This morning our founding team celebrated another rewarding and interesting year together. With a walk.

This has become something of a tradition for RecruitLoop to close out the year. We’ve now shared two in Sydney, and had our first in San Francisco a few weeks ago.

We walk outdoors, in nature, early morning for roughly 2 to 4 hours. Some people might call it a hike. The pace is enjoyable, not overly exerting. At the end point we share a meal and (some of us) a glass of champagne, to recognise and celebrate the year spent working incredibly hard together.

There are no speeches or formalities. We try to avoid talking shop. Just spend some time together in beautiful surrounds outdoors.

Some people find this a weird and/or interesting idea. I thought I’d share why we do it.

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Team Sydney overlooking Harbour mouth

Why we walk

For the past two years, this walk has taken the place of a more ‘traditional’ boozy Christmas party or long lunch. Why would anyone want to avoid such a long-standing and oft-regretted hallmark of the silly season? Several reasons:

It fits with our culture.

We’re an active bunch who place an incredibly high value on health and wellness. We each do this in our own ways, but I’d say it’s almost a defining characteristic of our team of 7.

We like spending time outdoors. And importantly, there are several non-drinkers among us.

Some companies seem built around a culture of drinking and associated camaraderie. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s not us. That’s not to say a few of us don’t enjoy a delicious glass of red or a long lunch. But shared time outdoors seems a more appropriate and inclusive way of celebrating the year as an entire team.

It’s quality time, away from work.

We spend a LOT of time together. Mostly in or around the office, focused on work. When you get outside, somewhere seemingly remote, a strange thing happens. We don’t talk shop!

For a few hours we’re not checking emails or smashing out tasks, just connecting as friends.

There’s no hangover or awkward moments.

Year-end parties can be fun. But we’ve all seen the standard drill. Someone drinks too much, says something stupid or inappropriate. Either way, everyone wakes up feeling worse than when they started.

A side benefit of a morning walk? We leave feeling better than when we started.

We live in two of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Sydney and San Francisco are phenomenal cities. Water, coastline, mountains, warm climates. Few other world cities can claim such a range of natural beauty within 30 minutes of downtown.

We’d be crazy not to treasure these places.

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Team SF by the coast

Future Steps

We’ve committed to keeping up the tradition, and may look to expand it for semi-annual or quarterly getaways.

As we continue to grow, there’s a few things I’ll be thinking about:

  • How to incorporate the entire team, when we’re split across 3 continents.
  • How the format evolves with a larger team.
  • Whether we can include partners.

And obviously, how to avoid danger and possible death. That’s no fun for anyone.

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Thanks to our awesome team for a fantastic 2013. Looking forward to a massive 2014.