This CEO Takes His Employees Abroad for an Entire Month Every Year
If you’re reading this odds are “travel more” is high up on your bucket list. However, like the rest of us, you probably have a few day-to-day responsibilities that get in the way. Namely, a job.
But, what if we told you your job didn’t have to prevent you from seeing the world? All you need to do is a land a job at Mentimeter, an interactive meeting tool used by 30 million people worldwide. Why? Because each year Mentimeter’s CEO, Johnny Warström, moves the company to a new country for an entire month so his employees can soak up a new culture and bond even deeper as a group.
“We just got back from spending a month in Palermo, Italy, soaking up the sunshine and the ornate decor at La Bella Palermo, a stunning 14th century seaside palazzo where we both worked and slept,” Warström shared with Travel + Leisure. “From its baroque interiors and extensive art on display, to its [harbor] views and many [cozy] nooks to convene and work, this Sicilian gem was quite a feast for the senses, and served as a another inspiring location for Mentimeter’s relocation program.”
Each February, Warström moves the company around, but the relocation process starts months before. The key, he said, is to find a location that is innovative and forward-thinking with a culture and environment that inspires employees, but also a warmer place where the Sweden-based company can escape to during the cold winter months to seek fresh inspiration.
“We ensure that the whole team is involved in the decision-making process, and employee feedback before, during, and after the trip is an essential part of making the relocation program such a success,” Warström said.
A major reason for the move is to not only allow for more inspiration, but to also allow the employees to experience a new culture through group activities and ample free time.
“The team is good at initiating activities that are based on their own interests but also making sure that these are open for everyone to join,” he said. “For example, in Palermo, we [organized] various activities, from food and wine tours, hiking trips, to spending a Saturday night at the opera.”
Beyond play, the team also visits places to get a better understanding of customers in the area and their own corporate cultures, which both improves their working relationships and allows the company to take in a new perspective.
One would think all this free time would lead to employees slacking off, but according to Warström, the exact opposite is true.
“A change of scenery is a breath of fresh air, and can definitely be felt in the team’s engagement,” he shared. “Most significantly, in how they collaborate across different teams. We can see the value of shared experiences having a direct impact on business results. From every retreat I see how we come back a more efficient team with numerous innovative ideas that wouldn’t come up in normal week at the office.”
And really, Warström is onto something. As T+L previously explained, a study by Rice University in conjunction with Columbia University and the University of North Carolina, showed that living abroad increases “self-concept clarity,” which means those who choose to live in a new country or move about often tend to have a better sense of self than those who don’t.
All of this movement leads to one great outcome: That better sense of self and a shared experience so deep that work now feels like play.
“Living together in a new city, as a team, nurtures a positive company culture that sees employees both trust and have confidence in each other. Through shared experiences, our social bonds with colleagues improve and our working relationships improve significantly more than they would in a traditional workday at home,” Warström said. “True to the cliche, relocating for some time allows you to see things from a fresh perspective, and that can hugely benefit the creative and analytical minds in a start-up. This can lead to new product ideas, resolutions of problems on which we’ve been stuck, and so much more. Also, it’s a lot of fun, and when you’re having a good time at work, your work improves.”
Want to join them? All you need to do is apply for a job before they depart somewhere new in 2020.