The process of bringing every Cleverbit team-member under one roof started two months ago.
COVID-19 lockdowns hadn’t overly affected us. Software development and IT development are notoriously desk-bound, and swapping out an airy San Gwann office for individual homes didn’t affect output – in fact, two years into COVID-19, our teams were reporting even higher numbers of productivity, and the group grew from a relatively small 35 people to 55 seemingly overnight.
However, when the whole world opened its doors again and travel started to gain traction, the only thing that our management team wanted to do was to throw a proper welcome party for the new members that had only met their coworkers through a screen.
Working remotely can do a lot of good for people. The lack of commute alone frees up a lot of time, and when you factor in how much work can be done from anywhere, offices can seem overwhelmingly old-fashioned.
But one thing working from home doesn’t give you is companionship. Modern workplaces thrive on it: you have to like your coworkers, and you have to like working with your coworkers. When you join a company remotely and you don’t meet your coworkers face to face, there’s always a little bit of distance between coworkers.
Our management team didn’t want distance. They wanted everyone to feel at home, to feel a part of the company, and to feel like they have a place there.
Two months ago, they started applying for Visas for their teams abroad, looking for hotels that could take on thirty people, and planning events. Summer in Malta calls for boat parties and tours around Gozo, taking advantage of the weather; casual events that leave a lot of room for talking.
The focus of bringing everyone over was, after all, talking.
Our ethos is simple: we want a happy team. We want to hire from within. We want to create a company where people look forward to coming to work and where, if people do move on, it doesn’t come from being unhappy with where they are.
From speaking to our team, this event has managed to set those tenets in stone.
“One of the nicest things about getting everyone together,” says Adrian, our COO, “is you get to see them coming out of their shell. Developers are introverts by nature, so watching people enjoy themselves and strike up conversations with people they’ve never met before is fantastic.”
Initially, team members came from abroad to a desk with their name on it. From there, they got to work – one of the biggest lures of this weekend, for Adrian, was to give the team an opportunity to work together in the same place. A lot of them formed teams remotely, but having someone on hand to speak to makes a difference – and this trip to Malta was all about making that difference.
The rest of the time, they had fun. Drinks after work. Takeaway lunches. A Jeep trip around Gozo for those who’d never been before. A boat party with every employee that works at Cleverbit.
Remote work is difficult. People who are prone to solitary careers can feel isolated when they don’t have the structure of an office and the stability of a routine that makes you leave the house. That’s why team-building events are important: they help you find a place that’s your own.
And for a company that’d grown exponentially through the pandemic, getting to meet the people we’d taken on sight unseen gave everyone a morale boost (and another reason to plan the next get together – and soon!)