In an all-remote team, getting together every now and then in “real life” is key. Every year we try to organize a Nozbe Reunion in Spring and in Fall. This year is different. Our Spring reunion got cancelled due to covid-19 pandemic and we hoped we’d get to see each other this Fall. This didn’t happen so we decided to go ahead and we organized a virtual reunion. Here’s how it went down.
Details of our Nozbe Virtual Reunion
My colleague Magda wrote a great blog post about the details and she summed it up perfectly:
The Nozbe Virtual Reunion was an important event for us. We couldn’t meet in person in the spring, and as a fully remote team, we felt we needed a get-together in whatever form possible. This meeting, although not perfectly planned, let us close physical gaps through virtual solutions and brought our team together during such a critical time.
Additional observations from me as the CEO
Below are some thoughts of mine on this special and strange reunion.
Personally it was weird doing a reunion online but I didn’t feel like I had any other option. As the CEO I’m responsible for everyone on my team and I couldn’t risk their health by even trying to pull off a normal reunion where I’d get everyone to the same place as usual. The law at the time would let me do it, but my conscience wouldn’t.
As an all-remote team, we know how to work together from our homes, but having 20+ people hang out together is a different thing.
Some of the things that made this a success:
- Gadgets and props - we shipped lots of stuff to people - gadgets like masks, socks, shirts and props for cooking like sushi set, coffee, beers and drinks set. After all, we’re not paying for the lodging, food and travel, so we should just send stuff to people and unpack it together.
- Surprises - most of the above-mentioned items were a total surprise to people and they loved that. They felt like on Christmas morning unpacking the boxes and discovering what they got. Even when we enrolled some of the team to help us out, hardly anyone knew everything, so they still felt the element of surprise.
- Casual off-work week - I think that just giving this week off to people was a great idea. Every day we knew we weren’t going to work, we were going to just do something together, but no stress about day-to-day work. This was much needed in the time of the pandemic.
- Online games rock! - I finally discovered the much-hyped AmongUs and loved it. We also did other games together and it was lots of fun.
I hope this pandemic will be under control soon, but the current situation doesn’t inspire confidence, so if we’re to do another virtual reunion in Spring, we’ve got some things we’d improve:
- Prepare stuff more in advance, ship more of it and get more people involved while keeping the element of surprise level even higher!
- Better agenda with more presentations or other workshops from more people from the team on their passions and things that keep them interested. We’ve got a team of 20+ people who are very talented and very intelligent and I’d love to have them share this with the rest of our team!
- More usage of breakout rooms when doing stuff together. Cooking with so many people at a time is fun, but most people felt they needed to be muted. I think we should split our team to smaller groups more often to inspire casual conversations.
There’s one thing we can’t improve and it’s the fact that we’re home with our families. The cool part of a Nozbe reunion was that we had to travel to a hotel, far away from our families and we could really disconnect. With a reunion that takes place home it was hard not to feel responsible for the family or take care of some kids drama every now and then.
Anyway, a reunion in a physical space for an all-remote team is still hands-down a much better option, but having a virtual reunion has its benefits and it went actually better than we expected.