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BizTreat in Thailand: How we Designed, Planned and Organised a Company Retreat for Sketch Post

“This week, we woke up early for yoga and that was a very nice slow awakening. It’s great being relaxed but still being hard-working and do things that are mentally and physically beneficial.” Bernie Quah reflects on her BizTreat experience. 

Bernie, founder of SketchPost came to us a few months ago sharing with us her goals for her company and for her team for the coming years. She wanted to increase employee engagement, grow her business and bring new solutions to the market.

Sketch Post is a unique small business operating in a creative consulting industry. They’re the best in their field in South East Asia and many global counterparts look up to them. Referred to as graphic recorders, this creative bunch can be seen at events, making them more fun and memorable by visually recording everything important that happens. Their job requires a brilliant ability to quickly wrap their heads around the new subject at every event and to translate what is often a very technical and sometimes quite dry content into stories that will become memories and knowledge. Emotional intelligence, confidence, awareness, focus, creativity are just some of the tools that the SketchPost team carries in their kit. How awesome! We thought.

Learning more about the team

As soon as we got a chance to talk to the Sketch Post team, our initial impression from talking to Bernie was confirmed. Wow! What an amazing bunch of talented people! An immediate thought that popped up was how much fun we were going to have in our workshops with these sketching and drawing pros in the room!

“I came into this feeling quite optimistic about what was going to happen because even when we had our initial discussion with you we were already pinpointing what we wanted to focus on. So I was really excited about the trip.” Eliot Lee

Before we embarked on our trip to Thailand, which was the destination of choice after considering the Philippines, Bali, Sri Lanka and Malaysia, we spent a month doing user (employee) discovery and planning work. We wouldn’t plan a retreat without it. It always helps us better tailor the experience to suit the team’s culture, needs, preferences, individual profiles and budget. 

“Working with BizTreat has been very simple – we began by discussing my ideal end goals I had for this retreat. BizTreat helped us with all the logistics, choosing the right place, activities, designing the sessions – that has been very valuable because when you’re running a business you don’t have time for those things and all those little details matter.” Bernie Quah

Defining the scope of the retreat

With Sketch Post, we quickly understood that the majority of the team members were introverted and had several powerful traits that connected them. That was what we decided to build on. From the research and from having a few follow-up conversations with the team about their objectives, we knew that the team members got on well, but there were new hires who needed to be yet integrated into some of the key roles in the company, there was a tendency for people to work in silos due to the nature of their work (sometimes they get sent to events alone or in pairs) which is reinforced by the fact that the company is distributed in a few locations. There wasn’t a significant revision of their workflow done yet, since, as many other startups and scale-ups, they’ve been focused on getting things done. Lastly, as the team wasn’t really used to the formal practice of self-development, there were awesome opportunities to find everyone’s strengths, understand how these would work together and establish a healthy people development routine for the future. Bernie also really wanted to look at how we could use having everyone’s attention and the quality time in one inspiring location to initiate innovation-focused conversations for their business.

“All the touch points our company wanted to address were looked into during planning by our facilitators. At the retreat, it was great to address our physical, mental, spiritual and business health at the same time.” Bernie Quah

The grand plan

We figured that the retreat needed to cover three key areas: Empowerment, Project Management & Collaboration and finally Product Innovation. This was quite a lot to cover while ensuring that everyone also walked away from the experience feeling rejuvenated and nourished. Agreeing on the retreat theme and goals not only ensures that there is a purpose to work towards but it also helps with choosing the right activities, instructors and eventually with moulding the whole experience together.

“I actually experienced a mindset shift from before the retreat and now after. Thanks to all the exercises and activities we’ve been through. So many things that we learned about ourselves that we didn’t know. It’s been really good.” Vanessa Leong

The BizTreat way

Our way of designing experiential learning experience differs a lot from traditional events. It is a lot more integrated. We believe that this is precisely what helps us get so much done and ensures that our clients walk away with a lot of value. Literally, every single activity needs to support the learning goals, including the places we travel to, the workshops obviously, but also the choice of the physical activities, their timing and even the breaks. With this retreat, we decided to involve two instructors per theme, to outsource some of the local activities and logistics to our partners, and to interchange physical and mental exercises throughout each day.

It’s on!

We had 5 days to play with which was perfect for a retreat. The first day was a travel & arrival day, hence we wanted to make sure that the team got a proper chance to disconnect from where they came from and fully arrive in what would be their home for the following week. After picking up this cheery bunch at the airport, we teleported them to lunch at the beachfront of Hyatt Resort with lush garden, pool & ocean views, and of course, delicious Thai buffet.

A couple of hours later, we dropped our guests in the spa, which gave our team a chance to bring their luggage into the villa and make sure that their new home, instructors, learning materials and welcome packs were ready for their arrival. We ended the first day in the comfort of the villa, to which we got our dinner delivered. While munching, we went through the program for the week and introduced a few key concepts & rules of the game that was to follow.

Every day of BizTreat is dedicated to one theme. This helps us ensure maximum focus, presence and natural continuity of learning. First, we addressed the employees’ individual development through Empowerment sessions. That helped us to proceed seamlessly towards the application of these individual strengths to how to best work together in the context that’s specific to Sketch Post on day two. We looked at the problematic areas of the current process and came up with ways of improving them. 

“Working on our workflow was really rewarding. The most valuable moments were when we realised that all of us were experiencing the same pain points, even though from a different angle, we were all experiencing the same problems. That brought us closer together. We kind of knew what we wanted to do but having it all laid out helped us make those decisions really quickly. I think we’re all really excited about how those changes are going to work.” Eliot Lee

The innovation day brought all our work altogether. Everyone felt empowered, aligned around the process and ready to contribute to the future Sketch Post in the innovation sessions. For many people, this is a new exercise because innovation tends to be reserved only to certain departments, however the best way to honour employee’s contribution is to involve them in shaping the future of business.

Rapid innovation with Alex Petersen

“Coming together and brainstorming new ideas to help Sketch Post develop made me feel really hopeful about the company.” Maya Schmidt

“All of us being here together has been empowering. I volunteered for activities because  I saw the sense of urgency and immediacy and I wanted to play my part in the whole transformation. It will be good for me as well.” Vanessa Leong

Our not-so-small retreat toolkit

Amongst the tools we used were tailored yoga sessions, inner voice channeling and intuition empowerment, psychometric testing, sightseeing trips, cooking class, workflow mapping, challenges and opportunities identification, ideation, prototyping, boat trip, water slides, cycling, agile coaching, radical collaboration experiments, stand-up paddleboarding, purpose setting, 10x advantage identification, pumpkin plan, fun ice-breakers, spontaneous laughter opportunities and of course, documenting of the whole experience.

“It’s been beneficial seeing that we are stronger together than working individually. It’s been great seeing that people want to work more together so going forward, we will incorporate more of that.” Bernie Quah

Walking away with value

Eventually, we ended the retreat on the last day with a retrospective, planning and prioritisation session to ensure that everyone walked away knowing where to go next. 

“I have to step up more and take on more responsibilities for the sake of things running smoothly and the company growing. I want to try new things and expand. Especially now when everyone is enthusiastic.” Timothy Chua

“Now, we all know what the problems are and there is a clear pathway for the solutions, too. We are ready to get better and go beyond what we thought was possible.” Bernie Quah

Making the learning stick

Speaking of retrospectives, that’s one of our all-time favourites so let’s talk a bit more about that. At our retreats, we organise a quick retrospective session at the end of every day. We always use slightly different questions. This allows us to get a temperature check to see if anything could be improved instantly and whether the experience could be improved as we go. It’s incredibly beneficial for the learners to reflect on what they experience on the day, especially with events like retreats, when a lot happens in one day. Retrospectives are a great trigger to help people become more introspective, to drive their learning more, which is what is very much supported by journaling practice.

“It was good to self-reflect not only on Sketch Post but also for myself. To see what came out of that. It helped me think more about what I need to do to overcome certain things.” Maya Schmidt

Do you even journal?

Journaling is the last thing I’d really love to share a bit more about because we find it incredibly helpful. At our retreats, everyone engages in journaling twice per day, in the morning and in the evening. Our journal questions are tailored to the specific retreat objectives and schedule. It’s an independent and very personal practice which proves to be a brilliant way to support people in going deeper into their learning and in accelerating their growth. If you’re curious about what a journal template like this might look like, you can get a copy of in our Resources section.

“It is important for us to go back to our journals and reflect on how we felt during the week and how are we going to accept the changes that were done during the week.” Bernie Quah

Happy ending

To wrap up, we couldn’t have been more delighted to be hosting Sketch Post at their very first retreat. We are always incredibly honoured to be a part of any teams’ learning journeys as it’s always great learning for us, too. Big thanks to our team who made this whole experience possible and unforgettable for both Sketch Post and us.

If this got you excited, you can hear more from our instructors who we interviewed after this retreat.

Alexander Petersen talks about the benefits that the company retreats can bring to businesses. Alex lead the product innovation workshop for SketchPost.

Alex Goldyn discussed the benefits of yoga in the workplace through its power to build a better connection to self and others. She guided Sketch Post on the whole retreat journey with tailored yoga sessions every day.

Do you have your own retreat learnings to share or discuss? Would you like to learn more about how we can help you and your team? We’d love to hear from you! Comment below the article or get in touch with us at

“BizTreat is for anyone who wants to get to know their team better and at the same time solve problems and pain points in their company in a very non-threatening environment.  I think that taking the stress out of the experience really helps everyone feel like there’s no hierarchy, when it comes to bringing in new ideas, and it helps to be further away from our usual place of work, experiencing a new environment, that almost communal I think. It really helped us to break out of our 9-5 head space. I would definitely recommend it.” Eliot Lee

Big thanks to our team of instructors, coaches, mentors and guides who made this whole experience possible and unforgettable for both SketchPost and us.

Working Without Borders: Tips And Tools For Building Effective Distributed Teams

If you’re in the process of implementing remote work for yourself or for your team, you have come to the right place. In the last article, we focused on demystifying what makes work efficient and the conditions for quality relationships in the workplace. Here, we’ll provide tools and practical advice to leverage the new context that distributed teams offer. Instead of trying to replicate the traditional office, let’s look at how to use new conditions to improve the overall work experience for both businesses and individuals.

1. Working around the clock

One of the first questions that people think about when setting up distributed teams is a time schedule for work – who is available and when depending on their time zones and preferred working hours. Having people join the team from different locations can be approached in two different ways. One is expecting that everyone will adjust to the prevailing majority or to the boss’ working hours. Another one is to discuss everyone’s working hours and preferences during the hiring process. Instead of expecting that the hired team simply adjusts to the project owners’ preferences, it is fairer and more useful in the long-term to discuss everyone’s working preferences and style of work during the hiring process.

Here are some factors to consider during this process:

The advantage of having people in different timezones is being able to implement relay style of working. One can continue working on the project from where the previous person ended. Some project management styles e.g. Kanban use this kind of working system to improve efficiency.

Trust and mutual accountability enhance the process with everyone taking ownership of their tasks and helps others achieve their tasks.

Team members can agree on alternating shifts to make sure that a particular person isn’t continuously disadvantaged due to their timezone. This builds the sense of collective gain through collective pain, instead of concentrating the difficulty on either of them.

Most of the communication in the team can be done through calling and instant messaging. Modern communication tools have been designed to be fast and flexible, which often makes them replace email or physical meetings.

You might have come across work messaging services such as Slack, HipChat or Discord. In a physical office, these often prevent people from having to get up from their chair to discuss issues in person. But for distributed teams, it’s a different story. Creators of messaging tools realise that today’s workforce is moving away from company headquarters and that people are moving closer to wherever life’s happening. Hence we have communication tools that support precisely this shift.

Tips for handy apps for distributed teams

Wherever you are on your journey to effectiveness through collaboration, an unlimited set of tools and technology designed to improve remote work have been trending recently. We would like to share a few of our favourites with a hope that you might find them useful:

Project management: Trello, Asana, Jira, Basecamp

Communication: Slack, Zoom, Hangouts, HipChat, Discord

Design: InVision, Mural, RedPen

Software development: Atlassian tools, Github, Gitscrum

Virtual whiteboards: Real-time Board

Copywriting: Penflip, Google Docs

Time recording: Toggl, Hours

2. How can milestones help everyone?

As a business owner, imagine that you only pay people when they deliver the agreed outcome. As a contractor, imagine knowing exactly what you’re being paid for and focusing on just that. Days of pointless sitting in the office just to clock some hours are long gone.

Paying per project encourages people to be highly motivated, with less procrastination. This helps people to get work done effectively and then they can move on to other things.

The milestone approach has the potential to increase the quality of work delivered and save precious resources. Working on the basis of project/milestone fees allows workers to become better acquainted with the velocity of their work. It helps them to better estimate the cost of their time. A set sum of money paid at the end of the accomplished task, or in several installments paid upon delivery of sub-tasks, gives them a sense of security, which may not be common in freelance work. Yet in some relationships, parties prefer to engage on an hourly basis or they use a combination of milestones and hours. This makes sense particularly with tasks and roles that cannot be precisely measured in chunks of output, e.g. advisory and management roles.

3. Establish your team’s purpose

It is important for any team to clarify purpose and everyone’s roles. In the previous article, we discussed the need for clear communication. In distributed teams, it is imperative that everyone knows their role and isn’t left hanging, on their own. That could cause alienation and hinder progress. Defining team purpose and the individual’s role in the team is actually a brilliant opportunity for everyone to know that their contribution is vital. Working on purposeful tasks helps to increase productivity and engagement within the team. Having a clearly defined role will come handy when tracking and evaluating performance and helping people grow and optimise team composition and processes.

4. A small team is a good team

The effectiveness and efficiency of smaller teams need to be cultivated. As teams get larger, the focus on each individual gets divided. Some may think that more people working on a project is better for collaboration. But the opposite is true for teamwork. Decision making, collaboration, and communication are at the centre of an effective work environment, and smaller teams are the best to promote this.

Here are some important factors to consider when forming teams:

The two pizza rule for teams is brilliant for maximizing the effectiveness of teams. The idea is to limit the size of the team to a size where you can feed them with just two pizzas; limiting the size to within eight members or less.

When teams get too large, you face the danger of groupthink and other factors that act as an impediment to effectiveness and freedom for individual contribution.

In remote work, we have no room for further alienation from our team members because we’re already far apart from each other. That’s why we need to work in a way that brings us closer, not further. Therefore, having a small team is the way to go.

Numerous studies that date all the way back to 1931 (The Ringleman Effect) up to recent times (The LEGO Study) show that smaller teams make for more efficiency than larger ones.

Working from home, working from the comfort

Many speak about the work-life balance. But to create a balance means to compromise between two seemingly competing sides of a spectrum. How can we do so with work and life literally merging in our homes? We may spend our free time replying to work emails and our time in the office browsing social media. This trend has been growing during the last two decades as technology has taken such a leap. This has brought us to the place where we must rethink how the two can coexist seamlessly, feeding off each other, rather than competing against each other.

It’s not natural nor healthy to divide ourselves into work and life. Years ago, when the industrial age came into full bloom, we drew a line between work and personal life and we associated work with lots of negatives like the regime, obedience, control, and mistrust. As we isolated working hours and the workplace from the comforts of our home and our personal time, we moved into cities, and even closer to artificially built industrial zones. That’s how it remained until today.

Studies cited by Harvard Business Review and Forbes prove the benefits of working in a place that we enjoy and where we can also pursue other activities that are fulfilling to our lives – such as socialising with family and friends, exercising, and spending time outdoors. The benefits are mainly in the domains of efficiency, productivity, mental and physical health, and wellbeing.

There isn’t however much proof of daily commute being beneficial to our lives, or the four corners of an office being particularly stimulating or inspiring. In fact, these are certainly negative factors that keep us from productivity in our work.

Many of those who have adjusted their way of living, including reimagining why, how and what they work on, benefit from working on things they enjoy in places where they feel comfortable. They are able to both produce valuable work and live their lives. It’s not a surprise that often these are closely intertwined.

Find more inspiration about leadership, management, and wellbeing in the creative age visit BizTreat’s Youtube channel and our website

Working Without Borders: 3 Key Rules For Working Effectively In Distributed Teams

It was just a while ago that we switched our weekly meeting to a group video call. On that call, we had two people meet with us from other countries. We also collaborated on three different documents shared over the internet. Since that call and the first couple of documents shared virtually, we have grown into a fully distributed team, having colleagues in Australia, Philippines, Singapore, London, Prague, New York, and Columbia. We use a number of software that helps us get things done and collaborate effectively. 

 What started with that confusing first call between a group of people who wanted to gain more freedom at work, was, in fact, the first building block of a strong team. A team that’s working together seamlessly, feeling connected, yet far away.

Distributed teams redefine everything that dominates traditional workplaces. In doing this, they pave the way to reimagine what we consider to be efficient work. This concept rethinks the very basics of work including working hours and pay. It spills deep into the motivation and purpose of the team.

Fears and opportunities

The number one fear that some point to is that this experience won’t sufficiently replicate the physical office experience. But that’s actually not even the question here. Why replicate the old when we can approach the same space from a completely new perspective?

Many still think of remote work as secondary, limited or supplementary. Companies are struggling with the needs of their employees wanting more family time and seeing it as an obstacle. Employees prefer to work from the more comfortable environment of their homes rather than the four corners of an office. Many are starting to realise that working in open spaces isn’t as beneficial as they expected. Furthermore, the mass migration to cities for work, which we experience in the Industrial era is starting to lose its appeal in today’s age.

Virtual work actually offers huge advantages in the following ways: it helps us to access talent regardless of geography, it allows people to work where they feel most comfortable and as we’re going to argue in this article, it gives the opportunity for new, more mature kind of work relationships built on communication, efficiency, and trust rather than control.

Principles of collaboration

 Let’s explore how to open the door to new opportunities through remote work and explore ideas on how to save time, money and to achieve effectiveness and productivity in teams.

1.    High trust

The foundation for success in any type of teamwork is trust. When people are not meeting in person, they might encounter the impressions of a “black box”. This gives us the feeling that we lack the knowledge of how others are handling their tasks. In an office, we tend to get the impression that having everyone under one roof ensures that they are all being productive.

Being physically present doesn’t ensure complete focus and engagement. In both cubicles and shared offices, people may be completely disconnected from their work. How many times have you find yourself mind-travelling outside the office and need a breather while having to keep sitting in that chair?

Mutual trust in the fact that everyone is able to manage their time, energy and abilities is the beginning of success. When there is mutual trust, here is what happens: Individuals work with autonomy, people take responsibility for their tasks, and results are achieved. At this point, everyone matures and cooperates in a professional manner. 

When trust is low, control is high. This makes leaders micromanage and patrol the halls. But when trust is high, leaders give the people space to do the work they need to do. This alleviates the micromanaging and controlling nature of leaders and allows the employees to work with a greater sense of freedom, which also allows more creativity. This requires team members to realise that their time and abilities are assets they transfer to the employer and that they are responsible for their most efficient use.

2.    Communication and asking for feedback

When employees fail to clearly understand what is expected of them, it will cause delays in the whole project. In situations where everyone works alone, it is impossible to satisfactorily complete a job without understanding the assignment. Nothing can be hidden or swept under the carpet. On the contrary, there is a need to define, agree and share work in the virtual space with transparency. Most of all, the owners of the project must explicitly express what they are after. 

In this case, there’s never enough communication and it should come in many forms. Already in the early stages of our work, it’s beneficial to share our work in progress to get feedback and to make sure that we are on the right track. 

Effective communication should take place verbally, both in written form and through visual demonstration. 

3.    Less time working brings more results

 Efficiency is indirectly correlated with time. The less time we spend doing our work, the more effective we become. Of course, we may not optimise everything towards efficiency, but it is important to point to the stereotype of fixed working hours and the waste of energy and time due to the expectation to be always available and always ready.

In shared offices, we are more likely to be a subject to micromanagement and distractions. We deal with meetings and colleagues, who are entering our space during the course of the tasks on which we need to focus. Because of this, the time we spend executing a task extends radically and we’re more susceptible to making mistakes.

Certainly, it is possible to mitigate some of these problems by working remotely. When trust and communication are optimized, we have the conditions to work when we are most productive and where we work best. Why not empower our teams with such efficiency? If we want to achieve efficiency apart from these factors, it is necessary to re-evaluate how we manage our own energy in relation to the work we perform.

When we need a break, we can be stimulated by taking a walk, playing a sport, having time alone or with family. It is important to have the opportunity for such diversions. After such a transition, we usually return to work with renewed enthusiasm – we are better attuned, more involved, empowered with new ideas and energy which fuels our creativity.

If you are considering remote work or you are partly working this way, you will definitely deal with questions about timezone, pay for work that is not done in the conventional 8-hour intervals, team management, or the specific instruments and tools that allow you to fully leverage the newly-discovered freedom and to make this freedom available for your team as well. 

In the next post: We look at various factors and tools that help us to be efficient when working and collaborating remotely. 

Design thinking on the beach

How we solved a real world challenge at a company offsite

Company offsite. The idea of a week spent working from a beach house sounds more than appealing. But before you swap your boardroom for an ocean view in a hope that your team will produce magic over pitchers of sangria, you might want to consider the following. Company offsite is a very real investment opportunity. It’s capable of generating more value and impact than the whole year of working around the clock, when done right. The trick is to turn the distraction-free, focused time of your team into the best innovating, creating and learning exercise of your life – while having fun. All you need is to equip yourself with the right set of tools and a few how to’s. There is a getaway. And then, there is a getaway with a purpose.

We’d like to share a case study about supercharging a business opportunity for our client – combining powerful techniques, facilitation and inspiring environment – and tell you how you can do it too, in only 5 steps. 

Defining the challenge

Only a few months ago, we run our pilot retreat program inviting a handful of businesses to join for free. On top of building BizTreat’s proof of concept we had the privilege of hosting a variety of global companies. Having been thrilled about running the pilot in our home location Siargao island, we decided to tackle one of the local business challenges – a fundraiser for Filipino surfers to help them compete in international surfing competitions.

company offsite

Surfing is a huge deal in the tiny island of Siargao. In fact, only thanks to surfing the island has roads, beach resorts and direct flights from Manila today. Despite all recent developments and increased popularity of the tropical paradise, local islanders still suffer from the tag “developing society” and rightly so. No matter how talented and motivated to surf the local kids are, majority can’t afford more than sharing one surfboard amongst 10 of them. Despite this hardship, few local surfers were lucky to attract sponsors from resort owners in the island and train daily. First opportunities to attend surfing competitions opened up and humble Siargaonons made it to world surfing league rankings.

There is nothing more encouraging for a closely knit community than success of its members. The local surfers became legends. They would serve as a point of respect and they gained authority as ambassadors for issues from environment protection to healthcare to well-being to sustainable tourism. Their voice would be heard on the island and beyond. That opened up entirely new world of possibilities for many. We were curious to learn how this magic could be reinforced.

Getting everyone on the same page

First step was helping everyone align towards the goal and ensure collective understanding of the challenge. We achieved this by drafting a project charter. After outlining context of the case study, Ian Sermonia, owner of Harana Surf Resort defined our goal: “We need to raise 320k pesos by May 12th, so that our four surfers can be sent to competitions in Sumbawa, Roti and Taiwan.” Certain activities to achieve this goal were already under way. Ian and few other key sponsors managed to get a handful of local businesses and individuals on board and they planned out a series of fundraising events in Siargao. Yet, as it often is with operations running at the speed of light and daily tasks pouring in, Ian and the stakeholders kept wondering. Were the right opportunities being leveraged? Was there anything else that could help hit the target?

design thinking

As soon as we began talking about the audience of this project, an apparent gap emerged. It became clear that there was an underserved opportunity in terms of people who had interest in supporting this type of good cause in Siargao, but who were not physically present on the island at the time of the locally organised events. Having brought together a combination of experts in business analysis, social media, community management and nonprofit management really helped connect the dots and open up the opportunity space. Our main mission became a better definition and understanding of who the potential contributors were and how to attract them. Opting for a user-centred design research was a no brainer.

User-centred design on the beach

We devised a quick battle plan made of drawing customer journey mapdefining personas and running customer interviews. This helped us get away from linear thinking and begin thinking in mind maps and connections as often promoted by IDEO, the home of design-thinking approach. The initial activities helped us to understand who the audience was, where it was coming from, how these people were thinking, what media they were using, what their interests they had and so on. Lots of useful pieces of information and inspiration for coming up with ideas how to best attract this crowd. Right after a fresh, locally sourced fruit salad we sank into a rapid ideation exercise. In a 20 minute session we managed to produce over forty ideas for accelerating the campaign. It was time for everyone to decompress in a yoga practice.

After the yoga, we gathered the whole group again and synthesised the results of everyone’s work, which immediately emerged as newly defined opportunity areas for Ian and his team to take away. The focus, which people put into the workshop transitioned into excitement as we were wrapping up and talking about implementation of the new ideas. People were committing on the spot to help with individual pieces of the campaign, that’s how thrilled they got about the ideas they achieved to produce themselves and with their peers. General sense of impression around the ‘looking at things from a different perspective’ and the actionable results it produced was felt among the attendees.

“The insights we got from the other people in the retreat were very diverse due to the fact that everyone came from different walks of life and had different expertise. The setting, being at a beach side, hearing the waves wash to shore and feeling the gentle sea breeze on your face helped in coming up with creative solutions. Definitely out of the box experience. Productive and fun at the same time!”

Ian Sermonia, Harana Surf Resort

As a final note, you’d be pleased to know that many of the ideas generated at our workshop were applied in the months that followed. The local surfers are now competing all around Asia and the wave of stoke is spreading throughout the island with every successfully ridden wave.

Our experience faciliating offsites on the beach has motivated us to consolidate useful tips for planning and organising offsites. Check them out in our next post 5 things to consider when planning a company offsite.

Before 5am

Richard Branson once said that waking up very early in the morning was key to success. When I first heard that, I was almost ready to give up on being successful. Then I experienced a sunrise surf for the very first time.  

I would look out the window, my eyes still half asleep, and the sound of morning birds singing through the air. I would then dart for the beach rain or shine, grab the vax and put a layer on my board to prevent from slipping. It was as easy as that!

Driving through Catangnan village early in the morning feels like travelling through a completely different place. The village is usually very vibrant in the evenings, full of chatter, the smell of charcoal-grilled fish and homemade spices filling the streets, kids running from one side to another, dogs barking at anything and everything. But early mornings in Catangnan are different, inhabited by only a few people here and there wearing humble smiles as they open their stores. The life and energy of Catagnan returns in full force when you get to The Boardwalk. The local surfers are never quiet. “Chana, chana!” Let’s go! It’s only 5am and yet they seize the day with not a minute to lose, their spirit and excitement nothing less than inspiring.


It’s happening. The sky begins to brighten . The late evening blues turn to a pinkish orange brushstroke on a nightly canvas. The sun peers through the clouds and its warm rays inject life into your veins. Feeling the morning sun on your skin when walking on the boardwalk is life-changing, it leaves you feeling rejuvenated and recharged.

Our steps lead to the tower first to check the waves. How’s the swell? How many seconds period? How are the waves breaking? Ready? Chana!

As I move through the water the coolness merges with the warmth of the pacific sun, my gaze fixed on the challenge ahead, a wave rising and curving on the horizon. I begin to strategize my first surf with a fresh perspective: plan, execute and prevail.

Before 5am

This might seem like any other morning workout in a beautiful environment. But it’s only 7:30am! And guess what? I’ve already managed to surf, have my bowl of fresh island fruits and go through today’s work plan. On top of it all, I feel energized, active, awake, alert and the soothing yet exhilarating sunrise surf has left me ready to take the day by storm. Organised and motivated, I’m ready to get started! And if that isn’t the perfect recipe for productivity, what is?

Your Guide to Working Life

The world of work is full of trials and tribulations. Everyday office challenges can be scary, unpredictable and both emotionally and mentally taxing. That’s why companies everywhere need to equip themselves with the knowledge, tools and confidence to overcome the daily grind, whatever it may be. BizTreat Blog is a space created to provide just that. 

BizTreat’s island-based philosophy is conceptualized entirely on what it means to survive in a difficult environment. Imagine living on a remote island. What kind of everyday challenges would you have to deal with? Navigating working life isn’t any different. The Future of Work promises us radical changes in jobs and in the way we’ll manage human capital. That’s why we combine intelligence from both the environments and immerse you in smaller, more remote places and their cultures while also offering you access to conversations with global experts on innovation in productivity, performance and creativity.

Why that combination in particular?

Our mission at BizTreat is to constantly enhance workplace dynamics, however we also love exploring areas and activities not commonly associated with work. Our passion for and our philosophy on productivity and creativity-based work life is just as inspired by travel, sports, entertainment and spending time with our close ones.

Whether you’re considering joining our retreats that unite these elements, if you’ve previously attended a retreat, or if you’re just looking for a little bit of inspiration, we’re thrilled to welcome you to the BizTreat Blog! A place for sharing waves, case studies and knowledge – essentials of a healthy work culture of the future.

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