Empowering our Team: Company Offsites at Fonoa

People Operations Manager
Sophie Connor

At Fonoa, we work in fully distributed teams which means that we rarely meet in person. While we clearly see the advantages of being a remote company, we also know what value in-person meetings can bring to our team. Real-world meetings help us communicate and collaborate better and be more connected across the company. 

From time to time, we schedule team meetups and company offsites to brainstorm together, have deep conversations and grow relationships more organically. Team meetups are smaller in-person summits that give teams an opportunity to solve a specific problem, get things done, and socialize with teammates. While team meetups can happen whenever the team needs to gather, company offsites are organized annually. Every Fonoa employee is invited to the offsite to spend time and focus together. Working in the physical space after so many virtual calls is a refreshing change for all of us. 

We organized our first-ever company offsite in sunny Barcelona

During our stay, we managed to hit a few important goals, and the team also had a ton of fun. We had team dinners, a night out, visited a winery, and had a Segway tour on the streets of Barcelona. Since Fonoa’s goal is to make taxes simple we think it is important that our employees understand taxes better. To demystify the tax universe, we had presentations deepening our subject matter expertise and several sessions about our mission and vision. We also had a great discussion about Fonoa’s principles, which define who we are and how we get things done. 

Meeting face to face with colleagues for the first time was quite an experience for all of us.  

We went from connecting every day on Zoom to suddenly all being in the same room (and hotel) it was quite an intense way to meet everyone. But once we all got the "Hi, How are you, How was the journey?!" out of the way and settled in, it all felt very natural.

Hosting an offsite for our team has both short and long-term benefits. 

As a remote-first team, the offsites are super important for us to connect and do some good old-fashioned team building. One of the short-term benefits came instantly after the offsite ended. We found that the team returned to work the following week feeling super energized, aligned in our vision, and eager to achieve our big collective goals. I especially noticed that people felt more bonded and I think that has had a huge benefit on our culture and collaboration.

The people team gathered feedback both during and after the event, which helped us to understand that the team’s feelings and feedback are a priority for our products, hiring, and growth. 

Offsites help to open up a conversation about what we're focused on, what we want to achieve, and how we achieve it. Considering our huge growth plans, the offsite will become an integral way of bringing us together regularly, to ensure we stay focussed and aligned on our goals as a growing team. 

Since we all work remotely, it's important for us as a company to make sure that our team spends time to meet, and get to know each other. It's also a great excuse to get some group photos (and have a couple of cocktails)!

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