All About On-sites for Distributed Companies

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo (Ops & Content Manager at Tighten) and Anna Shevlin (Operations Coordinator at Tighten) join us this week to talk about on-sites for distributed companies - why they’re important, how to make a virtual on-site work in the era of COVID, and a lot more.


Dave Hicking: Welcome to Twenty Percent Time a podcast that takes you behind the scenes of Tighten, a web consultancy based out of Chicago, but entirely remote in now as of 2021, spread out all over the place, no longer just North America. We specialize in Laravel a PHP framework, but we're often pairing that with any number of Javascript, frameworks and libraries. I'm your host Dave Hicking. And this week we are not talking about anything technical per se, but something that hopefully is of interest to anybody who's involved at all with technology or working at an agency this week, I'm joined by Marje for the second time. The first two time, Twenty Percent Time guest who's the Ops and Content manager at Tighten. Hello Marje.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: Hey Dave. Thanks for having me back.

Dave Hicking: And for her first appearance, the one and only Anna Shevlin. Did Anna, did I pronounce that last name correctly? I don't know if I ever said-

Anna Shevlin: You sure did.

Dave Hicking: I don't know if I've ever said that out loud.

Anna Shevlin: Congratulations.

Dave Hicking: This podcast allows me to say my last name. My last names of my coworkers out loud. Anna is the Operations Coordinator at Tighten. Anna. Welcome to the show.

Anna Shevlin: Thanks for having me.

Dave Hicking: Awesome. So for people who haven't had a chance to, well, actually, no one's heard Anna on the podcast yet, but for people who haven't interacted with either of you two online or anything like that, do you two want to say a quick little something? Who are you? What do you do?

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: I will go first. I'm Marje Holmstrom-Sabo. I kind of do a little bit of everything at Tighten. Yeah, I think that's just what I'll leave it at.

Dave Hicking: I love it.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: It made people and business things.

Dave Hicking: Excellent.

Anna Shevlin: And I'm Anna Shevlin, I'm the operations coordinator here at Tighten and I help Marje do a little bit of everything here. Just people business, working with clients, whatever need people need.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: Also podcast support.

Anna Shevlin: And podcast support.

Dave Hicking: And onsites, which is what we're talking about today. Tighten has done onsites, which we're going to talk about, what is an onsite just second for a little while I want to have the two of you on today because we have our company onsite coming up next week, starting, which is exciting.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: It is.

Dave Hicking: So let's start first with the idea of an onsite because we talk about it all the time at Tighten. It makes sense to us, but most people have hopefully heard the term offsite. So let's start first with an onsite. What exactly is an onsite?

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: All right. So when you hear offsite, that is in the context of a traditional company where everybody is always together in the same workplace already. So they go offsite, meaning they leave the place that they work all the time and go somewhere else to do planning, retreats, or team building activities, something fun, fancy dinner, who knows something like that. So it's an offsite because you're leaving the place where you usually work. Tighten, it's the reverse everybody's already remote. And nobody works in the same geographic or physical location except for Slack, which is virtually the same co-location. So we call it onsite because we are all going to the same place in an onsite location. And we are all co-located together to do things like team building, strategic planning, thought processes and building dev structures and systems. So we call it onsite because we are, it is literally the one time everybody in the company is in the same location together.

Dave Hicking: So before we even get to the idea of a virtual onsite, which is what's really going to blow, well, it sort of blows your mind. What you think. If you try to think like, wait a minute, how can you be virtually onsite? But before we get there so way back in version one of my time at Tighten, when Tighten was much, much smaller, I helped plan onsites. And that was a fair amount of work. And we are now like, I don't know, three, four times that size. The bigger company gets the more complicated an onsite is to put together. And I'm sure even if folks who are listening have never been to an onsite, they've either been to an offsite or they've heard about it. And sometimes people kind of roll their eyes and ah, it's some company retreat or whatever. And so at, at any point, has there been a question of like, do we still really need this? Like basically this can be for either of you two, why is an onsite virtual or non-viral essential for a distributed team.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: I'm going to answer first and then I'll let Anna join.

Dave Hicking: Okay.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: Actually this year is Anna's very first onsite. So she joined us in the interim since this one and our last one.

Dave Hicking: Oh yeah,

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: I think, yeah.

Anna Shevlin: Yeah.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: Shocking, shocking.

Dave Hicking: It feels like Anna's been here forever.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: She's been here for a while, but the reality is for a team of any size or shape, it is important to take the time to learn how you relate to each other in person virtually or not. You don't get the same experiences in a remote company of team engagement or trusting your friends or knowing how tall your colleagues are. Having. That in person meeting to kind of reset your own stereotyped expectations or biases about who are my colleagues is important. And doing that in the context of this is not a work project. This is a, we are a team. I can't think of a better way to have that reestablished sense of teamwork and community and collegial engagement. I feel like companies that of any size that don't have some kind of team building or corporate identity as a culture, as a whole, struggle to retain employees and struggle to have employees who are content with the work that they do and are engaged with their team and with their work and with their colleagues, work should not be life, but work should also be an enjoyable part of life. And I feel like onsite or team retreats or team building exercises are a really necessary part of that.

Anna Shevlin: Yeah. I would just kind of agree with everything that Marje has already said is just when we have grown as a company, just getting to know each other as a community, in a sense is just important to making sure there is that trust built up between team members, how we work together, how we relate to each other. And this is one of the ways that we can build that trust and build the teams up, just getting to know each other outside of work, I think is really important to do that.

Dave Hicking: So Anna, you have, as we just pointed out, you have not been to an onsite and yet you are participating in the planning of an onsite, which might be a little unusual. What, as a first timer do you have, even from the not, if you can turn off the onsite planning part of your brain for a second, is there anything in particular you're looking forward to for this first opportunity, even if it's virtual?

Anna Shevlin: I am. Yeah, no, I am looking forward to just kind of like we've already said, getting to know the team members just a little more personally, I think I'm in a kind of unique situation, maybe in the company where I am not a programmer, I'm not a dev, so I don't have those daily interactions with everybody. And so I'm kind of excited to have a little bit more of those interactions with people. I talk with you and Marje and Dan and Matt frequently, but getting to know everybody else outside of maybe the ops role is, I'm excited for that. Just seeing what people get excited about. How they relate to the games that maybe we've prepared or what gifts people have given just to kind of show everybody their personality. Yeah. I'm looking forward to that a lot.

Dave Hicking: So we, you just teased like games and gifts. Did we were going to get there, but first let's-

Anna Shevlin: Sorry.

Dave Hicking: No, that's okay. This is great. Okay. So we've talked about onsite. We've mentioned that this year's virtual. What, what is a virtual onsite? How does that work?

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: So this one I'm going to take this one. Okay. A virtual onsite is what you do when there's a pandemic and no one is allowed to fly or travel.

Anna Shevlin: Yes.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: And you're like, great. How do we do this? So when we had onsite last year, it was at, we had planned it and we ended up pulling the plug about six weeks prior to the event, simply because COVID numbers were climbing. It did not feel safe to travel. And about a week after that, everything shut down. So it was the right call to make, we opted to keep the same timing. And we shifted the in person planned events to a virtual version, meaning nobody traveled, but we kept the same dates and we kept the same schedule and we kept the same general intent of onsite, except we just did it via Zoom. And we did it on camera. And what we learned from that is, it's kind of exhausting to have three days of back to back, to back, to back Zoom meetings, even if it's with people that you admire and enjoy spending company with that's too many dates.

Dave Hicking: Yeah.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: And so with this onsite, we were looking at it from the perspective of, we still need to do this. We still want to do this. Usually we try to have a 12 to 14 month separation between onsite this time. It was 18 months, mostly because we were really hoping things would settle down and we could do this in person. Didn't happen for lots of reasons. Mostly again for safety, we opted to do virtual. So this year, what that looks like is, again, we're not having the full team travel, but we also decided we don't want to have our onsite be all screens all the time. And so we have two days where we're just telling people, go have an adventure, get away from your computer, go play outside, have an adventure. Even if that adventure is I'm going to sleep in a hammock, or I'm going to take a nap under a tree, it is to do something, to be outdoors in nature, to refresh your mind and soul away from a computer to take that time to just decompress a little bit, because this last 18 months has been pretty stressful for all of us. And at the same time, we still want that feeling of camaraderie and connectedness and some of the same team building strategy, things that we need in our onsite, like what is our direction and what are the things we want to focus on going forward? And so we have one day, just one day instead of multiple days where we will all be together in synchronous Zoom meetings. And I don't want to sneak too many things, but so the virtual onsite is we will all be doing things together as a team, but in separate locations. And that was sort of the goal of we're all going to have a shared experience. And then we're going to come back and we're going to talk about our adventures and then we're going to do some of the planning things, but we're trying to minimize the effects of Zoom fatigue as much as we can.

Dave Hicking: So Marje, you talked about exactly that Zoom fatigue and how we've adjusted for this year's onsite for last year's onsite, which actually Marje, I think it was even tighter timeline than you mentioned. If I remember correctly, I think we, it was literally like three weeks before. It was very...

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: It was very tight.

Dave Hicking: It was very tight, and we've talked a bit we've I think we've sort of already talked broadly, like the goals of an onsite. How do you feel, just people we realize that Zoom fatigue is a thing. Do you still think that first virtual onsite, do you consider that a success? Do you consider that kind of like a, well, we did all that we could and now we're learning more. When you look back on that, how do you think about last year's virtual onsite?

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: When I think about last year's virtual onsite, I am pretty proud of how well the team as a whole was able to shift into that new format and dynamic. I think we learned a lot from it, but I also know based on that experience, I would not deliberately recreate that same experience. Simply because it is so exhausting to be so online all the time. And so my takeaway from that was really to say, be very mindful of here are the asks that we're going to have for folks build in time to that schedule and do not exceed nine hours of Zoom calls in any one particular day, because that is way too many hours of Zoom calls. So yeah, that's that I would say is the biggest takeaway in terms of how we handled it, I'm still very proud of the team for being able to shift as quickly as we were able to, from an in person format to a fully online and virtual format. It was not an easy task, but I think we managed to capture most of what we needed, even though we all still feel that loss of in person time.

Dave Hicking: So both of you are involved in the planning for the virtual onsite. Can you both talk a bit about exactly what goes into trying to put this together? There are lots of I'm sure there are actually, I'm pretty sure we've even talked about it before at Tighten, lots of articles or blog posts, how to run a company, offsite, retreat, all that kind of a stuff. Virtual onsite is a little differently. How early do you start planning? What do you have to get buy-in from bosses? How do you go about getting feedback? All that stuff can both, can you either one of you talk about a little bit about sort of planning

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: Anna, I'm going to let you go first.

Anna Shevlin: Okay. We started planning, geez, how far in advance did we start planning? I feel like we've been planning, I think since the beginning of the year?

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: Yeah. I was going to say seven or eight months out at this point.

Anna Shevlin: And we knew this one was just going to be different for, pandemic and all those reasons that Marje has already talked about. So for this, it was a lot of trying to figure out what do we need as a team? We know that we want to be present together for at least one day, but as a team, what do we need as a whole? So that was kind of that was kind of the idea that we started with of just figuring out how do we do this. So as Marje said that we are not on screen for nine hours for three days or whatnot. And so, we started planning just with that in mind. I think we started reaching out to the bosses, just what we needed in terms of how many days that we see this going, we reached out to the team of when a good time is that we see this happening and then what are some things that they see as just connecting good ways to connect with each other. Marje, what else do we have?

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: I would say that the earliest stages of planning are really, as Anna said, figuring out what do we need from this? And then I think the biggest logistical challenge for a virtual onsite is finding dates that work. And so the hardest part was actually sending out a doodle to the team and saying, hi, tell us what days you could do this. Or what days will definitely not work. Which is another reason this landed in October, because summer was just terrible between kids being, not in school and everybody scheduling vacations. And then Tighten also offered restorative Fridays over the summer, which meant people could choose the option of working 20% time or taking the time off just to catch up on life or their own wellness needs. And so the initial phases was really just what timing makes sense and what works. And then once we had that in mind making the proposal of, okay, in terms of agency needs, if we schedule it over this time, we can have one week that's fully billable and one week that's a mostly billable week. So trying to schedule it in ways that don't impact our bottom line or our clients too heavily, because that's also one of the trade-offs of onsite is a lot of times, if you are choosing to prioritize team building and team connection and corporate and business culture needs, that is sometimes at the expense of your bottom line. And so that's one of the trade offs agencies do have to be aware of and pay attention to. And so that's one of the things we looked at as well. And then going forward from there is how do we recreate some of those in person connections in a virtual onsite, in a virtual way? How do we have activities that help us feel connected to each other? And so planning that one was actually one of the more fun things for me this year was like, how do we do this? And we came up with the idea of a secret sender, which is along the lines of a secret Santa. And so this was, I think this might be one of the things that I hope we can do going forward, even in person okay, we're doing a gift exchange, here's the parameters. And so we got buy-in from the bosses to say, okay, we want to budget that everybody gets this amount of money and this amount for shipping, and you're going to get a name assigned and you're going to send them a present that represents you and where you're from. And I'm very excited about this. And I really hope it works. I don't know yet, because this is next week and we'll find out how it goes.

Anna Shevlin: We will.

Dave Hicking: Marje, can I just tell you the stress that this has caused?

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: Yes. We've heard that from folks.

Anna Shevlin: We have.

Dave Hicking: You know, it turns out I can't ship like New England clam chowder in a box that doesn't really...

Anna Shevlin: I mean...

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: Yeah.

Anna Shevlin: Get it overnight.

Dave Hicking: I'm not going to send a can, but like piping hot clam chowder in a box, doesn't really work. Can't send New England style pizza. I can't send lobster rolls.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: What you need to do is just write a handwritten coupon to say may be redeemed for New England clam chowder when visiting the Hickings.

Dave Hicking: I will reveal a spoiler, which is that, so because our ours team won't hear this until after onsite. So we can reveal all the secrets on this show. Don't worry.

Anna Shevlin: Wonderful.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: That's great to know.

Dave Hicking: My sender, I will actually be seeing in person as a part of the adventure. And so I'm actually going shopping for mine this weekend because I'm a last minute person apparently. And then I will deliver it via, it will be hand delivered.

Anna Shevlin: It's just-

Dave Hicking: But no-

Anna Shevlin: ...It's a special touch right there.

Dave Hicking: Well, it's also the chaos of COVID era shipping and how longs it going to take and everything else. But...

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: Yes.

Dave Hicking: Okay. So we've got secret sender. We talked earlier maybe about games. So I guess like overall coming into this one thing I wanted to ask you two, and I think we're kind of getting there, but I'll just say explicitly, which is for me, one of the great things I love about being in person at an onsite is it's some of the stuff we talked about. Like it's getting to know your coworkers better, but it's actually seeing them as a three dimensional person. Right. It's, you get off the plane and you're like, oh, I didn't know you were 6'2. Or, oh wow you have an energy. I didn't even realize because Zoom is Zoom and it's too dimensional. Virtual can't replicate it, but it can do other things and it can get at that goal. So some of the ways we're trying to make that happen sounds like we've got secret sender, which is a cool way for people to share or gift with folks. I heard games. What else? What do we have cooking, what's going on?

Anna Shevlin: So I can start with this one. So like we've mentioned, we've got secret sender. So the idea behind that is to send a gift to someone that represents your area or region, or even just a place that you have lived that means a lot to you. So it's a way for people to get to know you and how you relate to where you live or where you have lived. We are doing a few scavenger hunts or we'll have a scavenger hunt list so that people can participate that over the weekend. And the few days that we are taking off, just as a fun way for people to interact with each other, just on Slack. We are one of the things that we're doing is giving Thursday and Friday off so people can get away from their computers, but we also still want people to interact with each other. So that's why we're doing the scavenger hunt. We've also created a Spotify playlist called Emergency Caveberas, so people can also listen to that together.

Dave Hicking: It's a deep Tighten cut right there.

Anna Shevlin: It's very deep Tighten cut. It's very great. I'm loving it. And then on that Monday, we're going to gather back together and we are sharing the gifts that everybody has received. We're going to just share a few facts about ourselves just as a way, because again, we've had quite a few people onboard since the last onsite. And so we realize we need a way for people to get to know each other. And so we're doing a few, here's some three facts about me on Monday morning, and then we are doing games. We're like the last thing that we're doing is breaking out in game rooms, just as a way for people to relax and just they're all going to be online, but it'll just be another way for people to connect. So those are some of the things, the fun things that we have had planned on Monday when we all gather together.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: Yeah. And to add to Anna's point in looking at the numbers, the number of people who have been to an onsite and the number of new people who have not been to an onsite is equal. That is the amount of growth that we've had over the past year, essentially equal numbers of old timers and newcomers. And so that to me really speaks to the need, to share a little bit about ourselves. And I'm very much looking forward to, I'm thinking of it as the great unboxing as people open their gifts from each other and we can kind of see their reactions and what was sent and how it's received. I think that will be very fun just to share, literally share with each other.

Dave Hicking: It's funny you bring up the old, you put it old timers versus newcomers. I'm like, am I an old timer?

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: Yes.

Dave Hicking: Like an old squared?

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: You are Dave, you are older than I am at Tighten.

Anna Shevlin: That's true.

Dave Hicking: It's true. Marje, I'm glad you mentioned that. Because way back in the early days of COVID I think we recorded this episode, maybe back in April 2020, your first appearance on the podcast, you talked about what it's like to create a welcoming remote work culture right and-

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: Yes.

Dave Hicking: But it's like for new versus existing employees, we're talking about things that sound like fun and sound, it's like games and getting to know each other, but I'm assuming this is not just, we're doing this for the heck of it. You really see this as like, this is an important part in creating that kind of culture. Is that right?

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: It absolutely is. The building a team is not just a thing that happens accidentally. Having a true team means everyone feels welcome and everyone feels safe to contribute. And I feel like onsite is one of those events that before you've been to one or participated in one, it can be easy to still feel a little bit like an outsider to feel a little bit like, I don't know all of the jokes. I don't understand why this is funny. And onsite to me has always been one of those places where people can understand and start to participate in some of those inside jokes and feel comfortable as their whole self, because they are welcomed as their whole self. And I feel personally, I feel a very strong lack of in-person at this point. And I'm very much hoping that by next year we'll be able to come together in person as a team in some way, shape or form. We're doing our best. We have a very empathetic and highly engaged team, but it's very difficult to recreate that in person three dimensional experience of spatial relationship in terms of height and how someone laughs when there're too tired-

Dave Hicking: We're too focused on hight here-

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: ... To be awake anymore

Dave Hicking: on this podcast.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: Well, I mean not on purpose, but I was telling Anna earlier this morning, I just have this assumption that everybody's like six feet tall.

Anna Shevlin: Yeah.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: Which I know is not accurate, but in my brain that's like everybody is this tall. And so yeah, it doesn't necessarily change my perception of who that person is as a person. It's just is like, okay. My brain does not do what I think it should be doing. It's a funny recognition that what you see on video is not the same as reality. And I think that's important to recognize too.

Dave Hicking: Thank you, Marje and I apologize for talking over you. I was just like, wow, we're talking about height once again.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: Yeah.

Anna Shevlin: Well, when you can't see anybody's legs on the video screen, it's just a very weird perception of people.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: And it's an interesting calibration too. I just assume people are six feet tall and some people assume people are 5'7.

Anna Shevlin: What's the normal height.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: It's just amusing to me. Brains are weird.

Dave Hicking: So let's say next year is a wonderful year. There's no pandemic. There's nothing going on. We're going to... I'm crossing my fingers, knocking on wood here.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: Same.

Dave Hicking: Possibly burning some sage.

Anna Shevlin: Absolutely. Yes.

Dave Hicking: Are there, let's say we do an in person onsite again. Are there any lessons or ideas that you want to take from these virtual onsite and bring back to in person onsites whenever they may happen again?

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: I will say definitely game time, having dedicated game time of just you pick your room and you pick your thing and go have some fun. And I think the other thing is the, choose your own adventures, which is a modification of past onsites where we would have folks who would essentially sponsor a okay, well, we're going to do a bootcamp workout or we're going to make bread, or we're going to deep dive into sound. So it's like a more intense or in person Tighten talk, but a longer format, one that you can do in person. And I think that adventure theme will continue and we'll pick that up again when we can be in person. And I know Anna doesn't have the context of past onsite, but I'm just going to ask her, Anna, what things would you want to see at an in person onsite?

Anna Shevlin: I kind of agree with you on that. Like I think one of the struggles of planning a virtual onsite is how do we make sure that these connections happens as organically as they can while we are in a virtual space. And that's one thing that I think having an in person onsite hopefully next year would be wonderful. You just have those times where, like you said, choose your own adventure. People can go off and I don't know, bake bread, do yoga. It's just those natural, organic things that happen when people are in the same space and realize that they have these connection points. And just building up friendships and community in that way and having people feel like they have even more of a connection to the people that they are working with. And even just, I don't know, as silly as this might sound but shared meal times, I think shared meal times has such a way to bring people together, whether it's catered or we are all cooking it together. I think it's, food is a universal for people and it's another connecting point. Sharing, meals, sharing stories, I think is a great way for people to get to know each other. And I hope that we get to do that soon.

Dave Hicking: So I'm curious, I've been wondering about this and it's kind of a serious question, but I think if you're listening to this, it might be something on your mind as well, which is do either of you worry at all about somebody who doesn't want to be quite so I don't know vulnerable is the word or open. Maybe they're a little arms crossed, you can't, I'm sort of doing you all can't see this, this is audio, but on the video right now, you got your arms crossed. Maybe they're not engaging. Do either of you worry about that with an onsite virtual or, or person?

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: 100%.

Anna Shevlin: Yes, absolutely.

Dave Hicking: Yeah.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: 100%. It is very easy to hide behind a Zoom. And having that screen in between you puts one more literal barrier to being open. One of the concerns I have is Tighten values, radical candor, and the idea of vulnerable trust and communication that is done in good faith and taken with positive intent. And we can say those things and we can model those things. But if you have never worked in an environment where those are valued communication skills, it's terrifying.

Anna Shevlin: Yes. absolutely.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: Terrifying. I'm not even, this is not understatement or exaggeration to practice those skills. If you are coming into an environment where this is normal, but you've never done it, it's really scary. And doing that to a computer screen versus a person is a completely different experience. And so that's one of the things I'm very cognizant of And also the awareness of people vary on their introversion versus extroversion.

Anna Shevlin: Absolutely.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: And so some people it's going to take a lot more for them to participate willingly because they're introverted. And all of a sudden, instead of it being a pairing session with two people, or maybe three people, it is suddenly, I am in a Zoom room with my entire group of colleagues. And I've only worked with two or three of them once or twice because that's how new I am. And so those are things that I really think about a lot in terms of creating a welcoming culture. How do we reduce those barriers. And why I very much hope that by next year we can be in person. I think we have a good team that is welcoming, that is funny and is encouraging. But until you have worked with people in person or have met them in person that barrier of a camera and a microphone is hard to overcome. Trusting vulnerability is a scary place. And I don't know how to help people be less scared other than doing my best to model this is what it looks like. And these are steps you can take and reaching out. If I notice someone is struggling or feeling a little shy perhaps, or extra quiet, because I don't want anyone to ever feel like they have to be silent, but also I know it can be difficult to practice speaking up.

Anna Shevlin: Yes. I would agree with all of that. I think especially I'm very much an introvert. And so making sure that I am stepping out of my comfort zone is very daunting sometimes. And I know that we have a very good balance of introvert to extrovert in Tighten. And so making sure or rather just thinking how to make people comfortable in this space and as we are in this virtual space, I think that's part of the reason why we are having so many, I guess, breakout game rooms at the end. We want someone who maybe is a bit more shy to feel comfortable in at least one of these spaces. They can participate. They can contribute in a way that they are as comfortable as they can be in this area. Whether or not they know people very well, but it's just like Marje said, I think it's very much a, something that we're very cognizant of as we have planned this year's onsite. And just trying to give people that space to be themselves, not pushing them beyond what they are comfortable with, but giving them that open space to just be like, we are here to listen to you if you want to participate.

Dave Hicking: Okay. Let's wrap up with one last question, which both either of you, both of you, whatever can tackle this. Cause I think this will be interesting. So I'm assuming everybody who's listening to this is now super psyched. They're like, I need a virtual onsite. Maybe they work at a distributed company, like Tighten maybe it's a hybrid company. Let's say they want to, they need that, like that pitch. What would you say is the pitch for why people should try virtual onsite? Something they could take to their boss or whoever be like, just take this, just repeat what Marje or what Anna said, these words of wisdom. What would you tell people to say as why a virtual onsite is something that a company should try.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: If you can laugh together and play together, you can get through anything. That's honestly what I believe.

Dave Hicking: That's good.

Anna Shevlin: I think also, oh, go ahead.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: Oh, I was going to say, I think that is, to me that's the whole point learning that you can laugh, play and work. That's that's the basis of a good life. And if that's what you want for your team and your company, this should be a thing that you support. All right, Anna, your turn.

Anna Shevlin: Okay. I was going to say just when everybody feels connected, when everybody feels like they are part of the team, I think it creates a healthier environment. And in some ways, a place that people want to stay at and work with longer, just being in a place where you can trust those people around you and you feel connected. I think it just really, I guess, speaks to the openness and the trust that can be built up between people.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: Yeah. If you want a buzzword-

Dave Hicking: Well, hold on-

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: Here we go.

Dave Hicking: My buzzword alarm might go off.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: It might but, if it depends. Depending on how you have to manage up.

Dave Hicking: Sure.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: Virtual or in person onsite help a team stay fully engaged and therefore aid an employee retention decreasing your long term employment costs. There that's...

Anna Shevlin: There it is.

Dave Hicking: Could you-

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: How buzz words was that?

Dave Hicking: Could you work synergy into that?

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: I can't.

Dave Hicking: Or vertical integration?

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: No. David hurts my brain and my heart too much. I'm sorry.

Dave Hicking: Oh, all right. I said that was the last question. I fibbed, I have one sneaky last question, which is basically Marje and Anna, was there anything that we didn't talk about regarding, onsites that either of you two, think we should mention before we leave today?

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: Snacks have good snacks.

Dave Hicking: Snacks.

Anna Shevlin: Snacks have good snacks. Have breaks because on Monday we are going to be on Zoom.

Dave Hicking: That's right.

Anna Shevlin: So we are going to need a lot of breaks.

Dave Hicking: Snacks, snacks and breaks.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: Snacks and breaks.

Anna Shevlin: Snacks and breaks.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: Great. Yeah.

Dave Hicking: Yeah. Excellent. All right. Well, thank you both for joining Twenty Percent Time today. This has been great. I'm super excited for onsite next week, which is sort of starts next week. And then kind of goes in next weekend. I am apparently driving from Connecticut to Philadelphia. I'm picking up Jacob along the way who's flying in from Canada and then-

Anna Shevlin: Amazing.

Dave Hicking: ... We're meeting up in Philly and then six of us are going to go see Dune and then we're going to go to Six Flags. It's like a whole adventure.

Anna Shevlin: That is amazing.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: I am super excited about your adventure day.

Anna Shevlin: Awesome.

Dave Hicking: It's going to-

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: That is going to be fantastic.

Dave Hicking: It's going to be fantastic.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: My planned adventure is going to Duluth and I get to go do some hiking with Santoria.

Anna Shevlin: Sounds lovely.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: Yeah.

Dave Hicking: That also sounds wonderful.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: Yeah. Anna, what did you plan for your adventure?

Anna Shevlin: I am giving myself a spa day.

Dave Hicking: Ooh.

Anna Shevlin: Cause I can.

Dave Hicking: Yes.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: Nice.

Anna Shevlin: And celebrating a friend's birthday with shenanigans yet to be fully planned.

Dave Hicking: Excellent.

Anna Shevlin: See, these are some good adventures. Go us.

Dave Hicking: And on that note, I think that's it. Thank you both so much for joining us. Appreciate it. This has been a lot of fun and can't wait to see what onsite brings.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: All right. Thanks for having us Dave.

Anna Shevlin: Thank you so much.

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