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This blog was co-authored by myself and Simon Darken.
Once a year, PagerDuty’s SREs get together for a three-day, in-person offsite. With the team spread across three time zones in the U.S. and Canada, encompassing two offices and three remote members, face time is rare and valuable. We use our offsites for thoughtful discussions on team health, long-term project roadmap planning, refining and updating our team’s mission, and to simply spend time together as a team.
“I wish we could get together more often,” is one of the recurring comments from team members. Sadly, it would be difficult to gather the team more than once a year from both a logistical and financial standpoint. What’s a distributed team to do?
Enter the virtual offsite. What is it exactly? With the aid of a laptop and a handful of online collaboration tools, a virtual offsite allows teams to maintain a regular cadence of focused group discussions and long-term planning conversations from the comfort of their own homes. Through the magic of the interwebs, teams can enjoy many of the benefits of an in-person offsite—all without the expense and logistical challenges.
With a couple of successful virtual offsites now under our collective belts, we’d like to share some tips on how your team can conduct a successful virtual offsite.
A Few Weeks Before
You’ll probably only have one or two people waiting to speak at any time
but this photo gives you an idea what the hats looked like.
We got stars from a local party supplies store but homemade stars worked just as well. One team member used red and green shoes as a substitute!
Nothing beats an in-person offsite to increase team bonding, but with a little planning, it really is possible to have an engaging virtual offsite. Get creative and find ways to encourage participation and collaboration. Consider the agenda carefully and spend time preparing to ensure success. And on the day of the offsite, make everyone equal by having everyone attend remotely.
As more and more companies move toward a distributed workforce, it’s imperative to find ways to bring teams together—and a virtual offsite is just one option you can add to your tool belt.
For PagerDuty’s SRE Team, feedback has been universally positive, and our offsites have brought tangible benefits for team communication and project planning. Try it and let us know how it works for you!
Good luck and have fun!
Your team had been fighting this major incident for hours, but your investigation was hitting one dead end after another. Finally, you managed to isolate...
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