Luana birmingham team


     Anna Manchester team


away days...

Each year as a team we organise an “away day”...These events have become an integral part of the studio team’s calendar.

If any of these take your fancy and you would like, help or support in planning your own team away day, please give us a call to chat through, we would love to help other teams enjoy the same fun experiences we have.

These days can be totally tailored to location, budget and individual themes and requirements – we have great and imaginative ideas!

The objective of these events is to review the previous year and plan positively forward to the year ahead. During these sessions we look to how we can commit to being even more customer first and what as a team we commit to each other and the business. Also this is an opportunity to say thank to each other for continued support, let our hair down and have some fun!

The following is a review of the past 6 away days and what we got up to!

Team Away Day 7 – March 2013

In the good spirit of team building, thestudio team away day was organised this year, unlike the previous years, in March instead of January. No more bitterly cold days, fresh air and spring all around…or so we thought.

The weather, however, didn’t bring spirits down and at 8 o’clock on a Saturday morning we were all (Birmingham and Manchester) having a lovely warm breakfast in the Quarnford Lodge in the beautiful Peak District wondering what secret activities were planned for us. The morning fog made it even spookier as we were driven away to an unknown location which we soon discovered was a bike rental just feet away from the Monsal trail!! Before you knew it we were all up and ready to go on our biking activity which, despite the fog and the drizzling rain was a great way to start the day. We thoroughly enjoyed the warm cups of tea and coffee at the end.

The afternoon was quiet but nevertheless interesting with some fun indoor activities (I never knew there were so many chocolate lovers at thestudio) followed by a more serious discussion that included plans and ideas for the future of the company. It’s always a good thing to have a big picture of where the company is moving and how you can contribute to its growth and success. After all, as clichéd as it may sound the success of the business is the individual success of everyone working there. The dinner and the karaoke that followed was a great way to end the day.

The feedback everyone gave was fantastic even despite the weather everyone seems to have genuinely enjoyed the day’s activities and we have to agree that cake baking is always fun when you get to taste the results. Thanks to the team in Bimingham and Manchester for giving up their weekends to enjoy it with thestudio family.

Team Away Day 6 – January 2012

January 2012 at Lea Hall, in the Peak District was the host to our 6th annual away day. This year we tasked a couple of our senior team to find the perfect location, so Julian and Craig set about the search. Craig will not mind me saying that Jules was a natural at this and took to the task wholeheartedly and if ever anyone needs their very own “Phil Spencer” for location, location, location for a country retreat… Jules is your man, quite the Lord of the Manor!

Lea Hall is the childhood home of Florence Nightingale and comfortably slept 20 of us, a truly beautiful house to rent for a weekend and perfect for our needs. Some of us arrived on the Friday night and walked a very cold and frosty mile to grace the local pub with our presence; we had a lovely cosy night and prepared ourselves for the arrival of the rest of the team the next day.

Saturday dawned bright and frosty and the team were all welcomed with steaming mugs of tea and bacon sarnies. Followed by the work of the day, the annual departmental reviews of the previous year’s achievements and a promises and commitments to the year ahead, particularly loved this year was the Studio Manchester comic book fabulously illustrated by the talented Anna M!

In the afternoon as is tradition we host a fun activity, themed around a popular TV show. Previous years have seen The Apprentice, Dragons Den, Top Gear and Come Dine With Me… this year the theme was FLOG IT! The team were divided into 5 sub teams and tasked with researching, negotiating, purchasing and marketing items that they had purchased with their allocated £100 per team. They all then had to list their items on EBay as a 5 day listing and over the forthcoming week the teams were able to watch their progress, the winning team being those that made the best profit on their items! It was great to see the teams returning with their treasures and here the adventures of the afternoons shopping in various locations around Derbyshire.

The evening is for relaxing and getting to know each other better, we enjoyed a great meal and wine in the grand dining room and chatted over wine until the early hours before all departing on Sunday morning, another away day under our belt and ready to focus on another studio year ahead

A few words from Anna M, from our studiomanchester... joining us for her first away day…

After initially feeling quite nervous about attending my first studio ‘away day’ I was relieved to find that the day started with a VERY welcome cup of tea and a bacon sandwich, much deserved given that I’d got up earlier than I would usually do for a ‘normal’ day at work! It was a very informal, relaxed atmosphere and it was good to finally put faces to the voices at the other end of the telephone for those members of staff I hadn’t previously met. A few hours later I had rid myself of my nerves having got the serious presentation business out of the way (phew), I had also discovered that I was a natural for sourcing ‘antiques’ and was quite rightly 1/3 of the task winning team Blonde Ambition. The evening continued in much the same way with the wine and chatter flowing in equal measure, The following morning after a good nights sleep there was yet more bacon butties and then the farewells. I came away from the experience feeling like I’d built better relationships with other members of staff, and quite relieved it would be a whole year before I had to do another presentation!

January 2011 – “Come Dine with me & Studio’s Got Talent” – Middle Stanley Farm

Year 5... Crikey, this one came round quick – what a year! Through some of the toughest months the business has seen we have survived and it was time once again to get the team together. This year in order to be sensible with our costs; we decided this one would be a little more “d.i.y.” than previous years... so the idea of the “big studio house” was born. Properties were checked out and we decided on hiring a farm for the weekend and the theme would be “Come Dine with me” meets “Studio’s Got Talent” (because it has... loads of it!)
The team all arrived on Saturday morning after some very early starts to a farmhouse welcome by the Aga with bacon rolls and steaming mugs of tea. One of the converted barns was a conference room so once again some brilliant departmental presentations were made, new facts, new figures, new people, new energy – we are now a multi location venue company! How excited and proud are we!?

After lunch, the team get to realise that unlike previous years if they want to eat and be entertained they need to create it all themselves this year! Teams are formed and named, secret ingredients are distributed and menus are created to be served to 16 of us that evening. In addition each team were to perform an after dinner entertainment piece: a musical using every member of your team, but condensed into no more than 15 minutes. We enjoyed the delights of Jungle Book, Grease 2 and the winning performance of the Wizard of Dudley.. Brilliant! Some of the best food and best entertainment we have experienced on any of our away days
Jodie – Financial Control Assistant ... “What I remember most about our away day at Middle Stanley Farm : Becky’s fabulous acting, superb bacon sandwich on arrival, Hannah walking through the door surprising everyone, Julian singing ‘there are worse things I could do, than go with a boy or two’ with a pillow stuffed up his jumper, Emma throwing herself across the floor with a sieve held up to her face, Monty, Lawrence & Becky doing the Dirty Dancing ‘lift’, the worry surrounding how that joint of beef was going to be cooked”…

January 2010 – “Top Gear Terror” - Washbourne Court

Year 4.. . a few more of us again in our ever expanding team and more personalities to bring their thoughts and ideas to the table. Back to the Cotswolds, to a beautiful hotel with our own private bus driver to ferry us around the planned activities. We were all incredibly excited as in December 2009 we had actually signed the lease on our Manchester venue so we had a very focussed start to the year getting the space fitted out and opened ready for an April launch date.
This year in the morning the team all did a department presentation to review the previous 12 months and make their commitments to the year ahead. Again the teams excelled, their presentations were lively, fun, informative and energetic. After a hearty lunch overlooking the hotel grounds the bus driver arrived and whisked the team off to a “secret destination” for a surprise activity... there was much guessing and some worried faces on the bus, but everyone loved the fact we spent the afternoon rally driving! The fact it was a cold, wet and later on dark disused airfield did not in anyway dampen the spirits or the fun of the afternoon. We all headed back to the hotel for well deserved tea and cakes, followed later by yet again another evening where we all ate, drank and were merry!
Rebecca – Events Manager – Birmingham – “What I remember most about our away day at Washbourne Court was Being the fastest women in rally driving!!!!Very nice food and a little too much wine!

January 2009 – “The Apprentice goes to Bristol” – Thornbury Castle

Year 3... a larger team again and we ventured a little further afield to the amazing hotel that is Thornbury castle – a truly magnificent property just outside of Bristol. The team all got on the train in Birmingham and were given “challenge envelopes”. The day began in Bristol city centre and finished with the afternoon and evening at the castle. We enjoyed a private dining room complete with coats of armour and as some of the team believe a very ghostly presence!
By away day number 3 our focus ahead was on expansion and what location next for the studio venue company? We had 2 cities our customers constantly requested: Bristol and Manchester so we launched “ the studio apprentice”. On arrival in Bristol, three teams were formed and set a morning of challenges and tasks, each team focussing on different elements we would need to consider if Bristol was our next city for expansion. During the afternoon the team prepared presentations to give before dinner of their findings. Incredible presentations were delivered with a vote for the overall winning team and one lucky overall winner!
Anna – Hospitality Manager – Manchester ... “What I remember most about Thornbury Castle was winning the Apprentice title and being very smug with myself. Ha! The grandeur of the venue and setting...

January 2008 – “Into the Dragons Den” – New Hall

The second year the team had grown a little, we had survived the first year in a new business and our thoughts were turning to expansion of our brand into a new location. We chose New Hall in the Midlands, again as another leading UK hotel to take the team away and experience a little luxury. Another very creative day of hard work followed by a raucous evening spent eating, drinking and being merry. On this occasion we shared the hotel with Reading football club who were playing Aston Villa the next day, I couldn’t possibly say that their bad performance had anything to do with us keeping them up half the night!
This session focussed on how we were going to raise funds to expand the business, so we staged a Dragons Den experience. We invited in 4 fantastic business gurus and asked the teams in groups of 3 to present their expansion plan and how and why each Dragon should invest. It was a daunting task but some great ideas and strategies were made, resulting in the business securing funding in 2009 to expand into location 2!
Lawrence, IT Director – “What I remember most about our away day at New Hall ... – Nigel, John and a bottle of whisky at 4am looking at the boat in the moat called Dawn.... the next morning creating artwork by painting with remote controlled cars!...

January 2007 – “Creation of our Core Values” - Cowley Manor

The first year we introduced an away day... we wanted to get the team into a different space and thank them for supporting us through 2006, a very challenging year in which the management buyout took place. Cowley is one of the UK’s leading hotels and gave us a chance to treat the team to some great food, service and relaxation. The day after some hard work and creative thinking sessions led to a very late night in the bar and on the pool table!
At this session we focussed on the team creating the studio core values and our mission statement CUSTOMER FIRST was born , we did this as a creative exercise with lots of magazines, pictures, cutting out and sticking – all very Blue Peter! Our core values are depicted in imagery and something we all remember creating . CUSTOMER FIRST is still at the heart of everything we do every day.
Dawn – Sales Manager “What I remember most about our away day at Cowley Manor was: going for a swim in the afternoon, the lovely walk to the pub, Seema having never stayed in a hotel before and being introduced to the world of hotels in such a glam way, Jim teaching me to play pool and being endlessly patient when I got bored, the lovely smellies in the room, the activity in the afternoon where we came up with our values and our mission statement....

Watch this space – who knows what the team will be challenged to next year...!

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