I went to Vegas for work. Yup. Vegas. That place where people go to gamble and party and all that? I even managed to sort of very vaguely learn how a person might play craps should they be inclined to do such things. Which I am not, but it was fun to watch the gambling skills of my colleagues Simon and Steve.
Together with 20 of my colleagues, I spent 5 days at the Downtown Grand. During the day we gathered at Work in Progress, a local coworking space with a great garage space with tons of space for us to spread out. We spent our days talking about goals for ourselves as leads, as divisions, and as teams. Overall, it was a successful meetup, and quite possibly the most work intensive meetup I’ve been to in my 5 years at Automattic.
Don’t get me wrong, we get a lot of work done at meetups, it’s our MO to capitalize on the face to face time that we get during those 4-7 days spent away from our families. These are not by any means goofing off holidays even though we often take a day or a half day to sightsee. But this meetup was particularly work intensive, for a couple of reasons. We don’t typically gather as leads, more often than not a meetup at a8c is made up of people on a team or people working on a specific project. And we made this one short since January is typically a super busy time for support at a8c (short-hand for Automattic). So it was important to honor our teams and use every moment of every day carefully and wisely.
We started our days at 9 am sharp and worked through till 6 or 6:30 with a lunch break. We took a brief moment to head over to Zappos over lunch one day since they’re in the neighborhood to have a tour, a Q&A, and lunch with our tour guides. I’ve never been to Zappos before and I enjoyed it very much. It was exciting to see the similarities and differences in how we approach our work and our culture at a8c. We weren’t allowed to take pictures of the Zappos spaces, but here we are waiting for our tour guides:
Typically we worked in a circle. We had a couple of people in charge of a Zoom (video conference) call to loop in our colleagues that couldn’t be there in person. We used a lot of sticky notes and permanent markers 🙂 The days were divided up in order to have blocks of time to discuss 6 goals that we’d identified in advance. At the end of the discussion on each goal, a volunteer gathered notes, identified action items, and shared those on internally with our teams so they could all follow along with our progress. We wanted to make sure that we were processing all the information as soon as possible so as to not stagnate or get behind. Here’s what that looked like:
After each long day we divided up into groups and then spent time in a couple of suites that we reserved at the hotel for gathering social space. We even managed to get a group shot, thankfully we didn’t break the hotel’s couch.
Here’s another attempt at that group shot: