Saved by the bell – The 2021 Employee Away Day


The 2021 employee away day was the first major event bringing together employees on any scale in person for over 18 months. Internal communication surveys have always highlighted the annual event as a highly valued communications channel by employees, and we were keen to ensure this could be delivered in a safe and appropriate way.

With that in mind, setting the right tone relative to general sentiment around large gatherings and social distancing was important. The event was reduced to a shortened one day event to allow people increased flexibility with regards to travelling options.

The established away day working group are well known for their ability to deliver creative and engaging content, and the group led by Johanne Thomas (U&C) and Katie Yates (Catesby) once again following the success of the overhauled 2019 Away Day and the subsequent 2020 In Day, didn’t disappoint. Harry Stewart responsible for creative delivery, did a sterling job behind the scenes.

The obvious venue for hosting was the new secondary school delivered by Urban&Civic at Houlton, with the engine room assembly hall acting as the perfect backdrop for the main presentations.

Upbeat in tone, informative and with a focus on togetherness, content was supplied by a range of employees from across the business. It included talks on our route to carbon zero, how sustainability is woven into the fabric of employee roles, core values, business wide updates, introduction to the annual staff survey and an interactive audience quiz.

External speaker Kirsten Henson from KLH Sustainability and our education panel with representatives from across the Houlton school development project including Josh McCosh from vHH architects, Pravin Parmar from the DfE, Darren Eaton from Morgan Sindall and Houlton School Principal Michael McCulley, added an external perspective to the proceedings.

To make the most of the venue and to give employees the opportunity to view the school in more detail, lunch was served in the sixth form centre with commanding views over Houlton and the wider area. The afternoon presentations were followed by teams battling it out in a shot the hoop challenge and tug of war in the sports hall.

The away day is here to stay and plans are already afoot for 2022.