The ‘Back to School’ days: why do we do it?

Published on October 13, 2023 by Charlotte Black

This week we spent two consecutive days together as a whole team, away from our day to day work. Why? The purpose of the Back to School days is to get everyone together in one room, twice a year, to connect and discuss important things going on in the business, have the opportunity to hear from everyone as well as learn from and realign with each other.

Getting everyone in one room

We work in a hybrid world. We go about our day to day working lives connecting with people here and there. We talk to each other virtually and connect in person every 3 months for a fun day out, but when do we all collectively step back and look at the bigger picture, together? 

The Back To School days are our response. It’s our chance to create those moments, share our ideas and listen to each other to really understand what’s going on within Footprint Digital, and how we can make incremental improvements each time to work better together.

What do we get from it

As a team, we remind ourselves what we’re working towards and why we are all here. It gives us the opportunity to learn from the people around us and, ultimately, realign. 

We pick specific business and industry related topics to discuss, break out into cross-discipline groups and delve into the details to figure out how our projects can run smoother, how we can better support our clients and what we can do differently to work more effectively.

This time, we also heard from our Relationship Managers David, Tom, Jo and our Client Services Team Manager Rosie, who each spoke about one of their clients to highlight what really works well. They shared their wins, some (mind blowing!) results and each of them spoke about how their relationship with their client has flourished. It’s really important to share these wins with the rest of the team who aren’t client facing, as it gives us all a better understanding of our client base and the motivation to keep doing what we do! 

Getting a fresh perspective 

It’s no secret that education is a big part of who we are at Footprint Digital. Whilst our team is made up of industry experts and we have Bitesize sessions to share industry news, we can always learn a thing or two from someone who has been there and done it…

We were joined by Mark Wright, 2014 winner of The Apprentice UK and founder of the hugely successful Digital Marketing Agency Climb Online. We learnt a lot about his journey, how he grew his team, how he works with clients, and how to really set yourself up for success, personally and professionally!

Getting a fresh perspective from somebody who really understands our industry and the challenges we (and our clients) are facing really helped us to understand where we’re doing well and gave us a lot of food for thought for where we could make incremental gains and improvements. 

Hearing from everyone

We are big fans of pointing out the elephant in the room. Every member of our team has experienced different parts of working at Footprint Digital. Some of our team have also worked in other agencies and teams. Some of our team members are in their first few years (or months!) of their career, whilst others are 20+ years in.

Everyone has something valuable to add, everyone has experiences to share and everyone can learn from the person sitting next to them.

One of my favourite parts of our Back to School days is exactly that. Giving our team the opportunity to be heard, to speak, to inspire and to share. 

It’s a journey 

Inviting 30 people into a room to talk about what we can improve can naturally invite friction, and be uncomfortable. Mark Wright vocalised this feeling by saying:

“Get comfortable with being uncomfortable” 

At Footprint Digital we operate under the ethos of ‘open, honest and fair’. It’s an important value and something we ask of our team in everything we do. Being each other’s (and our clients’) critical friends helps us grow as a team and improve what we do.

Getting it right the first time would have been fantastic, but each time we put together our ‘Back to School’ days (this was our fourth time), we learn and we improve – that’s what it’s all about. We are finding new ways to implement the outcomes into our day to day to make us work at a higher standard as a team, and for our clients.

These ‘Back to School’ days were our best yet, and the positivity and passion for our industry was palpable. I’m already thinking about how we can make the March 2024 ‘Back to School’ days bigger and better than ever before.