NiteoWeb is a remote-first team. While we do have a physical office in Ljubljana, few people go there regularly. Most of us prefer to work from home, from coffee shops or from the beach. Wherever and whenever we feel we are the most productive.
While remote work certainly has its benefits, it does indeed have its challenges. Building rapport with coworkers is harder over digital channels than it is in person. While we do have a daily stand-up meeting on Google Hangouts where we all gather around a digital campfire for a few minutes every morning, it isn’t enough.
About once a month those of us living in Slovenia try to get together for lunch, a picnic or a local tech meetup. These in-person gatherings are fantastic, but they are geographically limited. It does not make sense for people outside of Slovenia to travel for hours just to attend a lunch. So we started doing semiannual gatherings where the entire team converges on a single physical location to talk, socialize and rant.
We call these gatherings IRLs (“In Real Life”). In the summer we do it in Slovenia (or close by) and during the winter we do it in some warm place around the world. This summer we booked an AirBNB villa in Vodnjan, just across the border with Croatia. What a fantastic place we got!
The summer IRL was two days filled to the brink with insightful talks from the team, mindblowing idea pitches and great discussion about anything and everything. Besides politics, SpaceX and latest hacks we talked about what we as a company should do in near- to mid-term future. We updated our internal policies. And we had tons of great BBQ by the pool. I can’t wait what batshit crazy things we come up with at our next IRL, due in January 2017. In Bangkok!