How We Prepare for a Remote Reunion (And Why They’re So Important)


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Ah, the annual company get-together. Most companies have one, whether it’s a dinner, retreat, picnic, or beach day. But for remote companies, the yearly company reunion plays an important role in cultivating and keeping our great remote company culture. The planning, execution, and especially the significance of our annual company events is different than it might be for a physical office.

Even if a reunion involves flying people in from different offices, traditional workplaces are still mostly full of people that see each other, talk to each other, pass each other in the hallway, on a daily basis. On a remote team, we might be in constant communication, we might always be chatting and have frequent video calls, but we rarely get the chance to meet all of our co-workers in person. Because of this, our annual reunion is a key event for us. Through this trip, that often lasts several days, we get the chance to meet in person, build relationships, and make our whole team stronger.

With our company meetup just over a week away, we’re busy finishing up the last minute details. With so many moving pieces and so many people around the world there’s a fair amount of planning and coordination involved, but in the end, the work that goes into this in-person meeting is one of the most important things we do for our company culture.

remote company reunion meetup
The FormAssembly team at Oliver Winery in Bloomington, Indiana, at the 2015 annual meetup.

What Goes Into a FormAssembly Reunion

FormAssembly has been experiencing some pretty remarkable growth lately. From a single-digit staff in recent years to over 30 (and still growing!) as of this month. With growth in the number of team members comes more travel plans to manage, more reservations to make, more food to order, and more planning overall.

We plan ahead as much as possible to set up a packed (but not too packed!) schedule of fun, team building events and activities, and the State of Veer West meeting is an integral part of our meetup as well. The FormAssembly tool itself makes an appearance in our planning activities, as we use FormAssembly forms to organize activity preferences.

remote company reunion form
An activities form makes sure everyone gets a say and information stays organized.

Why Remote Company Reunions Are So Important

We make a big effort to ensure that the reunion is fun for everyone, but beyond the specifics of what we plan and how we plan it, we understand the reunions are a deeply important part of creating a relationship in a remote company. Here’s why they matter and why we take so much care in planning them.

1. They enable us to meet in person.
With a group of team members based out of Bloomington and lots of travelers on the team, we do have other opportunities to interact in person. But the annual retreat is the only time that the entire remote company is in one place at one time. Meeting in person helps even after the retreat, by enriching and deepening our ability to communicate digitally.

2. They help build interpersonal relationships.
Our chat software and the other methods we use to stay in touch help to foster a sense of community, but digital communication still hasn’t quite caught up to the experience of interacting in person. At the reunion, we get to meet and spend time with the real people (not just the faces on a screen) that make our company great.

3. They encourage a sense of unity in the company as a whole.
It’s no secret that remote work can be a challenge at times. Though we do a fantastic job maintaining a strong remote culture, most of us also come from traditional work backgrounds where part of being part of a company meant traveling to a physical office and interacting with co-workers on a daily basis. With the annual State of Veer West meeting and the other team building activities we plan, we get a chance to become closer as a team, which benefits business in the long run.

4. They help us provide better service for our customers.
In addition to the fun activities that help us grow stronger as a team, we’ll also hold a team training session. This kind of focused training helps us maintain a smart, informed workforce, and helps us continue to offer our customers better support and service.

4. They’re fun!
Many of the people on our team have a constant travel bug, and the annual retreat is a great way to combine work and travel (which is what the digital nomad lifestyle is all about). Retreats also function a little bit like a reward and can help make teammates feel more appreciated for the work they do.

Keeping a feeling of community in a remote company takes work. From our individual and group interactions every day to the company wide meetup once a year, we know we have to put in the effort to keep everyone on the same page and maintain great relationships. An annual company retreat is so much more than a simple trip, and the team- and relationship-building benefits are evident in the great product and support we provide to our customers. Investing in team building activities allows us to create a stronger, more unified team that works together to help all our customers achieve their goals.

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