I’m writing this on a plane high up above Europe heading towards an airport in Poland, where 3 members of my team will pick me up and we’ll drive together to a small hotel in the middle of nowhere… to meet the rest of our Nozbe team and spend a week together. I can’t wait! We don’t have any office. Everyone on my team, including the CEO - me, works from home - so we’re really looking forward to this week! That’s why I decided to share how we’re approaching our all-team meeting. Here goes:
Yes, seriously, we all work from home. Really…
I’ve been writing about teleworking and showing off my home office which actually is my MAIN office… and people still write to me and say: “why don’t we meet at your office?”… or “where are you based?” like if it mattered. Well, it doesn’t matter. Not to us at least… and most of all, it really doesn’t matter to any of the Nozbe customers. We’re a team of folks spread across Europe… and starting today we’re going to spend a week together and we can’t wait for it to start, here’s why:
When you don’t work at the same place, you’re looking forward to meet your co-workers
In my post about teleworking I explained our rationale behind working from home. This is our lifestyle choice and we love it. We have the liberty to work from any place and form a very productive and efficient team… while being spread across the continent. It works great for us, we communicate through tasks, chat, video calls… and we love it… but at least once a year we need to see each other in person. We’re looking forward to it.
Recharging batteries while spending time together
Believe it or not, but we really like each other. We have our differences, various points of view, and very diverse characters… but we appreciate each other and really enjoy working together. That’s why we can’t wait to actually spend time in the same place. Here’s how it’s going to go down:
1. A hotel in the middle of nowhere
For this meeting we chose a place literally in the middle of woods and mountains, far a way from the nearest big city. After our past meetings in cities like Barcelona or Cracow, we decided to go with something that wouldn’t offer us any distractions. It’d be just us - just our team - we’d have time to work together, play games, take some hikes, run, just be together.
2. Just the core team + newcomers
In the past, we offered an opportunity for the significant others of our team members to come over… and it was great - we got to know our colleagues in the “context” of their partners. We got to know new people this way.
This time around we decided to make it a real “just work and play” meeting so we didn’t take our life partners with us. Just the core team. Let’s geek out.
We also invited 3 newcomers - people we hired in the last month to our support team. They’ll come for the last three days of the meeting. This way we’ll get to hang out with people we know first… and they’ll not have too much of us right off the bat. So today (Monday) the core team is coming and on Friday the newcomers… and we’re officially ending the meeting on Sunday morning after breakfast.
3. Full board - food ordered beforehand
When we met last year in Barcelona, we spent way too much time “fetching food” - searching for restaurants and bars. This time, the food is already taken care of. We’ll have breakfasts, lunches and dinners… and the only thing we can optionally think about is good beer and wine (in reasonable quantities, of course :-)
4. Schedule dictated by the sun
It’s Autumn (Fall) here in Europe - it’s getting dark after 4 pm already, so we decided to work in the morning right after breakfast… then take a break at noon until a late lunch at 3 pm… and continue working after lunch until the dinner… and beyond.
This way we’ll have 3 hours in the middle of the day for leisure activities like sports, hiking, jogging… or whatever we please. I’ll report back later how it went and if we were successful with this plan imposed on us by the sun.
5. Time for the company, teams… and one-on-one meetings
Speaking of the schedule, we decided to have the morning for company-wide meetings to discuss Nozbe - the past (lessons learned), the present (current issues) and future (where we’re headed). Later we’ll see how things will progress, but we also want to work in teams so that our engineering, customer support and marketing teams can work together “physically”… as they never get a chance to do that.
And when the teams work together, I’d like to be able to always take someone on the side to have a chance for an hour of one-on-one meeting. To talk about our work and life: the good, the bad and the ugly :-)
6. Leisure time - sharing passions, sports and memories
We’ll also try to organize some additional activities - we’ll see what’s possible and we’ll try to get as many of us on board… to share some additional memories together. I’ll write more about it after we’ve done some of these. I already know I’ll be jogging with Rafal - my Product Manager, playing tennis with Magda - my COO, playing soccer and basketball with my engineering team… and I’m sure there’s going to be more…
7. Training - because we want to learn together
Entire Thursday will be dedicated to a “project management” training done by one of the best PM coaches in Poland. He’s a good friend and a regular contributor to the Productive! Magazine (Polish edition) and we hired him to come over and help us improve our project management skills. I’m sure this will be really great!
Wow, that’s a lot to do in a week, right?
Yes, it’s going to be an intensive week for all of us. That’s why I’m writing so much about it here… but I wanted to share how we work and how we approach a meeting like this. We already know that we won’t be able to do everything we set out to do… it’s too little time… and after a year of not seeing each other we want to do so much!
That’s why we’re already planning our next meeting in Spring…
Question: Do you do all-team meetings? How do you approach them?