Remote First Doesn’t Mean Remote Only: How to Create Amazing IRL Moments in a Remote World
At twine, we live, eat, and breathe remote work. We are not only a remote-first company, we are focused on solving the problem of employee connection for remote and distributed teams. We’re helping organizations foster belonging, community, and connection in a world that is becoming more distributed.
But at twine, remote first doesn’t mean remote only. Most of our team came from the live events industry, so we fundamentally believe in and understand the importance of face to face, human connection.
Every quarter, our team gets together for an in-person off-site. We democratically vote on a new location each quarter, meet there for 3-4 days, and spend time connecting with each other. These trips have become everyone’s favorite week of the quarter. As the resident #eventprof I almost always raise my hand to plan these off-sites for our team. It lets me flex my event design muscles and reminds me of the impact that creating memorable experiences can have on a team.
The goals of our off-sites are simple; build connections within our team, brainstorm and work on the big, strategic questions that are hard to do virtually, and have fun.
When you’re bringing a remote team together in person from all over the world, intentionality is key. You’re asking people to commute, travel, get Covid tests, leave young kids at home, and invest 3 days of time. To ensure we’re accomplishing what we want at these off-sites, we leverage three design principles:
Usually it’s product team members spending time with sales, marketing spending time with engineering, but we also intentionally split up the natural cliques that form to ensure we’re spending our IRL time building up new connections amongst the team.
For our off-sites, we often get different team members to help with different aspects ranging from making the off-site playlist, helping pick restaurants, organizing the welcome gifts, being in charge of hosting a happy hour, or organizing a holiday gift exchange. This ends up creating a bit more to coordinate, but the more people you involve in the planning process of these experiences, the more it feels like a team effort, which results in more buy-in.
Off-sites can be an expensive line item on the budget both in terms of hard costs and in opportunity cost of your whole team not being at their desks for a week, but if properly designed and curated, the return from a good off-site or retreat are immeasurable. We always notice a more connected, engaged, and energized team after the off-sites and it always results in a higher level of productivity and output when they return home.
How are planners supposed to run two independent events, one for virtual participants, and one for in person? Do planners need to think about crossing the streams?
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