Why an Annual Reunion is Key for our Team (Especially As We Grow)
You’ve probably heard this before.
“Secure your own oxygen mask before helping others.” It’s meant to describe airline safety procedures, but doesn’t it kind of ring true for work as well?
To truly offer the best service to our customers and partners, we have to have our team working smoothly together and contributing to our overall company mission. In a nutshell, that’s the goal of our company reunions.
For our dispersed team (and for any team) social interaction can be used strategically to foster greater collaboration and stronger team relationships. The logistics have changed over the years, but these reunions are an integral part of the success of our team.
We’ll hold this year’s reunion the week of Monday, Aug. 21. Support will be limited during this week as our support team members will be busy in back-to-back team events and activities. We’ll be checking in on urgent issues, but for the most part, the team will be unavailable. Support will resume as usual on Monday, Aug. 28.
What Went Down Last Year
We took the opportunity of the team being in one place at the 2016 reunion to hold a security training, complete a company presentation, and hold department meetings.
A team that plays together stays together! Our reunion purposefully included lots of time designated for team-building and bonding. Last year we participated in activities like:
- A lake day featuring jet skis, kayaks and a pontoon boat
- A casual barbecue/bonfire with an epic cornhole tournament
- A tour of local Bloomington Distillery Cardinal Spirits
To date, all of our team reunions have been held in Bloomington, Indiana, the birthplace of FormAssembly. While you might think it’s just another midwest town, there’s a lot more to Bloomington than meets the eye:
- #2 – Small Area in Terms of High-Tech Concentration (Milken Institute, 2013)
- #1 – Best City for Work Life Balance (Forbes)
- #30 – Best Cities for Entrepreneurs (Entrepreneur/Livability)
What’s on Tap for This Year
Our team has grown a lot over the past year. We numbered roughly 25 people at last year’s reunion, but this year we are expecting approximately 40 teammates attending. Nearly doubling our size also means more complicated logistics, but as we grow it’s even more important to make sure that everyone is on the same page culturally.
This year, we’ve got a packed agenda. We’ll spend some time working in the office and undergoing team trainings, and then spend some much needed time on team-building activities and unstructured bonding time.
How We Plan Our Reunion
Reunion planning started early this year, and came with all the hassles of planning a normal reunion, added to the fact that all or most of the planning happens digitally. After settling on a time that works for 40-odd remote teammates, we collaborate on our chat platform to create memorable reunion experiences and plan activities that everyone will love.
How Our Reunion Builds a Stronger Team
The reunions are important because they allow you put faces to names, so to speak. Adding a human element is very important in helping you to empathize with your team members. It gives everybody the opportunity to create non-work experiences with each other, something that is difficult in a remote culture. These experiences can only help to strengthen individual relationships and the team as a whole.
Michael Stathers | Infrastructure Operations Engineer
Being together as a team allows us to really fine-tune our communication. It’s so easy to attribute tone and meaning via written communication (our main form of communication as a team!), but having time to really get to know each other in person allows us to add personality into the mix. It really clears up a lot of communication confusion!
Ashley McAlpin | VP of Marketing (Formerly Director of Marketing) | @McAlpinCreative
A reunion is integral for any group of folks to succeed, ours is not just an opportunity to learn about one another at the personal level but to evolve our understanding of how to succeed together and have fun doing it.
Steven Watkins | Email Marketing Specialist | @StevenKWatkins
Coming together as a team at the reunion is a great way to establish more personal connections, and that, in turn, builds trust. Trust is crucial when working in a remote environment because you have to rely on someone you cannot directly engage with and/or affect. The reunion provides opportunities for teammates to have casual conversations and get to know one another while connecting on a deeper level. Those connections help strengthen and grow the idea of having a stronger team vs. stronger players and enhance the overall communication and collaboration of everybody involved.
Brittany Arnett | Product Manager (former employee)