Maintaining Deep Connection at Work – 5 Key Takeaways from the Next Matter Offsite

Tassilo Karunarathna
November 23, 2020

The Next Matter virtual remote offsite had no official theme this year.

However, after two intense days filled with inspiration, action, and introspection, the team identified the theme through a mutual realization of what has been missing for so many companies in 2020: deep connection with each other.

How do we reach that feeling of connection when a traditional offsite with in-person workshops, fun team-building activities, dinners, and bar conversations cannot be held?

Here’s our key takeaways:

First, you have to create the space for real conversation.

The week of the offsite, I was looking at an overflowing inbox (which not even Superhuman could conjure to zero), a full to-do list of “regular” business tasks, and some last-minute offsite preparations to handle as well.

I felt the impatience and nervousness, but just kept running to get things done. For a brief moment, I thought: maybe this offsite wasn’t such a great idea to take on right now.

Well in truth, there’s never been a “perfect time” when the world just magically stops around you, and everything work-wise is somehow clear and done. Hard as it seems, it’s best to forget about “work” for a little while, and commit to fully-focusing your attention on the exercise of the offsite.

And by committing to pressing “pause” on the day-to-day rat race of growing a company, we created the opportunity for another kind of learning and growth to take place.

This pause button allowed us to have real conversations as a team, unrestricted by the limitations of a daily work schedule, or a 60-minute video conference with a preset agenda.

And that kind of conversation is highly valuable.

Secondly, we are physical beings, and connection doesn’t come from the conversations alone – you need some sort of proximity.

Fortunately, technology (Oculus Quest 2 headsets and Arthur virtual meeting room) allowed us to host meetings in VR, a refreshing contrast from the usual video calls.

There we were, fully emerged in a futuristic conference room – standing, presenting, listening, and interacting, unshackled by on-screen distractions and gadget notifications. Huge thanks to the Arthur team who made that possible for us with their expertise.

One co-worker described it as “a thrill to be connected, closer than anything we could achieve with the standard video settings“.

Thirdly, dedicate time to get inspiration from the outside.

Necessity is the mother of invention, and if we want to leave the planet in a condition that is worth living for future generations, we have to start acting.

That’s the mantra of Ciarán O’Leary, General Partner at BlueYard Capital, a guest speaker at the Next Matter team offsite.

Ciarán took us on a journey of transformational ideas that decentralize markets and empower humanity. That vision includes companies like Next Matter, whose technological contributions are just one part of a more sustainable “Future of Work” for a happier and healthier workforce.

Felix Wagemann, COO of HelloFreshGo, also got the team excited talking about HelloFreshGo’s smart fridges, a clear upgrade to the standard office lunch experience, even during a global pandemic.

HelloFreshGo runs smart fridge servicing operations on Next Matter, so for the team it was also an opportunity to see their hard work translated into clear customer value.

HelloFreshGo runs smart fridge servicing operations on Next Matter, so for the team it was also an opportunity to see their hard work translated into clear customer value.

Fourthly, to work well together, you need to practice more than your technical capabilities.

It seems like a simple observation, but it’s remarkably easy to forget in the haste of packed daily schedules.

Svea von Hehn from Return on Meaning drove us through a Meyers-Briggs workshop, helping us to establish a shared language that we can use to communicate better with one another, and learn to appreciate the differences we have on the team even more consciously.

Finally, everyone needs to spend time together – not only those who work together all the time.

We’ve all worked on initiatives to break down silos in our careers, but even in a football-team-sized company, it happens that some colleagues won’t talk to each other for a full week – sometimes even a full month.

It’s vital to identify those silos, and to the extent possible, figure out how to break them down. The full potential of the team can only be realized when the opportunity arises to capture “other” perspectives that you wouldn’t get from your everyday work interactions.

So we’re devising a strategy to make those opportunities happen, consciously and regularly.

Onward to a more-connected work experience

Did we also look at where we stand as a company, the competition, the product, and our strategy? Of course we did.

But what will be remembered more is the deeper connection that we built as a team coming together, and leaving now more in touch with one another.

At Next Matter, we’re building a better “Future of Work” for operations teams around the world.

And while doing so, we’re learning every day how to thrive on that journey, as a team and as individuals. This year’s offsite was a very important part of that.

About the author
Tassilo Karunarathna is a lifelong optimization enthusiast. GTD, Kon.Mari, you name it. He has lived that passion during his previous career as a management consultant when doing digital transformations for both corporates and digital pure players. Say hi if you spot him biking through Vienna with his family of 6.

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