Staff away day. Team-building exercise. Regardless of the terminology, it is a concept that strikes fear to the soul for many. Okay, that’s somewhat hyperbolic. Maybe. Nevertheless, if the model of such a day is familiar to you from your own place of work, you’ve likely had mixed experience of such events. They can be slightly cringey: a day when you’re forced to pretend to be best buddies with colleagues you normally only interact with via email and play silly games intended to help you ‘gel’ with one another when you’d much rather be tackling all the *actual* work-related tasks mounting up on your desk, whilst you’re off doing who-knows-what.
Not so at Restore. (Sorry. I’m not being intentionally smug. Much.) For starters, our team is small enough that we typically see each other and have face-to-face interaction at least once a week. Even more remarkably, we enjoy doing so! That said, we often feel like ‘passing ships’: so many of our team have roles that require them to be out and about, it’s rare to spend much time beyond our weekly staff meeting all together in one place. As such, a team-building day (such as the one we had last month) when we are required to spend all day in each other’s company is not a hardship; but rather quite the opposite. For those of us who are office based, it’s a chance to get away from our desks and out into the community. For others who are used to travelling from place to place to meet with residents, or carry out property maintenance, it’s an opportunity to clear the calendar of to-do lists or appointments and have a day away from the ‘frontline’ of Restore. For all of us, it’s time to spend with colleagues, working towards a common goal, reminding us that – even when we are back to our normal, much-varied, day-to-day roles – we have a shared mission: to provide homes and give hope to those in York who have experienced homelessness, and to do so for the glory of God.
So, I hear you ask, what does a team-building day at Restore look like? Well, we start with food. (If you take one thing away from reading this as a way to improve your own experience of staff away days, let it be this: everything is better with freshly baked cinnamon rolls!) This year, Becki and Christian took charge of team breakfast, with something for every dietary requirement and preference. Once we had all eaten our fill, we moved to a time of prayer, worship, and Bible study, led by various members of the team. We then departed the office for a local (non-Restore) residence that needed a team to tackle its garden. We had been asked to take this on courtesy of the Besom Project, which exists to “help Christians and churches in York to give to those in need within their local communities.” A before and after shot of the garden is shown at the top of the page. We cleared weeds, we painted fences, we cut back shrubbery. And all the while, we chatted, joked, laughed and generally enjoyed spending the whole day together.
The working culture at Restore is different to any other place I’ve known: even just meeting to pray together at the start of every working day speaks volumes about the fact that we are – first and foremost – a group of Christians who are united in serving God together. It may sound trite, but working at Restore really is like being part of a family. The level of care and devotion we show to our residents is mirrored in the way we support one another as colleagues, friends and fellow believers. Moreover, we are better able to help our residents precisely because we care for and support one another.
If your experience of team-building days is less positive than the halcyon image provided here, then perhaps a common goal would help make the experience more palatable? If so, why not encourage your colleagues to consider hosting a fundraising challenge as your next team-building activity, in aid of Restore? We have some great ideas for teams in our fundraising pack (click here to download a copy) and participating in a charitable endeavour is a fantastic way to increase team unity. Whether you do a sponsored car wash, or a walk, or host a promise auction, the knowledge that you have spent a day as a team helping raise funds for a local charity, which in turn helps those who have fallen on hard times, will certainly provide a sense of achievement and (hopefully) boost team morale.
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