Looking back, as a business, Lexden was like many others, we typically recruited as much on proximity to our learning hub as we did on capability. It seems strange to admit that now looking at current colleague’s varied geographies, but back in the early noughties it was the convention. The rationale being to the benefit of employees and minimal travel time, so they are refreshed when they arrive at the office and get home sooner to their families. Plus, what we do requires humans to interact and solve challenges, and Skype (which I think was the main remote offering) didn’t cut it. We would drive, train, or fly to workshops and training sessions at our clients’ request, after all, they were all in large offices too. It’s the way it was.
When the pandemic hit, the rules changed. We needed to still collaborate and work together, but from where we were when we woke up, not after we’d travelled. For Lexden this coincided with a project that would take us to over twenty countries, often working simultaneously on opposite sides of the globe. We repurposed how we did, what we did. We didn’t want to abandon our core focus or our purpose, we just reimagined how we would achieve it.
As soon as the proximity dropped from the criteria, our vista extended, and we were able to see 1) how we would fulfil global projects more expediently and 2) we had a significantly wider pool of CX talent to select from.
How Lexden CX went global
So, to 2023 our team is now based in Argentina, South Africa, UK, Switzerland, Netherlands, Georgia, Poland, Monaco, and Malta. Not only this, but two colleagues have been able to feed a travel bug and travel throughout Europe this year and not miss a beat, a meeting, or a deadline.
And whilst we have travelled several times to many countries to deliver workshops, and meet clients and their customers, most of our engagement with organisations in over twenty countries has been successfully delivered remotely. So, we do actually meet each other in various parts of the world, with workshop materials or recording devices. And as nice as it is to catch up it’s still with a project goal in mind.
But it has led to a realisation that there is an aspect of our working life which is impacted by being confined to a screen or occasional workshops. And that is what it means to break away from our work and connect with colleagues as complete people in their own worlds. The unquestionable gains of remote working are significant, but we have lost the quality time we used to spend going to the football together, heading out for a run to start the day, enjoying pub lunches, sharing home baking, and even attending each other’s birthday celebrations. It would be fair to say, most of us took these for granted. But now we realise this was the glue that kept us connected beyond the job.
At Lexden CX, we talk about going ‘beyond business’. So, we need to work hard to keep the togetherness alive and looking out for each other, whilst remote. We have several ways to do this which led to a decision to organise an annual meet-up (our Octoberfest) and binge on being together outside the working sessions.
And that’s where Alice comes in. We chose Oxford for two reasons:
- airport proximity for colleagues made travel agreeable, and
- we wanted to find a location our international colleagues are likely to have less explored.
Lewis Carol is a son of Oxford University, so Alice in Wonderland features heavily in Oxford and so it became our theme too.
Planning was key because we wanted to retain the closeness we’ve established remotely, and opted for a couple of large, serviced apartments so we could eat and relax together, rather than living remotely in hotel rooms. One colleague asked if his wife and young child could travel as well, which we welcomed and accommodated.
We brought a kitchen’s worth of food for all to feast on for breakfast, lunch, and snacks. And we organised a variety of activities. So we were able to graze.
As you can see from the pictures below. We also had a chance to discuss some important topics, such as what we enjoyed working on, how we take our not-for-profit venture the Customer Experience World Games forward, we learnt new self-projecting skills, had a wisdom session from our most experienced colleague and discussed where we are as a company and where we will go. We also exchanged gifts with a variation of silent auction and Secret Santa, we shared foods from various countries and discovered a lot more commonality between us than we realised before the meetup.
Most importantly we discovered everyone, beyond the Zoom, was the same person. It’s this openness and authenticity which brings us together and helps us grow. And with ‘Mad Hatter Gin cocktail making’, ‘Alice escape rooms’, posh nosh, and a pub quiz we worked on our curiosity mindset as well, which as we know is a major customer experience behaviour to master.
And when it came to saying goodbye, I for one didn’t want to. This was our, ‘working on ourselves’ time. We got out what we put in, and everyone did put in, from excellently facilitated working sessions through to clearing each other’s coffee (and mate) cups up.
The intention is to make this a regular feature in the working year. Where we venture next year will be planned in the new year, but 2023 will always be a special one. If you are working remotely, make time to reconnect as people first and colleagues second. I am very fortunate to work with a bunch of extremely talented people who make every day a working wonder, with or without a white rabbit and a tea party.
Posted by Christopher Brooks, Head of Lexden CX