Remote work is reshaping the workforce and driving a need for co-working initiatives that allow employees to meet face-to-face and connect at a deeper level. International co-working takes the act of bringing co-workers together one step further by fostering real connections through unique cultural experiences.
What Is a Co-Work World Retreat?
Co-Work World is a peer-led retreat that brings together employees at a global destination to encourage team building, volunteering, and cultural exchange.
Co-Work World Retreat 2022: Medellín, Colombia
In March 2022, employees from different teams journeyed to Medellín, Colombia to co-work together and give back to the local community. Led by Velocity Global’s Vice President of Talent Acquisition, Kokoro V. Robinson, the group of 10 co-workers collaborated on achieving South American talent acquisition goals.
While in Colombia, the Velocity Global team learned how to colive together by sharing two different rental homes. Like co-working, coliving helped break down barriers between team members.
“Getting disparate co-workers that are based all around the world to be able to come together and meet up with other co-workers brings a level of closeness,” Robinson says. “It improves our efficiency [and] it improves our communication with one another.”
During this first retreat, the co-working team tightened their bond by taking in as much culture as possible.
Staying in the vibrant Provenza commune, the team ended up being just steps away from the epicenter of Medellín nightlife and cuisine, with plenty of delicious Colombian restaurants to choose from. The team also took a day trip to the town of Jericó to visit a bustling coffee farm and stayed in the town of Guatapé for picturesque views of the Colombian jungle.
As Velocity Global People Enablement Specialist Isabel Tobón explains, traveling around with co-workers was a very formative experience that is miles away from being in an office.
“You start to discover things about yourself that you weren’t aware of, like how to have fun and be more adaptable,” Tobón says.
Along with new cultural experiences, one of the most important parts of the first Co-Work World Retreat was creating a cultural exchange that involved giving back to the community.
To do this, Velocity Global co-workers partnered with Nomads Giving Back and Nomads Skillshare to set up volunteer shifts at a daycare center that provides local kids with a safe place to go after school.
“You fly into a country, you stay there for a couple of weeks, you fly out, but how can you give back?” Robinson asks. “How can you leave something within that country that says ‘thank you for the hospitality that you’ve shown me.’ It’s that cultural exchange that we’re hoping to continue.”
Choosing a Global Co-Working Destination
Choosing a global co-working destination comes down to finding a place that will foster synergy and business growth. Being in Medellín allowed the team of 10 co-workers to meet with organizations and other local Velocity Global employees to collaborate and share skills.
Medellín is a beautiful, culturally rich city that is considered a gateway to South America. In the past several years, the city has become a welcoming hub for traveling professionals, with many co-working hostels and specialized communities designed for digital nomads, including Nomads Skillshare.
Founded by Tarek Kholoussy, Nomads Skillshare is an online platform where digital nomads can create a community anywhere by sharing knowledge and advice. As a partner of Nomads Giving Back, Nomads Skillshare also gives back by offering scholarships within area schools to create more local talent.
As part of this Co-Work World Retreat, Robinson and Kholoussy hosted a Nomads Skillshare networking event at the Selina coworking hostel with remote professionals across the world. Both the networking event and the Co-Work World Retreat helped lay the groundwork for building up South American talent, which will allow more international businesses to tap into a continent of exceptional employment resources.
“We think that this can help change lives because there’s not much that’s holding back amazing people in local communities,” Kholoussy says. “The only difference, oftentimes, is a skill that is not hard to learn.”
What’s Next for Co-Work World?
From this pilot program, Velocity Global plans to expand Co-Work World into a recurring retreat that will happen several times per year and feature a new country every trip. Eventually, the option to host a Co-Work World Retreat will be offered to clients and supported employees across the world.
“The goal is for this to be a long-term initiative,” Robinson says. “We’re thinking about Spain, Costa Rica, Vietnam, Iceland—a bunch of different locations.”
Beyond the destination, Co-Work World is here to spotlight Velocity Global’s proactive, people-first approach toward uniting cultures and giving back through the belief that employees can work from anywhere, anyhow.
“Working for Velocity Global is definitely a blessing,” Tobón concludes. “Not many companies say that they put people first and actually put people first.”
Learn more about Velocity Global’s Co-Work World initiative here.