This article narrates why we bring people from different corners of the world together during offsites, and captures its impact on team members.
Axelerant Frontend Engineer, Lydia Solomon, dashed out of her home to make it inside the cab without getting wet. It had been raining for two days in her home city, Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia.
At 11 PM, she boarded a flight to travel about 2800 miles to the heart of the Indian peninsula, in Bengaluru, India.
To attend the twelfth offsite of the season.
What Do We Mean By An Offsite?
We are a 100% remote organization. Had been so for over a decade now.
An offsite, for us, means meeting each other, in person, at some exotic location.
Onsite, on the other hand, refers to our homes from where we work the rest of the year.
As you may imagine, the very word "offsite" holds a powerful ring of appeal for every Axelerant team member.
Well, almost for every team member.
How Do We Bring People From Across The Globe Together?
They are responsible for bringing groups of people—belonging to different teams and scattered worldwide—together to a single point in time and location.
They ensure that every little detail—from the food menu to transport to stay arrangements—and way more than a line can fit, flows smoothly.
It requires meticulous planning, vision, and an uncanny drive to bring clarity and take action.
"It all starts with finalizing the dates. And we go from there to ultimately creating events that bring people closer," said Surabhi.
"It all boils down to people care. When you genuinely want people to have memorable experiences, it becomes easier. Instead of worrying about all the things that might go wrong, you're thinking about how to make things feel right for someone," Sharayu shared.
Why Do We Invest In Having Offsites?
You may say:
If you can work 365 days from home, why do you need to connect in-person during offsites?
Why not bond over an org-wide video call, play some fun games, eat some good Axelerant-sponsored food, and leave it at that?
Why sponsor people to meet face-to-face when the alternative is much less costly and hassle-free?
It's a valid question. And there are several important reasons for bringing people together in a physical location.
To See People Beyond Their Roles, As Human Beings
Even in a physical office, most conversations tend to be transactional, related to one's work.
In a remote setting, focused on meeting project deadlines and delivering work, it's easy to forget that real people are behind the names on the screen.
"Some people in my team only knew me as a name and an image. We had never met because I mostly coordinate with project managers," said Hetal Mistry, Director of Delivery Services.
And Just Connect With Them
Axelerant Social Media Associate, Bipasha Sharma, collaborates with people every day to create content. She had her first offsite in October 2022.
"I joined Axelerant in January. But until my first offsite, I couldn't feel that deep connection. Once I met everyone from my team, it felt much easier to collaborate and reach out to them," she said.
Drupal Staff Engineer Kalaiselvan Swamy is usually cautious about how he has fun.
"I've always avoided getting wet in the rain so that I don't catch a cold. Always playing it safe. Yet, in Goa, we just started running on the beach while it was raining heavily," Kalai recalled.
"That simple experience of enjoying the moment with the team brought us closer," he said.
Reiterate A Shared Purpose
At Axelerant, we constantly look for ways to improve our people and customer experience.
"We introduced several changes in the past year that will help us grow and bring in more opportunities," Hetal shared.
It was on Hetal and her team to describe the changes and their operational impact on the team members.
"The offsites helped me explain things and address queries and concerns on the spot," she said.
Sure, sharing a PDF of our vision with a catchy title would be more convenient.
But how much would that help someone wanting clarity about how their career would progress?
Celebrate Our Core Values
These values aren't just marketing symbols we've taken up to look cool.
They guide us in everything we do.
Because without values, who's to say where to stop and which path to take? Companies, like people, can go wayward.
If anything, its chances are higher because it depends on people from varied experiences to make crucial decisions.
Our values bring us to the same page. They anchor us to a stable core of kindness, love for what we do, and openness.
And, Of Course, To Have Fun
When Surabhi got up on the stage to host her first trivia after planning the event—prizes, questions, point structure, etc.—she felt nauseous.
Her heartbeat drummed ahead, before she could utter any words.
"I had the worst stage fright!" she laughed.
But these behind-the-scenes hiccups don't deter her, or her team, from giving their best to make every event memorable.
Does It Make Any Difference To Meet Your Team In-Person?
Axelerant Director of Marketing Nathan Roach and I bonded over a bottle of Riesling (he had brought it from Germany), talking about art, sports, and his stay in Japan.
It was one of several memorable conversations I had with my team members during my first offsite in a gorgeous nature resort in Himachal Pradesh, India.
And it utterly transformed how I saw each team member.
For instance, many saw me as this cold, composed person who only cared about his writing. That image was shattered within the first five hours of meeting me.
It Deepens People’s Bonds
Nathan believes quality, in-person events can bring people closer to the organization and team members.
Quality Assurance Lead Saranya Rajaram met her team for the first time since joining in 2022, in Goa.
"I remember the sleepless nights. The chatting, dancing, singing, and playing UNO. We all bonded like never before," she shared.
Enhances Kindness Among People
Most of us, at some point, had to leave our insecurities, problems, and emotions outside the door at work.
Over time, training ourselves to bury the "unsorted" part and don a smiling, ever-eager-to-work personality.
Consequently, in front of the camera, everyone always looks lively and perfect.
"In the offsite, I saw that others had the same concerns and problems. It made me feel kinder to them," shared Kalaiselvan.
An exercise that enriched this sense of kindness was writing gratitude cards, where every person wrote what they liked about their colleagues.
Boosts Work Synergy
Conversations in a remote setting differ from talking in person with someone.
In virtual meetings, it's best to prepare the agenda beforehand and have an objective for the discussion—to save people's time and energy.
And it works wonderfully for the greater part of the year.
But occasionally, we come together to say things that float to the surface through spontaneous conversations.
"People get a chance to discuss their real challenges in these events organically. And we get a trove of ideas and solutions," shared Hetal.
And Reminds People Of What's Most Important
Growth of the organization and its people and the bonds we form among us.
During the leadership offsite, Axelerant CEO Ankur Gupta and the directors focused on charting the organization's future growth strategy.
"I could see how dedicatedly the directors focused on people's pain points. Throughout the sessions, the intention was to improve people's Axelerant experience. I felt so proud," he shared.
When I asked people where they would prefer to meet for their next offsite, I got a list of names.
One answer, by Saranya, struck me as the most befitting.
"It's not about the location. It's about the company we have. And the people here are amazing, energetic, and fun-loving. So any place is fine."
Rohit Ganguly, Content Marketer
Rohit is a content marketer first and a YouTuber second. He loves to interact with animals, feed them, clean his apartment, and spend time with friends and family. Curious by nature, he also enjoys literature, movies, meditation, and calligraphy.