Before Christmas, I took some time off. I had a lovely break, staying on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. Little did I know that a mutiny was afoot back at Spill HQ.
Will, who looks after Spill’s brand and marketing, and Matt, our lead developer, had taken it upon themselves to redesign the Spill website. We had recently made a decision to focus on working with businesses and they wanted to redesign the website to reflect where we were as a company.
They worked over Christmas — despite promising that they would both take some much needed time off — and put together a mock website and a slick presentation for the redesign.
The week that we got back they presented their ideas under the guise of a “weekly planning session”, and I really didn’t know how to react. They had done so much over the break and were so passionate about the new design. All they wanted was one more week to properly finish the site and set it live. After a quick talk with Gavin (my Co-Founder), we decided to send them on holiday to finish the website. Words alone weren’t enough to say thank you this time.
They had been banging on about moving Spill to Morocco for a while. Gavin and I had flown out to the US and in my sleep-deprived state, they had coerced me into agreeing to let them work and surf in Morocco at some point.
We managed to find everyone return flights for £100, leaving the next day, and a really cheap Airbnb whilst they were there. Will, Matt and Maria (our Head of Product) all flew out to spend a week in Morocco. Gavin and I had meetings in London that week but secretly booked flights to join them for the weekend.
They had a great week of head-down work. It was nice to spend multiple large blocks of solid time on something without distractions. It’s so easy to get caught up in what’s going on in the office or get distracted by meetings. Being able to properly focus is almost a luxury in today’s environment of constant email and Slack notifications.
On the site, Matt did the development and animation work while Will wrote the copy and drew the illustrations. They spent a lot of time playing around with spacing and sizing, learning that these extra few hours of fiddling are what make the difference between a site that looks okay and one that looks slick.
It wasn’t all picture perfect though. They didn’t have any transport, so they were trapped in the village that they were in. And although there was a beach and a single restaurant, there wasn’t a whole lot to do for downtime. It’s a little bit how unlimited vacation tends to reduce the amount of holiday that people take; a working holiday increased the number of hours that it’s okay to work. It meant that there was a lot of work and not much surf!
Gavin and I surprised everyone by arriving on Thursday evening, literally ambushing Will, Matt and Maria while they had dinner (Maria was in on the game). We hired a people carrier so that we could drive around and see more of Morocco. It also meant that we could go out for meals in the evenings. When we were out there we had team runs on the beach in the morning and group yoga in the evening.
On the weekend we did a team road trip, driving through the Atlas mountains which was truly awesome — despite the winding roads — and ending up in Marrakech for the evening, where we sampled lots of local food. We managed to have six Moroccan teas that day.
It was a really fun getaway for the team and it taught us that in a world of MVPs and shipping things you’re embarrassed about, sometimes you need to take your time and make something you’re really proud of. And even though London is a great place to work, having a bit of peace and quiet can do everyone a world of good — with a bit of team bonding mixed in.