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Post title image: Six non-obvious rules for booking a small team stay

Six non-obvious rules for booking a small team stay

Things to think about when you're planning on getting the team together.

The Future of Work

At Ashore, we don’t need to be sold on the power of getting people, or teams, to a new place.

I’ve seen first hand the insights that can be unlocked, the decisions that can be made, and the problems that can be solved when you take a step back and think.

I also get asked about the things that we think are essential to a team stay, and what should be at front-of-mind when planning one.

The basics are relatively obvious, but there are few slightly left-field ones that I find myself mentioning quite often. So I thought I’d write them down.

Eat great fish

First, when it comes to choosing a location, everyone goes straight to talking about nature.

That’s definitely important - whether it’s an early morning swim, or a walk through the countryside - spending time away from the city will help unlock great things.

But I think the design of the home matters just as much as well.

In Jiro Dreams of Sushi, the eponymous Jiro, when asked about how to create tasteful things, answers by saying:

“In order to make delicious food, you must eat delicious food. You need to develop a palate capable of discerning good and bad. Without a good taste, you can’t make good food.”

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I think this applies not only to the act of making sushi, but to building anything.

It’s why we only work with design-led homes, believing that being surrounded by great design, helps us all to work better, and build more beautiful things.

The space you’re in matters: make sure it's a good one.

Make space for space

Often where work stays fall down is that people under-estimate the value of personal space outside the working day.

There’s nothing quite like everyone crowding round a new demo in the living room, but when it comes to downtime, space matters.

It’s why at Ashore we generally suggest single occupancy per bedroom, and obsess over the number of bathrooms in each of our locations.

You don’t need to choose between the power of a new place to unlock great work and the desire to keep personal-and-professional boundaries.

In the right space, you can choose both.

Isn’t it nice when things just work?

In most things in life, we accept kit matters. You don’t run a 5k in dress shoes. Nor go up a Scottish Munro in jeans and a t-shirt. Yet often when it comes to work, we’re happy to let it slide.

There are a few things that you can bring along (or that we provide as standard in our homes) that lead to real outlier value (think post-its, whiteboards, pens), but our expectations now are so high, it’s worth thinking a little bigger.

You’ll generally have moments where someone in the group needs to drop out for half an hour and get something done: you need workspaces for that.

Or take screens. Being able to share and work on a google-doc live, or cast something whilst presenting, are massive productivity hacks.

But you should think about going further: often someone might drop out, or there’ll be someone who you think should really be a part of this session.

But just opening up a Mac and putting them on a Google Meet channel doesn't really work when the microphone is designed for a voice one foot away, not to cover a whole room with six people in it (to solve that you need something like a Poly Studio R30, available upon request in all our Ashores).

Expectations around technology get higher and higher every year.

Take me. Once I had to pull out a six metre long cable, unplug the phone, and go through a quite laborious AOL process to access the internet.

Now, I am consumed with rage when my home mesh network drops out for ten minutes or so once a week.

Accept that’s the case nowadays, and make sure you’re surrounded by things that just work.

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Keep it flexible

Generally, when you get the right people together, in a great space, the magic is going to happen. So I wouldn’t sweat structures and plans too much (bar the proviso in my next point).

We generally find that there are three major stay archetypes:

Just figure out which bucket your stay is in, find a location accordingly, and don’t think much more than that.

People are adaptable, serendipity is a thing, and everything pretty much works out for the best.

Choose one problem

The only limit on my keep-it-loose principle is to try and reduce what you’re working on as much as possible.

Generally we find teams get the most out of Ashore stays when they’re focussed on one big thing in particular: whether it’s a key decision, a new product direction, or a major problem to be solved.

So narrow it down before-hand, and then when the idea inevitably expands when you spend time Ashore, you’ll have the space to go down rabbit-holes, explore the idea fully, and apply everyone’s minds fully to one super-important thing.

Simplicity breeds creativity.

Don’t forget the UK

Finally, I’d say don’t forget the UK. No one loves sitting in a Mercado in Lisbon more than me, but going abroad adds a whole new layer of complexity.

That can be fine for those big set piece annual offsites - or where you already have an international team so travel will already be priced in.

But when it comes to getting a small team together, to focus on doing great work, or big thinking, then removing that element of the equation just makes it even simpler to get everything off the ground.

We’re biased - but when it comes to locations too, whether it’s overlooking the North Sea in the Warren House, or living in the bustling centre of Hay-on-Wye out of the Atelier, the UK is a brilliant place to be, all year round.

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If you’re in the process of booking a working stay - whether for yourself, or your team - and you think we can help, either message us in the chat, or drop me an email at

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