The Retreat Report, March 2023

Jean Lizza
March 20, 2023 Lizza, Worklogic’s Marketing officer reporting from beautiful Bowral, NSW

Each year, the Worklogic team embark on an annual work retreat. With consultants based in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia, it’s a rare opportunity for our diverse and talented team to get some valuable face time, along with an opportunity for team building exercises and of course, some delicious food.

For the first time in Worklogic’s history, the Sydney team played host for the Retreat. After flying into Sydney, we piled into a few Kia Carnival’s and made our way to the New South Wales highlands. I described it as ‘man from Snowy River country with a touch more class’. The drive to Bowral included majestic rolling hills, valleys and some very impressive houses.

The grounds at Peppers- Craigieburn, Bowral

The theme for this year’s retreat: Collaboration

Worklogic has been a hybrid workplace for some time now, long before the global pandemic changed workplaces forever. Collaboration, knowledge sharing and team work are an essential part of the culture and is what makes Worklogic a unique place to work. The opportunity to all be in the same room and exercise our collective collaborative muscle through team building exercises and vibrant discussion were very rewarding.

When I reflect on what makes a good retreat, I am reminded of former Worklogic Director Grevis Beard’s helpful article: Eight Suggestions for a Successful Workplace Retreat. One of his top tips is being inclusive of what employees prefer and are interested in. Prior to the retreat, Directors Jodie Fox and Jason Clark consulted with the staff and took on suggestions on approach to make sure that the retreat reflected the interests of the staff. Grevis suggested that by doing so, you avoid planning a retreat that is stale, out of date or a chore for staff.

Day 1

We arrived in Bowral in the mid-afternoon after a leisurely drive from Sydney. While some of us took the chance to hit the local op shops, others walked to the Southern Highlands Botanical Gardens, and some even managed to pay their respects at the Donald Bradman museum.

Our venue for the retreat was Peppers- Craigieburn, Bowral which boasts old style majestic lodgings with sprawling, manicured grounds and is excellently equipped for a work conference as well as a country getaway.

In the evening, we were served an extremely hearty 3 – course meal which ensured that when I plonked down on my bed that night, I was out like a light!

Day 2

Everyone loves a buffet breakfast! I enjoy them so much, I had two breakfasts…

Rolling into the conference room, I was struck by how rare and nice it is to be with my colleagues, some who I only see in-person once a year. The staff have such diverse work backgrounds and each member brings a unique perspective to the conversation.

Hybrid workplaces and working from home is so beneficial for a multitude of reasons but I am reminded that by coming together in-person, every now and then, it has the potential to reinvigorate and refresh. A MUST for good workplace culture.

We kicked off the first session with an update from the Directors about how we are faring as a business in terms of growth, opportunities and trends. Transparency is a valued principle of the company, and the team are briefed at the monthly all-staff meeting about how the business is growing and changing.

Prior to working at Worklogic, I had never been privy to the behind-the-curtain workings of the businesses that I contributed to. Not only does it alleviate any fears or concerns one could have (especially during a global pandemic) but also it assists me to do my job better.

After the tea break, Associate Director Angela Seach took us through a teamwork exercise that required us to break into groups and work together to make appropriate decisions in an emergency situation. Angela revealed that the exercise was a bush fire simulation- after playing us a video with key information, the teams were provided with a list of items that we needed to prioritise.

The crucial decision of whether to pack up the car and make an escape or stay and fight the fires was key but what was more important was how the team worked together and communicated. After we submitted our answers, we were tasked with a survey of our experiences with the team.

It was a fascinating discussion as Angela very skilfully broke down the data. It was interesting to see what decisions people made, based off the information. The takeaway was how clear communication, where everyone is heard is vital when making decisions in an emergency.

Angela’s session was one of my favourite sessions of the retreat. Not only was it fun but I learnt a lot too. (Get your Fire Plans together people!)

The Worklogic team after our fantastic team building exercises

After lunch, the team from Pinnacle Team Events arrived. This part of the Retreat was veiled in secrecy but were assured prior that no mountain climbing or abseiling would be part of the event!

We were broken up into teams and tasked with a range of problem-solving challenges such as ‘build a structure out of straws and tape that will protect an egg dropping from above’.  The challenges forced us to work together and make decisions about the tasks at hand. I must admit to doing a fair bit of head-scratching during some of these challenges so I was grateful for my enthusiastic and bright team members, grabbing the bull by the horns.

For those people at school in the 90’s, the challenges reminded me of Tournament of the Minds, which promotes creative problem solving.  

For our final challenge, the Pinnacle team, which includes a bike mechanic, asked the groups to build a bicycle from scratch, with some basic tools and instruction cards. The challenge wasn’t about who built the bike the quickest but how the team worked together. They also alluded to a bike race at the end which fired up some of our more competitive staff!

At the end of the session, we were asked to present our completed bikes. The Pinnacle team revealed that bikes were for some very special people- like a TV show reveal they walked in a group of Year 1’s from the local primary school! These kids were the recipients of the new bikes. The team at Pinnacle events partner with local organisations so children from diverse backgrounds can benefit from our team work session. 

What an incredibly moving moment! There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Far better than a silly race 😊 Thank you to the Pinnacle Events Team for a great afternoon of problem-solving challenges.

Day 3

I managed to remain calm during the breakfast buffet and limited myself to one hearty cooked breakfast on the final morning!

For our last day, the directors presented a session on what some of the long-term goals are for Worklogic’s brand building. The team or ‘brains trust’ are consulted with when it comes to long term planning and approach. The Worklogic directors have always understood that the staff provide great insight and out-of-the-box creative thinking when it comes to the business and are interested in hearing those ideas.

Breaking into groups, we were allocated an area of the business and we discussed what works and what we can do better. It’s exciting to discover the backgrounds of my work mates and how those specific experiences can benefit the company.

After the final session, we grabbed out packed lunches and said our goodbyes. As we drove away from the beautiful NSW highlands, I was struck by how much I learnt about collaboration. Our time in Bowral was informative, fun and even moving.

In an ever-increasing hybrid world, I would encourage all businesses and managers to make time for staff wellbeing- providing staff opportunities to be together and learn. Even if a retreat isn’t on the cards, a well-organised pizza party or afternoon tea can be so beneficial to team culture and shows your staff that they are appreciated and cared for.

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