Investing in the Human Potential: XRM Vision's eXperience 2024

When you're one of the global leaders among Microsoft partners, prioritizing the human aspect to shape innovative business solutions may seem unusual. However, for years, XRM Vision has been organizing team retreats to emphasize human relationships among colleagues by providing quality time together. Recently, we demonstrated the power of this approach by taking this initiative further, on an international scale: the eXperience 2024.

Indeed, XRM Vision brought together its Canadian team in Mexico and its Moroccan team in Agadir for two retreats, for a week of collaboration and professional development. Let's delve into this human experience with its initiator.

Interview with Félix Robitaille, President of XRM Vision

Question: What is the eXperience 2024?

Félix Robitaille: The eXperience 2024 comprised two off-site retreats that marked the beginning of the year. Our Canadian team gathered in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, for a week of collaboration in an enchanting setting. Similarly, our Moroccan team gathered in Agadir, a seaside resort in southern Morocco.

Félix Robitaille at the start of the first presentation at the eXperience 2024 in Mexico.

Q: Why did XRM Vision choose to invest in the eXperience 2024?

Félix: Our decision to invest in the eXperience 2024 stems from a deep conviction: human potential is the key to our success. With a predominantly remote work mode, across different geographies in Canada and Morocco, connecting is no longer as simple as when there were five of us sitting around my kitchen table or even when there was only the office in Montreal before the pandemic. Today, our offices are spread across Montreal, Toronto, Victoria, and Kenitra, and besides physical distance, there are time zones, languages, and the fact that most employees work remotely, which brings further isolation. It is crucial for us to build strong bonds and foster effective collaboration among our colleagues, even those who have never met in person.

That's why, with the help of David Brochu, our Vice President of Operations, we decided to organize these off-site retreats to allow our colleagues to meet, exchange, and forge bonds that will strengthen our corporate culture and collective efficiency. The entire team rallied to create a unique human experience, transcending virtual borders for a week. Indeed, David Brochu, along with our HR business partner in Canada, Vanessa Raymond, and in Morocco, our HR mission officer, Lina Tariq and our General Manager of XRM Vision Morocco, Adel Mabrouk, joined this project to create a lively event for colleagues who usually see each other through screens.

The Moroccan team at the 2024 eXperience in Agadir

Q: What were the main goals of the eXperience 2024?

Félix: The main goal was to enhance collaboration, efficiency, and well-being within our team. Of course, we were fully aware that this decision might seem costly... But we firmly believe that the long-term benefits far outweigh the initial direct and indirect costs.

During these two week-long retreats, we organized presentations on past successes, future objectives, as well as training sessions on the latest Microsoft technologies and project management practices. It was also a time to share the knowledge that four of our colleagues gained at the Microsoft Power Platform Conference in Las Vegas. It was also an opportunity to get to know each other better through human resources workshops based on Kolbe and Atman tests, thanks to the skills of our two HR specialists, Vanessa Raymond and Lina Tariq. Finally, the achievements of our inspiring colleagues were highlighted during two gala evenings that capped off the two experiences.

Traditional Moroccan-themed gala evening at eXperience 2024 in Agadir
Elegance gala evening with a Mexican twist at eXperience 2024 in Mexico

Q: How did you prepare the participants for this experience?

Félix: To ensure genuine interactions from the outset of the eXperience 2024, we took a proactive approach by preparing the team. Before the event, we encouraged each participant to delve into the topics that would be covered in the workshops and identify key information to share with the team. We also suggested that they make a list of people they wanted to interact with and think of questions to engage in conversation. Additionally, we provided them with the week's schedule via our dedicated app, making it easier for them to organize. Furthermore, we enriched the app's FAQ with some additional questions, from internet access to health tips, to address all their queries and ensure a smooth experience. This approach aimed to help them prepare in advance, emphasizing the importance of developing their professional network and fully enjoying the unique opportunity that an off-site retreat offers to create sincere connections with their colleagues.

Q: But you also enjoyed the sun, didn't you?

Félix: Absolutely! We also took advantage of the enchanting scenery among colleagues. It was important for us to schedule free time during these retreats, as spontaneously shared moments are invaluable. These relaxation moments foster authentic interactions, stimulate creativity, and strengthen the essential human connections for solid collaboration.

A moment of freestyle in Mexico, as announced in the app that informed participants of the schedule.

Interestingly, it was during an informal moment on the beach in Mexico, during an impromptu game of beach volleyball, that one of the most memorable team-building experiences spontaneously occurred. After a superb serve, our expert Abdoul Baldé realized that his wedding ring had disappeared: his wedding band had slipped off his finger! It must have fallen into the sand, but where exactly? All his teammates embarked on a frantic search, scouring every grain of sand until his roommate, Walter Hernandez, discreetly discovered it, buried in a corner of the court, for a most joyous conclusion.

Abdoul Baldé, once again proudly wearing his wedding ring on his finger, thanks to the efforts of the entire team.
Excerpt from a message from Abdoul about this adventure (see translation below)
Abdoul's message: "What can I say about this photo? A picture is worth a thousand words, but this one needs a story.  
While playing volleyball during the team off-site in Mexico, I lost my wedding ring in the sand!
After a few minutes of searching, I had come to terms with the fact that my wedding ring was definitely lost. That's when the strength of the tribe really came into its own. My colleagues didn't give up and they all mobilized to search for the ring in the sand. Even when the rain got in the way, they kept searching.
Just as I'd given up and given up hope, I prepared the speech to my wife: "I lost my wedding ring off-site in Mexico!" the unexpected happened. My roommate Walter found the ring after an astrological calculation of the bullet's trajectory and my position.  
Walter and the XRM league, you have my eternal gratitude."

Q: What were the main outcomes of this investment for XRM Vision?

Félix: Three months later... the sense of belonging is much greater... and collaboration dynamics continue to be much smoother because people are working with human colleagues... and not virtual ones. The feedback we received from our employees is extremely positive. They noted a significant transformation in team dynamics and their own motivation and commitment to our mission. Even for those who couldn't participate for personal reasons, the impact was felt. In my opinion, it speaks to the importance of human interactions in our corporate culture. This type of initiative is my way of building a platform to enable many humans to collaborate to change the world! By investing in the human aspect through the eXperience 2024, XRM Vision has amplified the power of its teams by fostering authentic interactions. This initiative has not only strengthened XRM Vision's corporate culture but has also enhanced the collaboration and efficiency of its teams, while reinforcing its positioning as an employer of choice.

Q: What are your plans for the future? Do you envision the eXperience 2025 for next year?

Félix: That's a question that keeps coming up in our internal discussions! (Laughs) In fact, this question even followed me to my room! For the record, my hotel room became a storage place for the equipment needed to organize an off-site retreat. Upon returning to my room for our last night in Mexico, when I unfolded the sheets of my bed, I found a little note. Vanessa and David had slipped a special goodnight message encouraging serious consideration for a second edition next year, with a subtle nod for an enthusiastic yes!

The note left in Felix's bed to encourage him to repeat the experiment
Note transcript: "The snake"
"Vanessa & David negotiating the next offsite"
"Sweet dreams"
"Surprise! You'll be eating at the buffet for 1 year"
"Felix in a speedo"

Of course, we're waiting to see the results in the coming months. Because I'm confident that this type of initiative will continue to pay off in the long run. We look forward to seeing the benefits multiply in the months ahead. Perhaps it may even inspire other companies wishing to foster a fulfilling work environment. Because in my opinion, building the tools for managing the future of work also means doing everything we can to have a positive impact on the evolution of the professional world towards a more human-centered approach.