The SaaSBoomi team is spread across different cities in India. Which means oftentimes faces are confined to screens and conversations are largely transactional – echoing tasks and updates. As much as I love the flexibility that remote work offers, at times async work can leave you feeling a bit disassociated.
While we do enjoy our weekly team huddles, and try to get a faint pulse of what life is like on the other side of our screens, it’s a pale comparison to how that conversation may organically flow when you’re face-to-face.
Yet, as the days roll by and you dive into your routine – ticking tasks off to-do lists, rallying a mammoth community to pull off some of the most impactful events, and ensuring the SaaS-India engine steadily chugs along – it’s great to punctuate our busy schedules with an offsite.
Offsites offer more than a quick disconnect from work. They’re a perfect blend of environment, learning, and connection – a space to actually spend time to really get to know your teammate. They’re also a hub of conversations that churn out fresh ideas and perspectives.
A couple of months ago, our team of 13 odd gathered in Bangalore and headed out to Vama Retreat nestled away from the buzz of the city at the calm foothills of Bangalore’s Nandi Hills. Magic unfolded between hearty meals, a feisty game of cricket, navigating obstacle courses, and a night of a lot of laughter and lengthy conversations about milestones that have shaped us.
Here’s a peek at the highlights that transpired and what I’ve walked away with apart from good memories.
From Sharing screens to sharing stories
Icebreaker activities are usually mundane, but oddly a necessary ritual especially for virtual teams. These casual and unscripted conversations are key to unraveling each other’s quirks, strengths, and aspirations. Sometimes they’re even an opportunity to discover something new from someone whom you might not have a lot in common with.
Tapping into personal stories like this isn’t easy though. But one thing that the SaaSBoomi team does exceptionally well (and has been with its initiatives over the last 4 years) – is creating a safe space, whether that’s a space to learn, share, or feel included.
We exchanged stories well into the night about the key moments in life that have shaped us as people we are today. This was a deep insight into the drive, resilience, and the values we hold in life as – both professionals working as a team and as people part of a larger community.
Hearing everyone’s stories, I couldn’t help but notice a common thread of emotion that connected all our experiences even though we’ve all grown up in different cities, cultures, communities, and even different generations for a few 🙂
Who we are as individuals stretches well into our work. If as a team, we’re able to look beyond our work experiences, and appreciate the lived experiences that have shaped us; the workplace becomes a haven for enriched discussions, an eagerness to collaborate, and a sense of shared purpose.
Meaningful conversations like these can also help us rediscover what draws us to an organization’s culture. Most company cultures don’t make it out of the onboarding document. But offsites offer an opportunity to live this culture in the moment – through spontaneous conversations over shared meals, or while your teammates cheer you on and give you the last shred of courage needed to make it across a wobbly rope bridge on the obstacle course 🙂
Most of us know there’s no escape from stressful days at work, but I often find myself enjoying the work regardless of the hectic days because of the wonderful people I get to work with.
Learning beyond boardrooms
Stories connect teams, but all teams are still a diverse group of people that are just built differently. Every person has their own communication style, they work better at different hours, may accept or give feedback differently. This can get in the way of collaboration when you’re remote. To smoothen how we operate Matthew from our team introduced us to the idea of creating our very own User Manuals.
If you aren’t too sure of what User Manuals mean for a team? They’re a great tool for personal workstyle reflections. Each of us took some time to pen down how we’d like to collaborate.
We then exchanged notes on how we function as professionals, how we’d like to receive feedback, and how to best communicate with us. All of this was then compiled to build out a user-manual of sorts about how we work and ideal collaborations styles.
This has been by far one of the most helpful exercises I’ve engaged in. It forced me to think of ways I should be communicating to get the most of someone’s time .Reading everyone’s User Manual also exposes you to newer and possibly better ways of communication that can lead to better collaboration style within the team.
Remote teams operate a lot on trust and a sense of self accountability. And if you can fit your collaboration style clearly on a single page – you’re bound to have clarity with the way you work and a little testament to your committed work style.
Back to Zoom meets, but better
For someone who has newly joined the team, I finally have more things to ask about in a next call, apart from just the mundane “How’s your day going?”
The drive back to the city left me still reminiscing about our short time together and how great it was to meet the faces behind such feats at SaaSBoomi.
While we ease back into our day-to-day operations, come Monday – I noticed something changed. I can shrug off any awkwardness or hesitation to ask questions, say hi, and feel more open to sharing moments.
One thing at SaaSBoomi has been evident from day 1 – There’s alway going to be more.
More to-dos’, more events and initiatives, and certainly more growth.
But in quiet moments like this it is nice to come together, reconnect and reboot.
Cheers to a wonderful team! There was a lot of thought, planning, and time that went into our short time together. Amrutha and Jay, you deserve all the credit and appreciation for pulling off a wonderful get-away for the whole team.