Please don’t take this wrong! We don’t mean employees are like wild animals that belong in the jungle, or that employers are vicious carnivores; it simply means that taking employees for even a short time in to the wild is very important and in many ways critical to the health of an organisation! Today we will illustrate to you the experience over many years of conducting office reviews in India’s jungles.
“We are headed to Rajaji National Park for our Senior Leadership Team Meet,” I announced. “Again,” I heard a near-silent murmur in the conference room. My guess is that it came from someone who had probably never been for a review with us. “Yes, again,” I said, “We will leave Thursday night, stay for two days and return on Sunday. Please be sure that it’s terribly cold, so please gear up for the chill factor of the forest in December.”
Rajaji, a Tiger Sanctuary is known for its large elephant population. The drive was twenty kilometers of four by four on a gravel river bed with shin-deep water- a beautiful yet treacherous terrain.
Thursday night came soon enough and off we went, 45 of us in a bus warmed by bated breath and anxious hearts on our overnight journey. One breakfast stop, two toilet stops and various grapevine conversations later, our team entered the forest early morning.
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Now this wasn’t any forest and it wasn’t any ordinary drive. Rajaji National Park, a tiger sanctuary, is known for its large elephant population. The drive was twenty kilometers of four by four on a gravel river bed with shin-deep water- a beautiful yet treacherous terrain. Various jeeps ferried our team over the water; there was so much excitement and such thrill! Thus setting the pace for the rest of the day of what was to be the start of our office review!
At a time when pollution was peaking and air quality reading machines were going off the charts at the office headquarters- that fresh, pure oxygen mixed with a wooden fragrance made everyone come alive! A quick breakfast and couple of selfies later, we were ready and back in business. Presentations, numbers, reviews, debates, and discussions- everyone seemed to be on fire! We think it was the energy that we were surrounded with, the power of mother nature.
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Our workday managed to include analyzing countless balance sheets and at dusk, we halted our work. The fierceness of the numbers dissipated as everyone saw the sun’s orange hues hide behind an overpowering range of hills all around. The temperature dropped by a rapid 15 degrees almost instantly as each member prepared themselves for the unforgiving winter chill in the forest.
They say one of man’s greatest discoveries is fire and this time, I couldn’t agree more. The team sat around an enormous bonfire. Our freezing selves were warmed by this illuminant and dynamic object that seemed to do a lot more than just give light. It gave perspective. How simplicity is a virtue we need to appreciate and often in the self-administered busy life that we lead, we forget to look at the more fundamental things that we already have and are all around us. There was singing, dancing, dramatics, drinking and good food, but more importantly, there was a connect, there was a bond. And it was personal. Time felt to have slowed down and life felt beautiful.
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Good Morning! It’s 5am! Our nature walk in the forest at the crack of the dawn wasn’t compulsory, or all that easy. Imagine walking in tiger and elephant territory, especially during the time they roam the forest; now add to that a temperature close to zero degrees. The plan was to build a fire and to cook breakfast for everyone. So off we went, all 45 of us in the middle of the unknown, looking for a beautiful spot to cook and feed ourselves.
In the evening, we had chat sessions, taboo, dance-offs, heart-to-heart discussions, and bonding amidst the wilderness. It didn’t matter how senior you were or the size of the mandate you handled. For once, everyone was one!
We were welcomed by the most dangerous sound in the forest, the ‘Sambar Call’; a Sambar deer signaling that there is a carnivore in the vicinity. It’s a very distinct alarm call that is a sure-shot way of knowing that a tiger or leopard is on the move nearby. This added such a rush of adrenaline to our journey. It was a heady mix- the uncertainty and the element of danger, along with a dash of the fear of the unknown. But all those emotions propelled us to build our breakfast fire faster. On the menu were, five different kinds of pakoras, made to order eggs, poha, toast, tea, and coffee- the makings of a five-star breakfast. With one fundamental difference, it was made from the heart.
In the evening, we had chat sessions, taboo, dance-offs, heart-to-heart discussions, and bonding amidst the wilderness. It didn’t matter how senior you were or the size of the mandate you handled. For once, everyone was one! The night faded into peaceful oblivion.
Next day was time to pack up and leave. 48 hours in the forest felt like a week outside the concrete jungle. Everyone left with deep memories of a simple time, that helped us rejuvenate, relax, reflect and resolve to make our lives as well as our work, matter.
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Disha Chopra is a Family Travel Blogger on Instagram who travels with her husband and 2 little avengers (ages 3 & 5 ), they recount their adventures & experiences in @adventuresofa2d2. She’s been a journalist with over 12 years of experience in TV news and is now a Culture & Communication facilitator for Corporates. The views expressed are the author’s own.