Hanging out is priceless

Jan 16, 2023

In early November 2022, I asked one of my awesome teams to take 3 days out of their week, so we could travel and spend time together. And so we did! We ended up in northern Italy where we had a lovely time together and we barely had to opened our laptops. That was the Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) team. Why did I take the SRE team away from the terminal?

We are a distributed team. Most of us work out of the Copenhagen office, we have a colleague in Finland and another in Romania. We keep in touch. We talk a lot, have team ceremonies, we pair and mob quite a bit. But there’s something special about just being next to somebody, looking them in the eye, shaking their hand or giving them a hug.

We decided to meet in person so we could bond. Thankfully, my manager not only approved, but encouraged the endeavour, and off we went! 🛫

The only thing on the agenda was to talk about and define our team values.

Discussing values is necessary for a healthy workplace

It’s important to articulate your values. After two days, we established a set of team values and principles that everyone committed to.

When there is disagreement about how something should be done or who should do it, we refer back to our values and principles, rendering decision making more efficient. Living and acting in accordance with our values also reinforces the team and company culture.

The employer should facilitate this, periodically

For distributed teams, it is important they have the resources and support from their employer to effectively communicate and collaborate with one another. Having regular in-person meetings and team-building activities not only helps to foster a sense of cohesion and connection among team members, but also allows for more efficient problem-solving and idea generation. Investing in communication and collaboration for a distributed team ultimately leads to improved productivity, motivation and job satisfaction.

While value attribution can be difficult, the ROI is massive.

Not all can afford to travel and be away from family or other obligations that require their presence at home, but if they can make it work, then there are many benefits for both parties.

Our time in northern Italy

People opened up and shared personal stories. We got to learn about each other. What motivates us, what doesn’t, what ticks us off and what our passions are.

It was a great experience. The weather was mostly sunny, we had delicious coffee, plenty of pizza, and enjoyed some great wine.

In conclusion, it is clear that spending time together as a team is crucial for building trust, discussing shared values, and enhancing team performance. We need to talk more and build stronger relationships with our coworkers. This can be done in many ways, but one of the most effective methods is simply spending time with each other.