In April, half of our office will be pacing their way through the hills and climbs of RNR Madrid, a series of long-distance runs that’ll take them past some of the most incredible sites in Spain: the Plaza de Callao, the Puerta del Sol, the Museu del Prado.
The other half will be cheering them on from the sidelines.
The Switch Trip is back.
Why are we going to Madrid?
We’re a Malta-based company. Our employees (and our clients) come from all over.
Every year prior to COVID, our Switch trip was purely a way to unwind, get together, and rejuvenate our creativity. We’ve been to Provence, we’ve seen the sites of Lake Garda, and we’ve walked in Amsterdam, and now, our team is going to Madrid – but not just to relax. Like everything else in the company, the purpose for our Switch trip has changed a little.
We’re lucky that our team building efforts have survived the pandemic. The work that we put into nurturing our company culture has grown, and with it, so has our team – so our trip to Madrid can be focused on more than just team-building and creating a tighter connection between the people that work here. We can look at working with an ICOM agency in Spain, strengthening our connection to the network. We can look at improving ourselves: the race isn’t just a way of filling up the time.
Most importantly, we can work on making the company adapt to what was initially our biggest challenge: becoming international.
Our clients aren’t the only ones located around the world. We have team members that moved out of Malta and relocated to Finland, Spain, Brazil, and elsewhere (‘Where in the world is Ernesta’ is a fun game to play every so often). To make sure that we can support our team with the same dedication as we put into supporting our Maltese team, we have to know what that support needs to be.
We didn’t set out to go to Spain just because one of our team members is there. It helps to understand the culture that our employees now live in, but the idea of travelling to a different country is to equalise the experience for mostly everyone. Only a single member of the team doesn’t have to travel long distances: the rest of us have a plane trip or two to make our way there.
What will we do in Madrid?
On ourselves. On our team. On what the company means to us. On how we can become better than what we were last year. This is the kind of work that we take on year-round, with the difference that the entire team hasn’t been together in one room since before the pandemic. In the interim years between then and now, we’ve changed, and that change hasn’t been fully understood. Bringing us all together in one room will help see where our team is going.
From Luke, our head of marketing: “Since we went fully remote, we needed to figure out how to keep the feeling of community we’d built over the years in our office. The Switch Trip is one obvious solution, but tying in a group goal such as the marathon is really helping us come together and support each other – even those who aren’t actively running. It’s also a bonus that our efforts to reach a 4-day week tie into it – without those Fridays off, a lot of us wouldn’t have the time or energy to train. It feels like a win-win-win.”
This started with Rik, who took up running in the pandemic.
We still don’t know what happened after. Ed started running. Luke started running (again). Laura runs for fun. Thomas, Lisa, Kathleen, Melissa: they all took up running in a bid to join the 10K marathon that would take place during our trip.
If you haven’t kept up with Rik’s newfound love for running, we suggest you start here.
And as for our runners in Madrid, here’s what they have to say:
Camille, on Madrid: You know those Monday-morning conversations you have with colleagues where you chat about what you did over the weekend? In the past my co-workers could never understand why my best weekend memory was waking up at the crack of dawn to participate in a local road race, or spending two hours on a long run. I’ve been running consistently for 10 years and now I can’t believe I’m working with a group of people who enjoy running as much as I do!
For me, the Switch Trip is really special because we’re all working individually on a shared goal. Training for a race is demanding, and it requires dedication, persistence, and drive. Although running is a solo sport, we’re doing it together and I can’t wait to hit the starting line in Madrid with these oddballs.
Lisa, with a pragmatic view, says: I needed an excuse to get me to start running and hopefully get to the stage where I enjoy running. It’s still a work in progress but I’ve bought very expensive shoes now so there’s no backing out.
In agreement, Tom says, “The promise of group encouragement was too good to refuse. I’m terrible at keeping fitness regimes going so the thought of having to show up in Madrid and run a half-marathon with most of my colleagues was the perfect spark to light that fire under my arse.”
Ed adds, “every step is a surprise. Surprise that this ancient body can still propel itself in a direction for two hours and not fall to bits. Seeing a bunch of people on the Switch team participating is an added incentive to keep piling on the miles and to keep myself in the condition it takes to lace up a pair of shoes and race.”
Ernesta, who’s seen nearly the entirety of South America by the time we go to Spain, says, “signed up in solidarity – might regret it later.”
As for the non-runners, there’s a clear reasoning behind what they’re looking forward to:
Melissa says, “I have never been as excited for a Switch trip as I have for this one: it’s the first time in 3 years that all the team will get to be together in the same place at the same time. This is also the very first time that some team members will get to see each other in person. And to top it off, some of us are going to run, like, literally run in the form of exercise and not because of a zombie apocalypse.”
Naomi adds, succinctly, that she “does not run. Will not run.” However, she’ll be at the sidelines cheering on the runners, with a coffee in one hand and a croissant in the other.
Luca states, “I’m just coming for the croquetas,” and Ġanna adds in vermouth and tortilla de patatas.
Maria, on a sweeter note, says, “the fact that I am going on my first trip after becoming a mother with all of you, I don’t need to say anything else! I can not wait!”
Food and fun has always been the peak of what Switch experiences are like. Now we have running to add to the mix – and a lot of lessons we’ve learned over the years to put to the test.
But it doesn’t mean we’ll be different people there.
Switch has always remained, at its core, a company of strange people who tell good stories. Madrid gives us a chance to round-robin those stories in one room, rather than through the hyperconnected leylines of the internet.
We’re looking forward to it.