offsite in these 2 companies, where besides the substantive work agenda, we had the opportunity to see a lot of inspiring details of a work environment that fosters innovation.
Google prides itself on a culture of informality, encouraging creativity, innovation and experimentation. The company is known for its generous employee benefits and the 20% rule, which allows employees to dedicate 20% of their work pool to their own projects or ideas. Gmail, for example, was born out of such a project. Google prefers open spaces to foster collaboration. Even the CEO of the Dublin office, who has 10,000 people under him, works in open-space. But he also has his own private meeting room for important meetings or special visits.
Google supports education, innovation, creativity, personal development and a healthy lifestyle with benefits such as free meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner), a fitness centre and a free swimming pool. When setting up benefits at GymBeam, we reached out to our friends in Google HR and asked detailed questions about how they work, which then inspired us.
At Google, they pride themselves on diversity and inclusion, which can be seen in the example of the Dublin office, which employs people from 70 nationalities. Google focuses on innovation and problem-solving with a 10X approach, which means looking for disruptive changes instead of small improvements. AI is a key theme at the moment, e.g. the GOOGLE RETAIL API and Vortex AI, which are being used in practice to improve services. At the meeting we were presented first with general information and then with case studies of large companies describing how they use these tools. This experience gave us a deep insight into how these companies are shaping their working environment and culture to foster innovation and creativity.
Meta is distinguished by its creative and flexible workspaces. Although the Dublin office does not have its own fitness centre or swimming pool, the company provides allowances for these activities, supporting a healthy and balanced lifestyle for its employees. In addition, it offers various interesting rooms in its premises, for example with 3D printers, where employees can design and create different objects.
We saw various zones for relaxation and social activities in the Meta, including rooms for playing musical instruments, table football and billiards. These all contribute to creating a relaxed yet productive working atmosphere. In terms of company culture, Meta particularly encourages innovation and creativity. The work environment is designed to encourage open-mindedness and idea sharing, which is key to its success in the fast-changing world of technology.
Day 2 – Senior management meeting
Offsite management meetings vary in structure and frequency across companies. Companies often invite various mentors, coaches or psychologists. Our meeting was held with the participation of our colleagues only. The offsite started with my presentation, which was based on a revenue forecast for 2030 that we calculated using statistical models. I interpreted the results to my colleagues and defined the markets where we have potential. In the second part, we addressed the company’s costs and also quarterly and annual targets. We talked about the major changes we are about to implement and also the major investment projects that are coming up in the near future.
1. International expansion strategy and market share development in the countries where we operate;
2. The organization’s goals for 2024;
3. Logistics development strategy in 2024 and the coming years;
4. Budget 2024 – top line;
5. Hiring plan 2024;
6. Budget 2024 – introducing changes in reporting, budget line items and budget elements for 2024;
7. Budget 2024 – overview of major cost developments and brainstorming on resource allocation.
I found this meeting very beneficial as it provided a unique opportunity for a mutual understanding of what the individual team members are working on on a daily basis. It allowed for an exchange of experiences and provided a different perspective, leading to a better understanding of the company’s overall goals and challenges. In this way, everyone involved can better understand how their work contributes to the broader goals of the company, and how they can collaborate more effectively across departments.
Day 3 – Retreat
On the third day of the offsite we visited the Cliffs of Moher and the city of Galway. The aim was to provide an opportunity for team building and a break from the working environment. The Cliffs of Moher are one of Ireland’s most significant natural wonders, located on the west coast of the country in County Clare. The cliffs are approximately 8 kilometres long and reach a height of 214 metres above the level of the Atlantic Ocean. The city of Galway is famous for its culture and history. Leisure activities allow team members to get to know each other better outside the work environment and thus strengthen team cohesion.
As part of our trip, we also visited a Michelin star restaurant called Glovers Alley. At the Arlington Hotel on Celtic Nights, we watched traditional Irish dancing while enjoying a great typical Irish dinner. Our visit to Dublin wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the famous Guinness Brewery, where we had the opportunity to sample a variety of Guinness beers as part of our tour. The last item on our itinerary was a visit to Temple Bar, the center of Dublin’s nightlife.
I am convinced that when my colleagues will take stock of their time at GymBeam in the future, they will remember these moments. The world is not changed by corporations or brilliant individuals, it is changed by perfectly aligned smaller teams of competent people who trust each other and share the same values. This combination of working meetings and informal interactions will contribute significantly to more effective collaboration and the direction of the company in the future.