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We have Studio Day 4 times a year. It’s a chance for us all to come together for a mixture of lightning talks, workshops, games, lunch, plus lots of chit-chat and catching up. Studio Day 15, was a doozy – organised by Simon, Emma, Claire, Sean and Ian.

We’ve used lots of locations in Cambridge: the Fitzwilliam Museum, Kettle’s Yard, and The Brewhouse to name a few. The location this time was The Aedwen Room at Ely Museum. We arrived following a very picturesque walk from the train station via the cathedral.

A lush, wild green meadow up an incline to Ely Cathedral. There's a grey, stormy sky
A lovely view of the cathedral on the walk to work

First things first

Cake was eaten, updates were given on families and pets, reviews were shared on the Netflix series we are currently enjoying, and musings were made about how nice it would be to be pushed around in a Victorian Bath Chair (an interesting distraction in our museum meeting room!).

Emma and Miro are in a kitchenette. There are open cupboards full of white crockery and glasses. Orange tiles are on the wall
Emma and Miro get the kettle on!
Three white bakery boxes have a selection of buns and pastries
Breakfast from a local bakery in Ely

Jamie battled with the trains to arrive two hours late. After setting off from Nottingham, which should have been a direct train to Ely in 90 minutes, the train went round in a circle to arrive back at Nottingham an hour later only to then set out for Ely again. A bizarre, incredibly frustrating, and very British way to travel by train.

We welcomed our new PHP developer Zuzana to the team. Zuzana has been a friend of the studio for many years and we are delighted that she’ll be bringing her fantastic PHP skills and experience to the studio.

Jamie and Miro are looking at Miro's phone. Jamie is smiling broadly
New dads Miro and Jamie share baby photos
Fran is standing up next to Nicki, who is seated at the table. They are sharing news and both have warm smiles
Ian choses a cake, while Fran and Nicki catch up

Big breath in for the balloon game

The first game pitted one side of the room against the other. It was a case of which team could blow up the most balloons in 5 minutes. The upside of this game was that our meeting room now had a party feel to it!

Fran, Miro and Tim are sitting at a table with 8 inflated balloons in red, green and pink colours.
Time for the count!

Thoughts for the future

Emma led a session on how we use research and development time in the studio and how this can be used to support personal development. We discussed the best ways to manage time, research focus, and outputs to drive business improvement and personal goals.

In teams, we brainstormed areas of focus for future R&D time – and we now have an amazingly long and exciting wish list, especially around sustainable web practices. Watch this space!

Emma stands at the front of the room by a screen that reads R&D Personal Development
After chats and buns and games, it's time to get down to business with our first talk of the day

Let’s go bargain hunting. Yes!

After a delicious lunch at the Ely Turkish Restaurant, it was time for another game. We split into pairs and headed down to the Waterside Antiques Centre. Each pair had £5 to spend on an item with a link to Studio 24.

My favourite was Ian and Isaac’s ‘Design Unit Optimisation’ – two tiny cups for coffee and Claire and Zuzana’s metal spider to remind us we all work on the web!

Ian in the antiques centre looking at a cup. He is surrounded by shelves full to bursting with crockery
Could this be it?
Isaac in the antiques centre with union flags and George cross flags hanging from the beams and many boxes of vinyl records.
What have you found Isaac?

Is there something I should know?

We’ve been building a culture of feedback at the studio, which is an ongoing learning process for us all. Before Studio Day, Sean conducted research into how we all feel about getting and receiving feedback.

We agreed that feedback is something we all want because it helps us learn and improve, so it was good to explore how we can be more comfortable with giving feedback to each other.

Sean stands at the front of the room to give his presentation. The screen reads How to improve our feedback culture. There is a picture from Game of Thrones which has been captioned brace yourself, feedback is coming.
Brace yourselves, feedback is coming!

Jelly bean budgets

Ian introduced us to Maud: CEO of a new jelly bean factory. Maud is overseeing the building of a new factory in a local community.

In teams of 3, we were given the requirements via the project brief and outcomes from the community research. Each requirement costs a certain number of jelly beans. We had to allocate our budget of 60 jelly beans to try and meet the client and the community requirements as best we could. Not easy!

Certain spanners were thrown in such as Maud overruling our decisions, which meant jelly beans were lost and reallocation of remaining beans was needed. Difficult decisions had to be made over which requirements to keep and which to scrap!

Although a light-hearted exercise, there was reflection afterwards on how we use budgets for our projects and how those difficult decisions are made.

Ian sets the scene for our work with the Fruity: the juicy jelly bean company. The screen shows a picture of CEO Maud, an elderly white lady dressed in orange, wearing yellow sunglasses
Ian introduces the next task
Zuzana, Gerald and Sean read through the brief together. Zusana has a bag of jelly beans by her elbow.
Getting to grips with the brief, before the jelly beans are allocated

Happiness at work

And finally, Claire, one of our mental health first aiders, talked about Stress Awareness Month. Claire reminded us of the importance of managing stress and how to look after ourselves and others in our team.

Clearly, the train company took note as Jamie had a stress-free return to Nottingham. Phew! And that concluded Studio Day 15!


The Studio 24 team - four seated at the table, 12 standing behind -  throw coloured balloons in the air and laugh
The end of another successful studio day!