The remote workplace is here to stay but building remote team culture remains a work in progress.
As in-person gatherings become the norm and remote teams get together again, countless questions can come up: Will my team gel well in the flesh? How will we bridge the gap between Zoom vs. in-person connections? What would an off-site event even look like for my team? These are all questionsRachel Hurley, Director of People Operations at Axiom Cloud, asked herself while planning her first company off-site with Marco.
She needed to foster a communal environment that made her colleagues feel comfortable and engaged while meeting for the first time. Below, Rachel shares three reasons to prioritize hosting an off-site and how Marco helps ensure it’s done right.
Reason #1: Get a better sense for your teammates’ communication styles
As a fully remote team, Axiom plans many virtual opportunities to socialize, such as shared lunches on Fridays. Even then, work often winds up taking priority. As a result, you can have tight-knit teams — but not a tight-knit company culture on an interpersonal level.
Fortunately, when it came time to meet up in person at the Axiom off-site, employees didn’t just break into their usual teams or familiar cliques. Instead, thanks to Marco’s thoughtful event planning, people happily participated in company-wide activities. Plus, once there was downtime, everyone chose to continue actively engaging with one another.
“People chose to rotate around, talking more closely to teammates they maybe didn’t work with every day. It really showed me that folks were genuinely interested in learning about everyone else at the company.”
Reason #2: Activate new creative & dynamic partnerships
In the midst of events focused on communal bonding, Rachel managed to squeeze in a design session with one key goal: putting people who had never worked together in one room and seeing how they communicated. To her pleasant surprise, the session ended with several impressive product ideas and (more importantly) a group of unfamiliar people who were suddenly very comfortable with cross-team collaboration.
For Rachel, the goal is ultimately inclusion and comfort. Even at a startup, you see team members who rarely get the chance to work together. When you place those teammates at work in a shared space, they gain the rare opportunity to see how the other side gets creative. In the end, you can expect to see two results:
It broadens the scope of possibilities — for everything from feedback sources to new cross-team project ideas.
It lets employees celebrate what their co-workers bring to the table.
“People felt a lot more comfortable with cross-team communication after our off-site. Maybe there were teams you otherwise wouldn’t touch while working remotely. But now, you’ve gained an advocate there.”
Reason #3: The positive impact remains — so long as you keep up the cadence of gathering
When an off-site is done right, the impact of that shared in-person experience should reverberate throughout your organization. According to Rachel, teams grow more aware of each other’s experiences and pain points, while previously unfamiliar co-workers feel empowered to reach out and engage with one another. In Axiom’s case, those team-wide benefits only drove home the fact that in-person gatherings and retreats should become quarterly priorities.
Ultimately, if your team walks away from the event feeling more energized, excited to come to work, and comfortable calling on colleagues for help, skills, or support — you’ll know your off-site was an end-to-end success.
“Before the offsite, there was little communication between people you didn’t have an existing relationship with. After the off-site, you really felt like you had a connection with anybody at the company. That has seriously energized us.”