Workcation with engineers in Beppu
In late June 2022, I, Yano of Public Relations, went on a workcation trip to accompany the "Team Building Camp" held in Beppu City, Oita Prefecture, by HENNGE's engineering department and others.
Let me report on the workcation, the advantages and disadvantages of the experience, and the engineers deepening exchanges in Beppu.
If you don't have time to read the article, be sure to check out our video recap of the camp!
“Would you like to go on a workcation in Beppu?"
It was May 2022 when my supervisor made this proposal.
It seems that the engineering and planning/development departments in the company were going to have a training camp in Beppu for the purpose of team building, and he suggested that I accompany them and write an article.
HENNGE values the autonomy of its employees and does not force them to come to the office or telework. For instance, I come to the office only once or twice a week these days.
What!? I can leave my usual workplace (my dining room table at home) and work spontaneously at a spa resort!? And I get to interact with engineers that I don't get a chance to interact with in the office!?
How could I say no!? (laugh)
I usually work and eat at my dining room table at home. (tears)
I jumped at the chance and decided to participate for the following purposes:
(1) Write an article about my workcation experience
(2) Deepen exchanges with engineers
Thus, a four-night, five-day workcation with more than 30 members was decided.
Now, to Onsen Prefecture!
On a Sunday in late June, we flew from Haneda Airport to Oita.
After a 1 hour and 40 minute flight, we arrived at Oita Airport.
Oita is Japan's largest onsen prefecture in terms of both the number of hot springs and the volume of hot spring water gushing out. And so, at the airport, we were immediately greeted by a large bath tub.
On the first day, we went sightseeing in the city.
With HENNGE members who were on the same flight, we went to "Umi-Jigoku," a cobalt blue colored hot spring.
We enjoyed a well-deserved footbath, and your fatigue was immediately healed.
Beppu City, known as one of the best hot spring resorts in Japan, is actively inviting people to work while relaxing in the hot springs.
In fact, HENNGE is involved in this effort.
Beppu City and HENNGE have signed a comprehensive collaboration agreement to promote the development of Beppu's tourism industry and support for entrepreneurship in 2020.
HENNGE has also launched a dedicated website to promote Beppu City as a potential workcation destination. The camp and workcation were made possible through this website.
We couldn’t wait to see what kind of experience awaits us. And so, our workcation started in steamy Beppu.
Working space with a view of the sea
Work began immediately on the following Monday.
At a center in Beppu City, which we rented for this project, I opened my PC with a group of engineers.
At first I fidgeted a bit in the unfamiliar environment.
But after taking a bath in the morning, my head was clear, and I was inspired by the way other members worked.
I was able to concentrate on my work more easily because, being close to other people, I was able to quickly ask questions and ask for advice.
I was able to participate in online meetings with members in Tokyo without difficulty.
This is nothing new, but I once again realized how wonderful it is to be able to work from anywhere as long as I have a PC and internet connection.（Hooray for the cloud!)
The meeting room has an ocean view!
For lunch, we enjoyed a cozy lunch at "Joyful," a family restaurant that originated in Oita, with other members of the group.
At night, we enjoyed seafood from Beppu and went to sleep soundly.
Working in the City of Hot Springs
On the next day, Tuesday, I also started the day with a morning bath at the hotel.
I woke up feeling refreshed, and my skin was also moisturized. Or was it just my imagination?
We continued on to Kannawa, a hot spring resort in Beppu City.
Standing in a corner of the town, where steam was rising here and there, we visited a building that used to be a hot-spring sanatorium, renovated as a co-working space.
This would be our workplace for the day.
The building had a nostalgic atmosphere with a pleasant breeze blowing through from time to time.
The engineers, who usually work from home, also seemed to be having a great time communicating with each other in person.
During lunch break, we strolled around the hot spring resort area and discovered a city-run hot spring (for free!!!).
We even got to try and make "jigoku-mushi ryori," Beppu's local dish, in which vegetables and other items are steamed using steam from the hot spring.
After that, we continued to enjoy both "work" and "vacation" to the fullest.
We tried playing "drone soccer," a game that originated in South Korea, at Japan's first dedicated stadium in Beppu City. After work, we went on a parade through the streets of Beppu City. And overall I felt I was able to enjoy Beppu more deeply during my five-day stay than I would have during a weekend trip.
The end of the workcation
Well, here's what I noticed during my 4-night, 5-day workcation.
It took me some time at first to get used to the new environment, but at the end of the day the benefits were far greater in terms of being able to work in a refreshed environment.
The "unusual feeling" and "sense of togetherness" of getting together in a place other than the office was a great encouragement to work and communicate with other members.
The view in front of the working space always soothed me.
Team building camp for engineers
Finally, let me talk about one of the two goals I had set for myself, which was
(2) To deepen exchanges with the engineers
To begin with, the "team building camp" for the engineering and planning/development departments was held to provide an opportunity for the members to meet face-to-face.
(Although it did not coincide with my stay, members from HENNGE's Taiwan office also attended the camp in the latter half of the period.)
HENNGE continues to recruit engineers from all over the world, but in the past few years, teleworking has expanded due to the spread of the new coronavirus.
Even when new members join HENNGE, many engineers work from home due to the nature of their jobs and opportunities for members to meet face-to-face were very limited.
Therefore, in order to strengthen relationships within the team, we created opportunities for everyone to get together. We also wanted to give the engineers, who rarely have the opportunity to travel within Japan, a chance to get to know Japan.
This camp was held in June, just as the pandemic situation was starting to improve.
During the camp, the joint meetings between the engineering and planning/development departments, which had always been held online, were held in real life for the first time.
The engineers also worked next to each other and enjoyed playing board games together.
In fact, the members who participated in the meeting said
“There were a few members I had never met even in meetings, but we were able to meet face-to-face and talk about personal matters. Everyone was very nice.” and
“Even within the same department, different teams do different jobs, so it was good to be able to share each other's work in the same space.”
Spending time in Beppu with engineers
And finally, a little bit about whether I myself was able to deepen my interaction with the engineers.
Before coming to Beppu, I had never had a chance to talk to any of them face-to-face.
However, by sharing time at work, during lunch breaks, and after regular hours every day, I was able to talk with almost all of them by the last day of the workcation.
At first, I was worried about what kind of conversation I should have with the members of other departments. But when I started talking to them, they were all very friendly.
As we talked about our common hobbies, favorite singers, and personal lives, and listened to stories about the past of HENNGE, I learned more and more about a side of each member that I had never known.
By the time I returned to Tokyo, we had completely opened up.
What made me most happy was that when I returned to Tokyo from Beppu and went to work in the office, I had more acquaintances than ever before and was able to casually chat with them here and there.
I look forward to going to the office more than before, and it is easier to get work done.
If I ever get the chance to work somewhere else with other members again, I'd love to be a part of it!