And her matching photo of yours truly. :)
I can testify first hand that those work. I, for one, had an amazing time, both on professional and personal levels!
Originally posted on Toni.org:
I just got back from an exhilarating, week long Automattic company meetup in San Diego. We’ve now done 9 full company meetups over the last 6 years (plus dozens of smaller team ones), and I wanted to write down some tips on how to run a company meetup while it’s fresh in my mind:
1. Focus on connecting people: We call our get-togethers meetups – instead of off-sites or retreats – because our primary goal is to get everyone on the team to meet and to get to know each other better (not to get away or retreat from our office). We’re distributed (mostly working from home), so in-person meetups are especially important for us, but I think it would be beneficial to any company to get everyone together once or twice a year to spend time with each other to deepen personal connections and get to know the “people behind the jobs”.
2. Make it a hack week: From our very first meetup of 8 people all the way through to last week’s at 122 people, we’ve always spent a good portion of the week co-working on projects and launching them at the end of the week. With a small team it was everyone working on tasks from our then current to do lists. As our group got bigger, we started having more planned out projects for multiple teams. The projects are designed to be interesting to the group, have components that everyone can contribute to, and be small enough so they can be launched quickly to get a sense of achievement and completion. Most recently we’ve refined the model to ask people to suggest project ideas ahead of the meetup, then create teams based on those ideas with the goal of mixing people who usually don’t work together into teams and letting people lead teams who haven’t done so in the past. Other than launching cool stuff (we have a demo session for all the projects at the end of the week that is super fun), the projects have the obvious benefit of people getting to know each other by brainstorming and building things together.