Union Tribune - Mixing Work and Play

 Casey Fields, who owns The Point, is a former event planner with a love for the outdoors, including snowboarding and surfing.

Casey Fields, who owns The Point, is a former event planner with a love for the outdoors, including snowboarding and surfing.

The Point in Mission Beach taps into the work/life balance mentality.

“We are a smart meeting space on scenic Mission Bay that specializes in offsite experiences,” said Casey Fields, a former events planner who opened The Point in May.

Companies go to The Point – with bay views, a large plant chandelier and custom raw wood tables in an open floor space -- to work on projects, host training, meet clients or team build. But Fields would also like them to get away from the desk. 

The Point is part of Mission Bay Park, the 4,235-acre aquatic park that’s about half land and half water. A partnership with the neighboring Mission Beach Sports Center allows clients of The Point to rent water sports equipment. Break for a session on the water to race the boss on jet skis.

If a company wants to team build, The Point offers, for example, a beach cruiser/paddle board/ power walking triathlon. Or try a photo scavenger hunt on hot-tub equipped pontoon boats in Mission Bay. Teams compete to be the first to take pictures of things like seagulls and standup paddle boards while accomplishing challenges such as solving a puzzle and writing a haiku poem along the way.

Its bayfront lawn houses a city-owned baseball diamond and basketball courts. The Point also has cornhole, Kan Jam, horseshoes and Slammo as well as some glow-in-the-dark versions for after-hour events.

 The Point has an open floor plan and bay views for companies wanting to get out of their usual office space for projects, training or team building.

The Point has an open floor plan and bay views for companies wanting to get out of their usual office space for projects, training or team building.

“Employee happiness is directly related to how well they can balance work and life,” said Fields, who has long held a love for the outdoors from snowboarding the slopes of Vermont to surfing the waves in Florida.

Companies that have used The Point include Vevo, Jack in the Box and San Diego-based Maxell Technologies. Costs for The Point start at $200 an hour, but most people purchase a package with food and an activity that starts at about $1,500.

Below Fields, 32 -- whose title is chief experience officer -- chats more about work/life balance and what businesses are attracted to The Point.

 

INTERVIEW WITH CASEY

Q. What type of clients do you target?

A. We target corporate clients of all sizes in San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Arizona but have had attendees come from as far away as Germany and Sweden. Tech companies are our most common clients because they value working in a creative space and offering their employees innovative solutions. A small organization will often bring their whole company where as the larger ones will send a specific team.

Q. Which work vs. play ratio is popular with your clients?

A. Often, we make a custom package for clients to ensure we are best meeting their needs. That being said, most people (gravitate) towards the leadership package which encourages organizations to spend the day redefining what it means to work. Connect your company with team building activities while encouraging creativity and personal growth in a 20 percent play vs. 80 percent productivity ratio. Many times when groups have a very tight productivity itinerary, we will slip in lunch on our 49-person SeaTaxi boat so that they can still get some play in while enjoying their lunch.

Q. What does a growing number of places like The Point say about the workplace?

A. I’m quoting the great Bob Dylan “The Times They Are a-Changin’.” The millennials crave a better work/play balance and as they proceed to move up the ranks into leadership positions, you will continue to see more changes.

Q. Do you think the traditional 9-to-5 desk job in the office should be a thing of the past?

A. I don't think the 9-5 desk gig has to go away, but as technology allows us to work more efficiently and communicate in new channels, there should be more flexibility for people to balance their work with their lives.

Q. If you can only give one piece of advice on work/life balance to company leaders, what would it be?

A. Your teams’ overall productivity will increase even if they work less hours by focusing on the balance. Developing a healthy corporate culture that supports this balance directly affects a teams’ happiness with their work life and in turn improves productivity.

Q. What would you like to see companies offer in terms of work/life balance?

A. A few quick fixes organizations can do are not allow employees to eat their lunch at their desk, replace the old ten-minute smoke-break rule with walking breaks, offer chair massages and offer exercise incentives. Many organizations give out Fitbits and have prizes for people accomplishing step goals, Another example would be to sign up the company for 5K walks or adventure races. 

Also encourage people to use their vacation days. That really comes down to managerial styles and making sure they feel empowered to do so and not made to feel guilty. Be flexible in scheduling. Offer work-from-home days, allow people to take off a day and make up the hours on their own time. Let people decide what time they start and end their eight-hour day. 

Also offer mindfulness lunch sessions such as a guided meditation during lunch where people are encouraged to be present, release negativity, increase positive feeling or whatever the message is that day. Other lunch activities could be yoga or a group fitness class.   

Big picture companies need to have someone on staff spearhead corporate culture and health initiatives to develop strategies to maintain them.

About The Point

What: The Point offers packages where clients can work half the time they are there and play the other half. Other packages include as much as 80 percent play and 20 percent work.

Who runs it:  Casey Fields, 32. Her title is chief experience officer. After graduating from Florida State University as a communications major with a minor in business, Casey Fields began working as a non-profit events planner.

Clients: Include Cognizant, MongoDB, Augustana College and Treeline Interactive.