It’s been 2 years and 3 months since Geneva Worldwide officially became a virtual company and adapted to the challenges and changes that the Covid-19 pandemic threw our way. We recently held our first offsite / hybrid meeting with our entire staff; A lot was learned, and there is now much to unpack from this phenomenal event. This event took place less than 2 hours from NYC in Callicoon, New York at the Villa Roma Resort and Conference Center, and the location delivered everything we needed for a successful event.
Many of us hadn’t seen each other since early 2020, and for some, this was the first time meeting one another in-person, but our first get together (dubbed Camp Geneva) was a raging success! We felt it was important to have an event that would mirror similar situations we face with our interpretation services clients, so we opted for both onsite and virtual options for those that could not or did not want to travel. Similar to the many hybrid conferences we’ve helped to manage, our team has become adept project manager experts at setting up the room and ensuring everyone would be able to have equal access to the experience. Similar to the onsite work we provide for interpretation events, our project management team set up the physical space to have access to interact with virtual participants. This ensured the content had an even mix of opportunities for everyone to get together, but also enabled participants to break out into smaller groups.
The goals for Camp Geneva focused on continuing to build personal relationships, strengthening our strengths, and addressing opportunities to improve and improve the customer experience for our clients. This was a rare opportunity for us to spend time working on the business versus working in the business. What resulted were suggestions that will have a material impact on how we can better conduct our operations moving forward. We determined ways to streamline some of our processes, address opportunities to improve our company culture, and ultimately give our customers a better experience through some of the gaps we identified. Whether it was a small or large group discussion, or plenary work groups on a particular topic, the result was a large list of takeaways we are still digesting and implementing.
- Even though we remain a virtual company, there is no substitute for face to face interaction. It’s humanizing, it breaks down barriers, and in the end, boldens relationships that have been blossoming online for the past two years. Communication is easier without technology and there is more flexibility in the where and how you can meet. At least one meeting per year at a minimum seems prudent and can work to strengthen bonds and remind each other that we are more than just two dimensional screens.
Working ON the business is just as important as working IN the business.
- At the top level, the executive team is always focused on the business, but the real pain points and opportunities are identified by the company when everyone can take a step back from the actual work and identify larger bottlenecks that need to be prioritized. There is also a renewed sense of urgency and accountability when the entire team can help re-steer some of the change efforts.
Build a culture that takes care of your employees so they can treat clients with the same kindness and attention.
- We learned as a group that we are resilient, compassionate and take care of one another, and this allows us to handle our clients’ experience in the same manner. We will continue to build and strengthen our culture, but it’s clear now that continuing to value, encourage, and develop our team will improve everyday client interactions and allow us to solve their language challenges anytime, anywhere, and in any language.
Company events still need a dedicated team to manage client needs.
- We learned that it’s important to recognize that the world doesn’t stop when we decide to get together and improve our company, so ensuring we had dedicated teams and shifts to cover ongoing and incoming interpretation, video remote interpretation, translation , transcription, and CART assignments was a crucial planning component of the conference.
It’s important to have some recreation time built in to build relationships.
- You don’t really get to learn about your teammates until you see them outside of their work life and we were able to enjoy some nighttime smores, pool time, group meals together, and even a late night dance party. It’s truly joyous to see the people you work with everyday smile and let loose. It’s a great reminder that we are all different people that make up our diverse and unique company.
There is so much more to unpack from the sessions, but we have our homework in front of us and we will continue to enhance our video remote interpreting (VRI), translation, transcription, interpretation and CART offerings, while enhancing the overall client experience by streamlining our operations. At the end of the day we would highly recommend an onsite event for anyone considering the option and we look forward to sharing our insight from our next Camp Geneva.