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Bridget’s blog: Coming together as a remote team

8th February 2023

10th birthday celebrations, conference plans, and Bananagrams…Music Mark CEO Bridget Whyte reflects on the hidden value of coming together when working as a remote team. 

Being part of a remote staff team has been a learning curve for all of us at Music Mark. There are so many benefits, not least that we don’t have to commute in the dark, cold, icy days of winter, but understandably we do sometimes miss working in the same space and spending time together as a team.

We’re in contact with each other every day – Teams and WhatsApp are both invaluable – and we also have regular staff meetings on Zoom. However, every 6 to 8 weeks we set aside time to get together in person to reflect and plan. Before Christmas we had a day in London to explore our new strategic priorities (more on this in March), facilitated by Carmel Cardona who guided us through discussions to identify the skills, knowledge, resources and partnerships we will need to deliver on our ideas. Then at the start of January we came together again – for two days this time – in Northampton.

Fuelled by plenty of biscuits and cups of tea, we worked our way through an agenda we’d co-created in the weeks prior to meeting. Whilst we made lots of decisions and developed some exciting ideas, like how Music Mark will celebrate its 10th year in 2023, the primary aim was for us to spend some valuable time together considering the various elements of what we do at Music Mark and how we could work as a team to deliver them.

At the heart of all our discussions is how we support, connect and influence on behalf of our membership. We spent time discussing our member and industry partner benefits as well as the events we provide including our conference – did you see we’ve announced the date and location of our 2023 annual conference? Save the date to your diary!

The time spent travelling to these face-to-face meetings can be significant, with the team spread out across the country, but the conversations are so rich and valuable. For us, coming together is not just about work but also about getting to know each other, especially as the team has grown and changed over the past few years. We have social events virtually – our Music Mark Bake Offs have become quite a highlight – but the casual chat had in an office environment is not so easy to replicate as a remote working team, so we certainly used our two days in Northampton to do this.

Because we were on his patch, and being hosted by NMPAT (thank you to everyone there for making us so welcome), Peter Smalley, Music Mark’s Vice Chair, joined us for some of our planning discussions. He even managed to accompany us for a meal at a hidden Northampton gem, Oren Pho. After dinner, as a staff team we spent a happy hour playing Bananagrams and Dobble! It’s amazing to see the competitive side of others – although I expect for the rest of the team, discovering I struggle without spellcheck was the highlight!

We’ll be back together again probably in late March, but having spent time together in Northampton we headed back to our respective home offices to continue these conversations and make a start on our exciting plans working together online.

Music Mark has come a long way since it started 10 years ago and the next 10 years are going to see even more change, for us and for the sector. Over the coming months we’ll be helping everyone to look back and see how far we’ve come, but also to look forward. We’ll tell you more about this in March – but what we know will remain a constant is our focus on providing great support for our membership, finding ways to help them connect, and having conversations with policy makers to ensure our members voices are heard.