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At the heart of CAS Trips lies a commitment to cultivating a unique organizational culture that transcends the typical workplace dynamic. Recently, we embarked on an epic workaway event in the Czech mountains. This experience brought us together not just as colleagues but as a close-knit team, exploring the depths of collaboration, personal growth, and the importance of balance. 

The immersive week allowed us to delve into workshops, team-building activities, and shared experiences that are the backbone of our company’s ethos. We would like to invite you to join us as we unfold the layers of our workaway event, sharing insights, memorable moments, and the profound impact it has had on our team.

Memorable moments of collaboration

Our Operations Manager, Kamila, reflects on the team’s various challenges during the event. 

“There were many moments when the team had to collaboratively solve issues we normally do not have to deal with – from preparing a bonfire while it was raining to fetching a forgotten backpack minutes before leaving for Prague. However, one of my favorite moments was the Cooking Challenge – discussing the menu with the small team and then preparing a meal for others using only equipment the accommodation could offer required a lot of teamwork and improvisation.”

Valuable insights from our workshops

For Neil, our Program Director, the most valuable aspect of the workshops was understanding different working styles and their application to daily responsibilities. 

“Working with and alongside people is integral to everything we do at CAS Trips – and our internal team is the most important part of the machine. So, coming together in an open forum allowed us to understand each team member from a broader perspective. It was essential for our team, who works remotely, as nearly all our interactions occur digitally. Taking the time to ensure we are all on the same page and understand each other’s communications and working preferences will no doubt benefit us well into the future.”

Strengthening team dynamics

Callum, CAS Trips Director, observed the positive evolution in team dynamics and cohesion as the week unfolded. 

“The level of engagement during the workshops was a pleasure to watch, and it was invaluable to witness the team better grasp each other’s roles, motivations, and experiences. Working in a hybrid environment, and with a considerable part of the team remote, we are in danger of becoming silos and not considering the big picture and greater purpose as we go through our daily tasks. The level of comfort and familiarity with each other was wonderful to see. The level of understanding of what we are trying to achieve as a company and how we go about that from start to finish was tangible.”

Effective team bonding and personal growth 

Our Operations Assistant, Sabina, highlighted the effectiveness of the workshops in promoting team bonding and personal growth. 

“I felt the team bonding most during the workshop with Sarah, as the rapid pace pushed us to collaborate quickly, and we had to rely on each other to come up with answers. But I still believe that genuine team bonding happens naturally, in moments without assigned tasks, during walks in the forest, late-night discussions, and shared cooking experiences.”   

Likewise, for Kristyna, our Professional Development Officer, the chance to witness everyone in a completely different setting and to collaborate was significant.

“For the cooking challenge — even though head chefs were selected for each group, it was amazing to see different people rise to the occasion and take charge of different parts of the cooking process. All the meals were delicious, and each team’s collaborative process seemed natural and unforced.  I think every single person showed immense talent both in teamwork and in the knowledge of different cuisines.”

Operational changes inspired by workaway insights

Lamija, our Destination Manager, reflected on the impact of workshops on operational changes. 

“I found all the workshops very helpful as they further deepened my knowledge of CAS Trips and its ideals. It was wonderful experiencing the team brainstorming ideas about different service activities and different service partners. The ideas we came up with during that session will be constructive for the operations team to improve our program further.”

Unwinding and connecting with colleagues 

A new member of our team, Lenneke, Operations Assistant, was grateful for the opportunity to connect. 

“This was my first time meeting everyone, so you could say everything was a surprise to me. In general, it was just great to see and connect with everyone in a home setting and see how everyone interacts socially. I’m quite introverted when I first get to know people, which can sometimes come off as uninterested (which is not my intention). After this week, I also realized that a lot more other people feel like this at the beginning. That is a comforting thought.” 

Likewise, for Sarah, our Global Student Exchange Director, the atmosphere of the week and its role in fostering team connection was a highlight. 

“Spending one-third of your time at work means that not only should you feel accomplished in what you’re doing, but you should especially feel welcome and motivated to improve. The workaway week atmosphere fused many “mini gaps” between my work and personal life. I felt it helped shape the face and heart of the company and team that we are becoming through cooking challenges, fireside (sauna and jacuzzi) chats, and constructive workshops.”

Humorous anecdotes to look back on 

Eléanore, our Operations Assistant, highlights the levity the week brought to the team by sharing a humorous anecdote from the cooking challenge.

“Cooking for 11 people is tough! You want to ensure you prepare enough, but not too much, to limit waste! You must also find dishes that will satisfy everyone, working around different (sometimes contradicting) dietary restrictions. It pushed us to be creative and well-organized, and I think everyone did amazing. One thing that still makes me smile today was when Neil introduced his team’s lunch, which was Thai-inspired. Full of energy and conviction, he started with, “Welcome to Vietnam!”. He had been working so much on a Vietnam itinerary before, and his mind was still there.”

For Dominika, our Destinations Manager, the cooking challenge was also a memorable one. 

“Each team had to collaborate to create meals inspired by their assigned countries. From selecting a recipe and creating a shopping list to dividing up cooking tasks and adapting to challenges, this activity reflected the teamwork and problem-solving skills that CAS Trips aims to instill in our student participants. Not only was it a chance for us to sharpen our collaboration skills, but also an opportunity to come together as a team to prepare and enjoy a delicious meal.”

Reflection of CAS Trips’ mission going forward

In the ever-evolving landscape of educational travel, the insights gained in untraditional work settings, exemplified by our workaway week, help us keep things fresh. Founder Simon encapsulates CAS Trips’ distinctive approach in one powerful statement: “We care.” 

By fostering collaboration, unveiling individual talents, and embracing the human side of our company, such unconventional settings challenge us to think outside the box, encouraging creativity, innovation, and a deeper understanding of our team’s potential. In a world where meaningful connections and genuine care are the cornerstones of success, these workaway events propel us toward a future where the intersection of humanity and professional growth comes together. We are already looking forward to the next one!