Work hard, play harder – Switchboard Day 2019

By Karda Rolland-Berge

August 13, 2019

Teamwork makes the dream work, that much is clear. Too often businesses get wrapped up in projects and deadlines, they forget to carve out team time. Finding a day that works for everyone requires a lot of organization but the results of a team development day are well worth the numerous Doodle polls! 

A few weeks ago, #TeamSwitchboard enjoyed our annual professional development day or #SwitchboardDay as we refer to it. The purpose of Switchboard Day is to strengthen the team in order to be the best game-changers and impact makers that we can be. 

We participated in Indigenous Awareness Training to elevate our understanding of Indigenous history in Canada and ensure that we are educated in proper and respectful protocols when working with Indigenous clients.

In addition to building out our knowledge banks, we enjoyed some tasty team treats and paid a visit to the charming seals near Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver.

It is no secret that setting aside intentional time to learn, laugh and connect as a team not only fortifies team morale but can elevate company success. We chose to focus on three key areas for strengthening #TeamSwitchboard; practising cultural humility, doing something fun and celebrating our team. Why, and how did we do this? 

  1. Practising cultural humility 

When rapt in the flow of work, finding time to learn a new skill or augment one’s knowledge bank can be a challenge. Building a relevant lesson into our development day was top priority for Switchboard. This gave the team a chance to add a new tool to their belt, which they can bring to the office, their projects or client files every day.

What did we do? 

As a team, we completed Canadian Indigenous History and Cultural Sensitivity training with Nisto Consulting. Here at Switchboard, we often work with Indigenous organizations, making training in Canadian Indigenous history, culture, and proper protocols a critical specialization for our team. This training expanded our awareness of Indigenous peoples and colonial history increasing our ability to serve our clients to the utmost standard. 

BONUS: The beauty of doing this training online through Udemy meant that our remotely located teammates were able to join in. Whether in Montreal or London, they were able to participate!

  1. Do something fun: 

Dr. Stuart Brown, the founder of the National Institute for Play, emphasizes how play promotes motivation and productivity. No company exhibits this better than Google, where employees are encouraged to go rock climbing or hold a soccer match during the workday. Here at Switchboard, we know that engaging in play prompts active thinking, inspiration and group collaboration. The result of play is a lively and solid team that can get shit done – a topic of great importance to Switchboard. 

What did we do? 

Our team hopped onto a Zodiac Boat (the kind used for search and rescue teams) and by the power vested in Captain Dylan, we flew across English Bay to see everything from the Lions Gate Bridge to the Seal Colony of West Vancouver. We screamed, laughed and “awed” at the seals, and learned a thing or two about our city!

Shoutout to Captain Dylan, who bestowed an abundance of Vancouver knowledge upon us and returned us to shore relatively unscathed.  

  1. Celebrate co-workers: 

Recognizing your team members for their accomplishments enhances communication and builds cohesion. Whether it’s sharing gratitude for years of devoted work, welcoming a new team member or simply saying “You rocked Switchboard Day planning,” when employees feel recognized for their contributions, new energy fills the tank. Acknowledgement goes a long way! 

What did we do?

With new talent joining and others moving on, we celebrated with chocolate cake (of course), drinks, and showers of gratitude. We thanked those who are moving on for their contributions to Switchboard and wished them the best of luck in their future adventures. 

With any company development day comes some housekeeping. We are a team who believes in learning from every possible opportunity, so, here are some of our top tips (learned from experience) to consider when planning a team development day.

  1. Make all reservations in advance. This may seem like a no brainer, but is always number one on our list. 
  2. Troubleshoot all tech equipment beforehand. Make sure that logins work, visuals and sounds are clear, and that you’re practising on the exact devices you plan to use. Save time and frustration by keeping the focus on the team, not on devices.
  3. Make sure to have delicious and healthy food available, people need fuel! Whether it’s healthy snacks and drinks at the office or having lunch at a local restaurant (we chose Edible Canada on Granville Island). Make sure you’re supplying food that everyone can eat and enjoy (we have GF, DF, and Pork-free eaters on our team). 
  4. Create an agenda with a guide of “What to Expect” for the day. Write it out and include addresses, contacts, times, locations, etc. Depending on the activities in-store, your co-workers will want to know if they should don dress shoes or sandals.
  5. Request RSVPs. These are crucial for making reservations at restaurants, boat tours or happy hour. Set an RSVP date far enough in advance to make reservations without hassle.   
  6. Send out reminders. It does not matter how far in advance you send that invite, your co-workers have plates full of projects, deadlines and other priorities. Save everyone the headache of last-minute worries by sending out reminders 24 hours in advance. 
  7. Lastly, accept reality and enjoy! Nothing will be perfect. Lessons will be learned. Embrace things that don’t go according to plan, get creative and figure out a solution and keep on smiling. Your development day is one to relish, so relish it and above all, have fun! 

Our annual Switchboard Day is an important aspect of our company’s foundation. Why? It challenges us to grow individually and connect as a team. Adding new tools to our belts to explore and learn from allows us to do what we do best; help our clients achieve their biggest, boldest goals, so they can maximize their impact and create a better world. 

Monica Thom

Summer Student & Executive Assistant

Monica was put on this earth to work with people. From leading Compassionate Communication workshops around the world to guiding international university students through their freshman year, Monica is somewhat of a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to culture. As she wraps up a BA in both Communication and Cultural Studies and Sustainability from Concordia University, Monica looks forward to enriching people’s lives using communication and technology. 


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