How to organize events for a remote-first team

Building and maintaining a remote culture is a team effort. Here's how we combine both in-person and remote events to connect as a remote-first team!

Jampp Team

January 28, 2022

At Jampp, we’ve always considered our people and the culture we’re building to be our greatest asset. That’s why since the beginning, we’ve paid special attention to the team initiatives that we organize. Each event is a unique opportunity to bring Jamppers together, connect, and align goals. 

Now, as a global remote-first company, we’re even more mindful about the events and initiatives that we organize. So, how do we get together as a team and build remote-first connections? 

In this article, we share:

  • How we define the ideal pace of team events
  • What is the combination of in-person and remote events that works best for Jampp
  • Useful tips to coordinate your own team initiatives

How often should you coordinate team events? 

Depending on your team’s needs and DRIs’ availability, for some activities it may be weekly, bi-weekly, or even monthly.

As a general rule, when planning our events calendar we always check in with the DRIs and managers to make sure the initiatives are strategically timed.

Apart from that, here are some useful questions when planning your events and defining the ideal frequency:

  • What is the purpose of this event? General team building? Introducing a new team member? Working on a specific skill set?
  • Who will coordinate the initiative? Is it the People Team? Team managers? How does this add to their current workload? 
  • Who will be participating in the event? Is it people who normally collaborate together or are they meeting for the first time?

One last thing that helps us decide when and how often to host our events is asking for Jamppers’ input. Whether it’s through managers 1:1s or company-wide (short forms), it’s always useful to see what the team takes away from the events.. 

What events (both virtual and in-person) do we organize? And why did we choose this combination?

We decided early on that we wanted to have a mix of in-person and virtual events, to really leverage the benefits of each format. 

Why does this combo work for us? 

Virtual events help us regularly build connections, regardless of everyone’s location. No matter how far we may be, we get to connect without the hassle of commuting or even flights, experiencing first-hand the power of a globally distributed team. In line with that, virtual events can often be coordinated more quickly :wink: 

That said, ever since Jampp was founded in 2013, we have made a conscious effort for distributed teams to meet in person. We believe that these can be unique opportunities to build our company culture. Since going remote, we’ve come to appreciate our time together even more.  

Here are some examples of the type of initiatives that we have:

  • 🏆 Team Challenges: When we went remote, we created a #daily-jampplife Slack channel to share challenges and games organized by different teams. We’ve done everything from sharing photos of pets, cooking competitions, pictionary rounds, and more! The end goal is to get to know more about other Jamppers, showcase our skills and have fun as a team.
  • ☕  Coffee Breaks: We also have a channel where we get randomly paired with a couple of Jamppers to have an informal conversation. It’s a great way to stay in touch and feel part of the same team no matter where we’re located!
  • 👋 Casual Team Get-togethers. These are more “informal” events organized per team and/or location. Jamppers gather either face-to-face or via video call for an entertaining activity usually followed by a lunch, happy hour, or dinner. These events help us keep in touch and get to know more about our teammates in a laid-back setting.
  • 🎉 Team Events: These are our signature Jampp events and they play a key role in helping us foster our values and culture. They give Jamppers an opportunity to bond and interact with people from other teams and regions (whether it’s virtually or in person). What you can expect: some friendly competition, lot’s of fun and cool swag 😎.

To share a more concrete example, our 2021 EOY event was a mix of both remote and in-person events. 

For the remote part, we had a special EOY Recap Presentation to review what went on during 2021 and align for what’s to come next. Followed by our traditional Jampp Awards 🏆, where we recognize the Jamppers who best embodied our culture. There’s an award for each of our company values and a Rookie of the Year award. Last but not least, our Jamppion of the Year award is given to the Jampper that best embodies all of our values.

For the second part of the event, we partnered with Wildgoose, a team activity company specializing in interactive challenges. Jamppers in every location got together for an outdoor Scavenger Hunt followed by food and drinks 🥂. We used an app with geo-location and global reach, which meant that Jamppers from all locations could participate and the leaderboard was updated in real-time.

Take a look at how much fun we had together:

3 useful tips to coordinate your own initiatives

Now that you know how we do it, here are a few tips to keep in mind when fostering remote-first connections:

1️⃣ Start with why: Having a clear purpose will make it easier to structure, communicate and measure the success of the initiative. While the overall goal is to keep the team connected and aligned in terms of values and goals, some initiatives will be more geared towards specific business outputs, and others towards opening communication channels.

2️⃣ Determine the “whens”: It might take a while to identify the ideal cadence but it’s important to find the rhythm that works for your team. This sets clear expectations that help people make the most of each interaction and generate excitement for specific events.

3️⃣ Always keep the “who” in mind: As we mentioned at the beginning of the post, it’s important to consider your DRIs workload and other tasks. The DRIs will be your allies in making sure the events go as smoothly as possible and they will be a valuable source of feedback afterwards. Make sure to consult them and work closely with them.

Wrapping up

When we ask Jamppers what they like the most about working here, it always comes down to the people and our culture. 

We believe that building and maintaining a remote culture is a team effort. We empower Jamppers to share their opinion and bring ideas to the table so we can continue shaping how we connect as a team, together. 

Love what you’ve read here and want to learn more about Jampp? You’re in luck, we’re hiring!

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