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Giving Thanks for Parse.ly Team Retreats

What does “giving thanks” mean to you?

Maybe it’s the turkey, the travel, or the “still sitting at the “kids” table” aspect of this holiday.

Regardless of which slice pie you end up with (pecan! pumpkin!), we can all agree there is something to be thankful for, whether it’s family, friends, or maybe even something at work.

Here at Parse.ly, we’re thankful for our bi-annual corporate retreats.

Our usually distributed Parse.ly team most recently converged offsite to Charleston, South Carolina. These retreats allow us to re-align our business focus, hack away at our flexible platform, and improve our team dynamics.

We love these opportunities to help employees re-connect, socialize, and most importantly *work* with rare face-to-face time. Interested in how we make the most of our time during these retreats? Here’s the best practices we’ve found, and highly recommend for other business retreat-planners.

1.) Plan a schedule and prepare for sessions before the trip.

Want to get the most out of your employees’ time together? Follow the boy-scouts lead, and always be prepared! Picking sessions, creating presentations, and having a schedule really allows our team to focus and dive into details right away. It also allows us more free time on-site for activities, because no one is scrambling to make a presentation the night before!

What were some of the best sessions at the Parse.ly retreat? The hackathon took top prize, and led to ideas for future products, features, and marketing ideas. Cross-discipline sessions, where the business team got to listen into engineering concerns or the product team gave feedback that could help sales and customer support communicate value better, were also well received.

A session during the Parse.ly retreat. 

2.) But stay flexible with the plan.

Be honest. Week long retreats won’t ever stick to a rigid, immensely structured format. It’s important for these offsites to operate a bit more loosely as sometimes things just don’t go to plan. One way to organize for this is to “schedule” free time and open sessions. As the team gets more fired up, occasionally “extra time” is taken to finish more work, and before you know it: one of your favorite sessions isn’t happening!

Scheduling in free time, or free sessions will really help alleviate any stress you may feel as a result of things not going as “planned.” Remember, it’s okay to reorganize the agenda if need be, as putting a limit on productivity isn’t beneficial for the morale of the group or the strength of the organization as a whole.

Parse.ly employees take in the South Carolina sunset.

3.) Be thankful for customers!

Remember that while bonding, socializing, and hacking are great for your team, you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t have customers, and you won’t continue to be around if you don’t keep those customers happy.

So while it’s beneficial for teams to be passionate about a certain feature in production, it’s most important to remember that this retreat is ultimately for our community: our clients and users. Will they care how or why the feature was created if it isn’t something they find valuable? (This is something to remember back at home or in the office too!)

Now that all of our team is back at home with their friends and families, we’re saying “Thanks” to our blog readers, our email subscribers, our customers, and each other. Because that’s what this holiday is all about, right?

Happy Thanksgiving – from the team at Parse.ly!

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