Independent Design & Technology studio working with organizations revitalizing urban communities.

Category Culture

Working as a remote team comes with definitive challenges. Don’t let flashy speakers or well designed slideshows or perky eyed new hires sway you any other way. Inevitably, the challenge of working separately will rear an ugly head and cause conflict. Most of them small, but at times, detrimental to the team as a whole. How can these risks be mitigated?

One of the ways we aim to fend off remote blues is to facilitate all-team retreats at least twice a year. Sometimes with the team only, and other times with the team and their spouses and partners.

Remote work challenges aside—best left for another post entirely—we feel we can control at least one element of this environment (togetherness) by getting everyone to gather in a new place to eat, drink, and mingle for at least a few days.

We recently returned from the Pacific Northwest, roughly 2 hours from Portland’s downtown, in the Oceanside area of the Oregon coast. We rented a large beach house with full views of the ocean’s waxing and waning tides, and provided us all a place to relax into time not dictated by workloads. Togetherness, brainstorming, and new adventures were the only items on the docket.

Personally, it was the first time I packed up my bike and went on two rides, in Portland and on the coast, to take in new surroundings. Portland was overcast a chilly, while the coast was sunny and windy. As any cyclist knows, when a face full of crisp air hits you on a descent, you feel alive in a different way. I look forward to a future team member that wants to bring their bike along, too!

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We would lazily wake up, make hearty breakfasts, and set course for the day ahead. Depending on the mood, we’d dive into brainstorming, or decide to take that conversation to a hike on Cape Lookout to the south. Casually poking fun with the team along our own private beach somehow makes the talk of “business” feel very un-business-like.

Morning moments on the beach and evenings making food on the patio are one thing, but the Pacific coast vibes further reiterated for us that time connecting as a team is a core tenant for our company, and will always be, for our ongoing growth.

It’s an element in the glue that keeps our team operating at the highest level, and one of many ways we can stay energized and ready for what’s next. Even though we’ve said goodbye to Oregon, her lessons remain strong in our hearts and minds.

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