The Annual Retreat AKA Why We Take Time Away From Mobile App Development

Ben Lee

Ben Lee

CEO and Co-founder of Neon Roots

Ben Lee is the co-founder and CEO of Neon Roots, a digital development agency with a mission to destroy the development model and rebuild it from the ground up. After a brief correspondence with Fidel Castro at age nine, Ben decided to start doing things his own way, going from busboy to club manager at a world-class nightclub before he turned 18. Since then, Ben has founded or taken a leading role in 5 businesses in everything from software development to food and entertainment.

At Neon Roots, we work hard. We routinely take on the most challenging projects available to use, we constantly strive to innovate new ways of thinking about and solving problems, and we hold ourselves to the highest standard of coding and professional quality we can.

But once a year, we put all the challenges and excitement of work behind us and head 6,000 miles away to the southern shores of Uruguay. This is our annual retreat: a time for the entire Neon Roots family to relax, recharge, and make the most of the beautiful Uruguayan summer.

mobile app development

Unadulterated Fun

Our annual retreat is unrestricted playtime. We head to Casa Suaya, a beautiful hotel resort complete with thatched roofs, a gorgeous pool, and a fully-stocked bar, and spend our days sunning on the deck and swimming in the pool. We hike through the beautiful Uruguayan countryside, meditate, paddleboard off the beach, and play a lot of ukulele. Naturally, we do a lot more as well – and our new gallery and new video document the experience in all its glory.

Casa Suaya Retreat

For us, the annual retreat is a bit of a company paradise: we look forward to it the whole year long, and it’s something of a ritual that keeps us all bound together as a family.

mobile app developmentWhy Getting Away From Mobile App Development Makes Us Better Developers

Some mobile app development companies might be shocked that we do something like this. The reality is that the retreat is expensive. It takes a lot to fly an entire development shop to a country on a different continent and provide an all-expenses-paid retreat experience complete with a gorgeous resort, unbelievable meals, and a whole lot of NeonBeer. So why do we do it? It’s simple:

Taking time away to strengthen our connections as a team makes us better at the work we do.

We’ve found it true time and time again. Taking the time to rest and recharge helps us maintain the energy, motivation, and ingenuity we need to work at the highest level possible.

It’s a similar principle to our mandatory Paid Time Off. When you work in mobile app development, it’s easy to get stuck in front of a computer screen day in and day out. But we’ve found that sitting in front of a computer doesn’t actually feed creativity, it drains it.

So every month, the entire team takes a work day off to go do something fun outside. By taking some time every month to go play outside and taking a retreat every year as a team, we breathe life into the spirit of creativity and excitement that’s so vital to our work.

mobile app development

A Recharging Ritual

For us, the annual retreat has become a necessary part of our company culture and a crucial element in the rhythm of our working lives. Working in mobile app development in Los Angeles is fast-paced, demanding work, and with the caliber and quantity of our clients, it would be easy to get lost in between the lines of code.

Our retreat keeps us grounded. It lets us stake out time every year to let go of the stress, pressure, and workload of daily life and take a moment to just be.

So what do you do to recharge? How do you protect a space for rest in your own working life? If you know the answers to those questions, that’s great. If you don’t, it may be time for you to start finding them.