This time Slash held its traditional annual retreats in the format that the world has lived in for the last two years – online. The pandemic shows no signs of retreating, excuse the pun! Our team is spread across the globe: we have team members in Cambodia, Indonesia, France, Singapore, Armenia – and more recently Ukraine, India, Nepal, Philippines.

Being so far from one another as we are, Slash has established the principle of “remote first” for operating the team. The retreats have been a perfect way to meet in person and socialize, and we did not want to miss the experience. In January and November 2021, Slash held two virtual retreats. Let’s look at how our November get-together came to be!

Getting ready

The first thing to establish, when planning an event, are the goals. For that matter, one goal of our virtual retreat was to gather everyone and have fun together outside of work. We also wanted to have everyone in one place to tell what is happening in the company, keep everyone up-to-date.

After setting the goals for the retreat, we did some planning to figure out how to provide that kind of information in line with the fun theme of the retreat. We put together a 3-day event agenda, filling up a couple of time slots for our team activities – something appropriate, but fun, and possible to do virtually.

The first day was focused on the new face of Slash: sharing new goals, new branding of the company. Day two was all about personal development and team bonding. And finally, the last day was dedicated to the future of Slash.

Bonding virtually – let’s go!

Day 1: yell-yell and trivia

We prepared several team activities, such as the roller-coaster check-in, the formation of groups to create a yell-yell together. It was a good way for the team members to connect, knowing that most of them are working on different projects.

For personal development and team bonding, we did activities like team trivia. We used Kahoot for that – a gaming platform that is suitable to do trivia games virtually. This is a fun way to get to know each other better. Next, it was time for team performance activity: the groups, which formed on the first day, had to come up with a storyline and then perform it in front of their colleagues. Essentially, they sat down together, created a script, and acted it out for the rest of the team. The feedback is very good on this activity! The team loved it, because not only they got to know each other better, but also it helped them get a different perspective of the others.

Day 2: many cities, one calendar

Another activity we prepared for the Slash retreat were virtual field trips. We asked all team members to share a short video about what their day typically looks like, and then we combined it into one file and watched the movie together. 

The reasoning behind that was we are a remote team. Everyone has a different day-to-day life, so it was an interesting way for us to feel connected. Even though we work in different cities and countries, we do the same things: everyone is working on their laptops, opening the same calendars… These small pieces of information really help team members to understand why we are doing this in the first place: even though they are working remotely, they are not by themselves, we are doing all this work together.

We wrapped up the second day with keynotes from the management. The team learned about our plans to go fully remote, about the guidelines, and the behavior we expect from the team. The keynotes were followed by a Q&A for the team.

Day 3: campfire talks and the future of Slash

On the third day, the agenda was different, because we had a different theme –“Welcome to the future.” We tried to create a futuristic vision of what Slash would be like in a year. For the final day, we had Human Bingo, and everyone went around the room and asked others questions like “Have you been to Europe?” and “Do you speak 3 languages?” This is one more fun way to learn more about each other.

After the introduction of the concept of Slash 4.0, we organized a common lunch break, where everyone talked about their food. The team members come from different cultures, so naturally, food as one of the main ingredients of a culture is an entertaining topic .A related activity we did was an exploration of our values and a team reflection. During the latter, we asked everyone to go around, share a recognition and positive feedback about each teammate, and put the words on their personal cards. A guaranteed confidence and empathy boost!

We had some quiet moments too – a virtual team campfire, a place for everyone to reflect on the event and share their thoughts.

How we made it happen

All our activities passed on a single platform – Spatial Chat. We created a room virtually, where everyone could create an avatar and move it around. Usually, the retreat happens face-to-face, but we needed to switch to virtual and do it in a nice way for the team. We also used Zoom at lunch and Slide-o as a Q&A.

Lessons learned

A lot has been said about the value and importance of feeling connected, and these circumstances, unprecedented in the modern world, have only cemented that simple truth. Especially for teams like ours, communication is one of key elements of working together well, succeeding, and having the confidence that good cohesion in the team gives.

Although the pandemic has forced us to take our retreats to the virtual domain, we at Slash are happy to have held them regardless. For us, it is important to keep the team members connected. This concerns not only the work-related issues, of course. It was great to see everyone sharing their daily routine and food, socializing, having fun, noticing good qualities in one other.

In these trying times particularly, the Slash team sticks together!

Maria Agustin
Maria Agustin
People Operations
Maria Agustin is the Head of People Operations at Slash. She’s also the Co-founder of Pratisara Bumi Foundation, which runs leadership and entrepreneurship education programs in Indonesia. Originally from Jakarta, Indonesia, she’s worked in social innovation, startups and economic empowerment. In 2016, she started managing one of the top coworking spaces in Asia, and that’s when she began to focus on location-independent entrepreneur community building from around the world, the future of work culture, and people. She’s a community leader for one of the world’s well-known venture capitals, Techstars, in Asia Pacific and she has organised Startup Weekend Bali six times; as well, she is a design sprint facilitator at 1000 Startup Digital Indonesia.
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