As a fully distributed company and one that supports others to establish and maintain their remote workforce, working anywhere is both who we are and what we do.
Because of this, we know more than anyone the benefits of a remote workforce: greater access to global talent, more flexibility for employees, and increased team productivity (to name a few). However, we still understand the value and importance of coming together.
For some teams, that may look like a hybrid arrangement or regular in-person events. For others, a company retreat may be a better fit.
At Velocity Global, we’ve maintained an annual company week where we invite every global team member to come together at our Denver HQ to connect and celebrate the year’s achievements.
In addition to this annual observance, we saw some team members coming together in smaller groups throughout the year to utilize our work-from-anywhere policy. This peer-led initiative grew into an ongoing initiative we named Co-Work World Retreats.
Co-Working From Spain and Portugal
Our most recent Co-Work World Retreat saw a group of Velocity Global teammates and their families come together to live, co-work, and explore across Barcelona, Alicante, and Lisbon.
“As with any Co-Work Retreat, people have the option to come for all of it or a part of it,” says Mary Moessinger, our Internal Communications Manager.
“The initial destination was Barcelona, so a core group met up there, and then others joined for the Alicante portion, with a smaller group going on to Lisbon.”
In each location, the group stayed together in a large house where they shared meals, worked together during the week, and booked sightseeing activities on the weekends.
“We tried to pick houses with many different common areas,” Mary says. “That way, there were options when people had calls or wanted more privacy.”
For example, the Alicante property had various undercover outdoor spaces with tables and chairs, a deck, a pool area, and various indoor spaces.
What made this even easier to manage was the fact that everyone stuck to different work schedules.
Depending on their situation, some people shifted entirely to the new time zone, while others chose to keep their start and finish times to stay within their usual working hours back home.
Switching up work hours also meant fitting in more pool time, coffee runs, and city wandering.
“I think the great thing about Velocity Global is that there’s a lot of flexibility,” Mary says.
“Having control of your schedule makes that juggle of being in an interesting new country that you want to explore, getting your work done, and meeting new people, a little bit easier.”
Expanding the Velocity Global Family
This was the first retreat where the group extended invitations to family and friends.
“I knew I was invited into something really important to my wife, and she’d been so excited about this opportunity to meet some of her colleagues,” says Justin Wauters, the husband of one of our Training Program Associates, Davina Miller.
“I had no idea what to expect, but it was amazing how quickly everyone made us feel at home and part of an extended family.”
Working While Traveling
In addition to co-working, the group also made some time for sightseeing.
“We did an excursion to a small village up in the hills,” Mary says. “They had lots of arts and crafts. So we spent the day going all around to the different shops.”
There were also plenty of meals together and even a night of flamenco.
“We had paella one night where they came out with a huge barrel-sized dish which was amazing,” Mary says.
But there were plenty of nights in as well that were just as special.
“Because there were people from so many different backgrounds and cultures in the same space, even just cooking dinner at home was an event,” Justin says.
“The fact that everyone was choosing something different to cook and share made every dinner so enjoyable, and seeing how grateful everyone was and respectful of the entire process was so memorable.”
Benefits of Retreats for Distributed Teams
“It’s really hard to replicate those in-person moments that you have in a more traditional work setting,” Mary says. “So, periodically having that face-to-face time with people really strengthens those relationships.”
The effects of these intimate experiences are hard to quantify, yet it’s obvious when you see them. Shared experiences build trust, which can mean better teamwork, loyalty, and a greater sense of banding together and working toward a common goal.
Mary is quick to point out that these connection points don’t have to be overly structured or planned out.
“It’s the small moments that are part of daily life. You know, going into the kitchen and you’re getting some food for yourself, and somebody else walks in, so you offer to get food for them too,” she says. “Just those little common courtesies that add up to feeling cared for.”
Initiatives like Co-Work World allow a team’s humanity to come to the forefront.
“The people of Velocity Global are definitely the strength of the company,” Mary says. “And with Co-Work World Retreats, we’re taking advantage of that element of nimbleness that while we all work from anywhere, we can come together anytime too.”