Ep. 88

The Power of Team Offsites with Team Interact

This episode features Interact’s Customer Success Manager, Damaris Pacheco, Growth Manager, Jackie Aguglia, and Social Content Manager, Jesy Nelson. 

In this episode we will cover:

  • What do you think is the objective of team offsites?
  • Why are team offsites so important for teams that work remotely?
  • How do company offsites impact customers?
  • What are some key takeaways for creating a positive offsite experience?

Hi everyone. Welcome back to Interact’s Grow podcast. I’m Jesy. I am the social content manager here at Interact, and I’m here with Jackie and Damaris. Thank you guys for joining us today, and I actually wanted to let our listeners know that this is kind of a special episode in its own way because we’re missing our original host.

Josh and Jessmyn. Jessmyn is out on her sabbatical and Josh is just not here today. So I actually think this episode is kind of one of its kind because none of us have ever been hosts, but here we are and today. We’re actually going to be talking about offsites because we just got back from our offsite in spa Palm Springs last week.

We were able to get the whole team together, and we were there from Monday to Thursday, and I think everyone had a blast. How are you guys feeling post offsite? I feel much better today. I think I definitely needed the weekend to sort of give me that energy to come back to work on Monday. Yeah, I was gonna say definitely re-energized, but still tired cuz I’m in a different time zone.

Oh yeah. Jackie is our traveling working nomad, so she’s coming from all over the place all the time. We’re just tired because we’re normal and tired, but Jackie’s usually working opposite time zones. It’s early today. It’s pretty true. It’s very true and it, but what do you guys think? We’ve done a few offsites now.

What do you guys think the overall objective is for these offsites when they bring us together like this? Feel free to hop in either of you whenever. I would say when I first started with the company, I thought that it was to do work with the team in person, and Jess had said something to me at our first offsite of To the extent of, you know, actually we shouldn’t really do work while we’re together in person because we never do that anyway.

So why would we practice doing that? Right? And so the offsites that I’ve been on with interact really evolved into team building, but not the, for lack of better words, the corny little ice. Breaker event things. It’s literally just letting the team get together and have natural conversations about whatever it is that we might wanna talk about.

And sometimes work comes into that because, you know, w we work on different projects or there’s overlap, or you know, we just wanna catch up with each other on what we’re doing and how our work affects other people. But for the most part, it’s really just genuine conversation about, you know, how are you today, Jesy, and what’s going on in your world?

And tell me more about your personal life because. Being a remote team, especially with the four day work week, we don’t get to do that on Slack and in our team meetings. So it’s a really, really great time to catch up personally on where everybody’s at. And I think that brings us all closer together in a different way, but also for the better.

I love that. Love that. Yeah, I, I definitely agree with you, Jackie. When I think back of like my traditional setting in previous jobs to like how it is now, I think that like if you have like a normal like office job, you know, nine to five, you do have a little bit of time to actually socialize with your coworkers face-to-face and have that.

Sort of like informal bonding. And I think that in our setting the main objective for offsites is bonding. Like you said, we are mainly working all day. We don’t really interact other than just probably work-related questions or if I have like a one-off question. So when we go to these offsites, you know, we really get to just have conversation, get to know that coworker.

At a deeper level, understand their personalities, understand who they are, how they like to, you know, how we work together. And so I think it’s just, it’s such a great time to just like get to know everybody and, and just like understand everybody differently. And it really sort of just, it’s like you feel refreshed to know that the team is like open and everybody just has great conversation.

It’s a really, it’s a really great feeling. Yeah. I just wanna add to that cuz we had in our, one of our last episodes about being more productive, taking breaks and I think that was kind of or is the objective of our offsites It it is to take a break. Yeah. We we’re getting to meet each other and know each other on different levels, but we really do get to take that break from work.

And I remember in past jobs that I’ve had where we’ve had like offsite. Meetings or team building events and things like this, right? There’s usually some part, like portion of that is work or a presentation to the team of what you’ve been working on. And that creates like some sense of fear and anxiety and like more work, right?

Than you would normally have, than you would otherwise have to do for your job. And so I didn’t even really think about this until right now we’re talking about it, but that. That’s not a break. Working harder to go on an offsite. Right. So I really appreciate that. We don’t have that element in our offsites.

There isn’t anything really to prepare for other than, you know, everyone, you know, get caught up and work close things up for the week while we take time off to spend with each other. Yeah, I completely agree with that. That I, this is my first time, or actually my first offsite was, With interact, I think last year, but at my previous company, we didn’t do offsites.

You know, occasionally around the holidays we’d go to lunch, like with our department, and that was about it. But there also didn’t seem to feel like there was a need for it because, you know, we’re in an office together nine to five, you know, we have time to chit chat about other things, about personal life and everything.

But as our MO team, we hop on a call and we’re like, all right, we’re all kind of. Tight on time. Let’s be productive, let’s be efficient, let’s get it done, because everyone’s got something to do. But it is such a relief, not feeling an anxiety or like a buildup of pressure prior to these offsites. Like, I don’t know about you guys, but I’m always excited.

I’m like, oh, finally, like I get to ask about how this person’s doing. And like they can, they can tell me about like the new life things that are going on that we don’t get to hear about. And it just, I, the more we get to know each other, it makes it so much easier to work remotely through the week and you know, through the months I feel like everyone can just connect so much better.

So I’m glad we’re, oh my God, 100%. I think I was like looking forward to our offsite since they announced it, which was like back in late January. I was like, when is April? I wanted to be here already. I was so excited. Yeah. I think maybe another element too, of just getting to know people more on this personal level.

Jesy, the first offsite that we went to together, the first time I had met you in person, you told me you slack exactly like you talk. Yes. Right. So like the way that I’m like typing into Slack does come across the same way that I would say something to you in person, but if you didn’t know me, right? Or like, as you get to know me, some of the things that I say are very short to the point.

And Mike without punctuation or different emojis, right? And this isn’t calling Jesy out. This is anybody that I’m talking to via text, texting, communications. It can come off differently so you can like read my vibe much more. You understand what I’m saying? More so it just brings us close together and like, I guess like It gets us to understand each other on different levels too, and we can like make, you know, I don’t know what I’m trying to say, but you, you get to sense that.

Yeah. Like who they are as a real person and not just behind a computer screen. It’s so true. I mean, some people use emojis in Slack, some people use LOLs, hahas gifs and other people. Literally just the word or like one word responses. And I’m always like, when you first join a team, you’re like, oh, I’m trying to get a vibe for this person.

But yeah. You really have no clue. Like they just sent me a K like in text, you’re usually like terrified. You know? That’s all you got. Not even the O in front of it, just a K. But then you meet everyone in person and you’re like, ah, okay. This is what they’re like, you know? Mm-hmm. That’s how they interact through the interwebs.

So, so true. So true. Well, I, we kind of covered question number two that I had, which was, Why we think that they’re important for remote teams. Does anyone have anything else to add on that besides the fact that it’s literally the best way ever to bond and meet each other? Yeah. I mean, I think, I guess the only other thing I can add when it comes to like remote work because I know that some of our listeners out there do not work remotely, so some people actually have to go into the offsite, you know, off onsite and have people to talk to.

And so when you work remotely you really are at home or wherever your setup is. Just constantly working. And so you really sort of miss out on like that traditional social aspect of, you know, going on site and working. And so when we go to offsites, because we don’t have that on a daily basis, we are also excited to just like chat and talk and just like catch up and see how everybody’s doing and sort of have that like social aspect, which is.

Really what I look forward to as well when I go to offsites, like, how’s Jesy doing? How are you guys? How’s everything with your life? How’s Jackie? How’s Annie? How’s Josh? How’s everybody? You know, there’s just so many updates. Even in our most recent updates, we had like so many celebrations and milestones and it was just like six months that we hadn’t seen each other.

It really wasn’t that long, you know? But it was, all of these things happened in that six month spam and. It’s just, it’s important in that’s in that aspect, especially for a remote team to just sort of have that connection at least every six to 12 months, where, however, you know, everybody does it differently, but it’s just, it’s really keeps the team together.

I think it’s. That’s what I would say. Yeah. I guess I’d just say work related wise, like how work comes up at the offsite is a lot more casual too. Like being remote. Right. And all in different time zones. We have to, if we wanna have a chat about something, cuz sometimes it’s definitely easier to just talk through it.

You have to find a, a. You know, an overlapping time where everybody’s free, you have to get everybody on the call. It feels like more work, but at the offsite, like Josh and I were in a car riding to dinner one night, right? And we just had like a maybe 10, 15 minute conversation about the videos and the content that the videos should support.

And it was just something that happened so easily we didn’t have to plan for it. But it was something that also like needed to be said, like we needed to have that conversation so that we knew what videos we were making, right? Our strategies are all aligned. So even though work does come up, At the offsite, it’s so much easier to talk about it.

And sometimes you learn things about your job that you don’t even mean to. Right. Like we were in the Lazy River with Matt. Mm-hmm. And we were talking about the, I don’t know, like an email, automated email being on or being off. And you get to hear things from like the developer side that you would never have conversations about in.

In meetings that we have, right? But because Matt said this thing that, oh, actually this relates to what I’m doing. So the work feels easier and more fun too. Because it can just naturally happen while you’re there. Yeah, I agree with that. And just thinking back about that, like we’re just floating down the Reis liver with our CTO and co-founder, and we know he is swamped and busy all the time, and I would never.

Probably never slack him to ask him the questions and talk about the things that we talked about there. But because we were all relaxing, it was such a good opportunity to so, mm-hmm. It literally, I think it offsites gives so much space for so many organic conversations to happen that would not otherwise happen, and totally.

The work we, and I think another thing that we should touch on is kind of like the challenges that come with offsites. I mean, we know there’s a lot of positives and. We were talking about this a little bit before the show though, it’s kind of hard to think about what challenges come with it cuz we all felt like there’s only pros.

But I think there are some challenges and also challenges that relate to the business and like how going on offsite impacts our customers. And I just wanted to hear what you guys’ thoughts are on that. How do you guys feel like, or what do you feel are challenges that happen at offsite as teams? Yeah, I guess I can start with this one.

Just because I think my role is a little bit different than a lot of, a lot of the people I interact. At least for me, because I do mainly do customer support every day, you have to just sort of like structure yourself. So just to give an example, like on our offsites, I would try to wake up a little bit earlier, Hey, let me answer any customer requests that I have now before the day starts.

It’ll be a, a slower response time, but I always do try to keep in mind the customer. And try to answer within a 24 hour period. But that also organically happens, right? Like if we’re on our offsite and we have some downtime, maybe like, I’ll try to, to look and try to answer the questions. So it’s really just about preparing, like what’s comfortable for everybody.

We are customer-centric, so we do try to definitely not just. Abandon any of you guys listening, we definitely try to keep you like top of mind. And I think that goes into like Jesy and Jackie’s role too, preparation maybe like a week or two before, like what, what we’re gonna send out to our customers, how we’re gonna deliver the message, what our flow’s gonna be.

And it’s really just, you know, putting that I, I, what I really love, just to add on to that is that like, Josh, Matt, Annie, you know, the, the, our, our bosses. What we would consider our bosses really do. Understand that the team is important and that, you know, in order for the team to really maximize and do great and be great at their job, we need that sort of bonding time.

And even though the challenge may be, you know, for some customers that’s not okay and it’s not ideal, I. It also does help, I think, in the long run for, you know, motivation I don’t know, ownership of projects, whatever you wanna call it. And so just, you know, just to sort of look at the bigger picture that way.

Now I just feel like I’m rambling on, so somebody stopped me. I love that. I love that. Yeah. Go ahead Jesy. I was just saying I love that how you kinda emphasize that we are customer centric. Like even off the offsite we were saying, you know, If we saw a lot of emails building up a lot of AI requests for new quizzes, we were talking about it, how are we gonna, you know, hit the ground running on Monday?

Are there any emergencies that we need to deal with? But because they want us to have this break in this time to bond, they do kind of allow us to deal with what needs to be dealt with and kind of give the other stuff a rest as long as nothing’s burning down. Yeah. And I would just say, yeah, like the challenge would be the preparation before you leave, right?

And it looks different for everybody. And sometimes, I mean, and maybe that’s the benefit of not having such structured offsites is if something comes up or if we wanna put a little bit of work in there, or you see this email come through, that you really just wanna manage it right away. You have the time to do so, it’s fine.

But also, remember, the point of the offsite is to be away from work, to take this break. And so I think communication with the customers is key. So setting an out of office, right? Actually for our community, I didn’t say anything that I was gonna be out and somebody was tagging me, hello, where are you?

Where are you? Because I was out for a week, actually a week and a couple days, cuz I took a couple days off before he left. And so I think that. Any, anybody, even if you feel like you’re not gonna have the time, you’re able to schedule your day or your work right in a way where you can have some days off together.

And you can let your customers know you’re not going to be available at that time. If you have somebody that can fill in for you, awesome. But if you don’t, I think communication is key. And just letting them know when you’ll be back, when you’ll be able to get back to them, when you’ll be able to support them again is really all you.

Need to do. Obviously there’s different situations and scenarios, right, where things maybe could start on fire, but for the most part, I think that it’s absolutely possible for anybody to schedule some amount of time for themselves to be away from work and still keep up the, the sup, I don’t know, not keep up the support, but still support your customers in a way that, you know, you’re giving yourself time, but you’re still there for them when, when you come back.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. You know, and that kind of, that kind of like, Reminded me of, like, I, I, so for example, like I’m customer support. I actually enjoy talking to people. I like helping people. So I think that job role suits my personality, I guess, in a way where it doesn’t feel like I. It’s a chore. It feels like, okay, I’m gonna just do my work.

Versus, you know, maybe somebody else that was in my role would feel like, oh man, now I have to work and I have to do this. You know? I think that Interact does a good job of sort of recognizing the strengths of people and what they’re really good at, and that way they can execute on that without feeling like, oh God, like now I have to do my work.

Right. It doesn’t feel like that. When we come to work, it feels like, okay, we’re gonna go do our work because we enjoy doing our work. You know? Mm-hmm. And so I think that’s important to. To notate when it comes to our offsites, because I am willingly doing it. I choose to do it. I’m not being told to do it.

And so I think that’s like a huge loss where when you have employees that really feel like, okay, if it’s my responsibility to do it, I wanna do it. I wanna make sure that I’m. Taking care of X, Y, Z. And that’s, that’s not hard to do. You know, that’s not, I mean, so I’m sorry. That’s hard to do. That’s hard to do.

And so kudos to, to those people that have those employees and kudos to interact for identifying us too. So, yeah. Yeah. I love that. I. Overall, I feel like every offsite that I’ve been to has just been so successful, like in different ways. Like I’ve never left an offsite thinking, oh, I wish we didn’t do this.

Oh, I wish we didn’t do that. But I mean, actually for you, Damaris, our most recent offsite, we decided to take an aerial tram. So let me describe it a little bit. It’s pretty much a glass bubble, and I think they said like the max capacity was 80 people, right? I think that’s something 65, I still remember 65 people.

So we’re getting in a glass bubble with probably like 50 people I would say. And this glass bubble is taking us up about 9,000 feet up to the mountain in Palm Springs. So we’re at the base of the mountain where it is 98 degrees dry heat. And once we get to the top of the mountain, it is snowy and cooler temperatures and just a completely different landscape.

And some of us, like Damaris weren’t too keen on heights and everything, but she still made it up all the way. I struggled. I was sweating a little bit, but I made it up. You know, that’s a good point. I think I’ve like always been scared of heights. It elevates more when. I’m in place in situations like that.

But I, I wa I was nervous. I, I mean, obviously you guys saw me sweating over there. I was going through it, but it was also, you know, one of those things where it’s like, you know, you have to sort of face your fear. Just go for it. I knew that once I got to the top, I was gonna be okay. And once I got to the bottom, I was gonna be okay.

It’s just the process of going up and down. So it was a good, it’s something you guys didn’t really know about me. I mean, I don’t think anybody knew that I was like, You know, scared of heights like that, you know, even Melanie, which is our, our the one that usually plans our offsites. Mm-hmm. She didn’t know either.

It wasn’t an information that I relayed, and I’m sure after this she’s probably gonna be like, yeah, we’re not doing that anymore. You know, so but it was fun. We are always learning, you know, from each other. So yeah, I think, no, you go, Jesy. No, I’m gonna switch to a new topic. So you finish this one first.

Oh, ok. Yeah, no, I was just gonna say, I think that helps you show up in, or it rather it helps the tea. It does both. It helps you become a stronger person, right? Because you just faced your fears and you overcame it, and you did something that you never thought you would be able to do, and you also did something that you never do on your own.

Right? That the theses offsite being in a, especially now what we’re a group of like, 12, I think now. Mm-hmm. You, everybody has different interests. You have to do a little bit of different stuff and you’re not always gonna do everything that you love. You’re not always gonna eat the food that you love the most on these trips, cuz it has to be something for everybody.

But it also shows the team how willing you are to be a part of the team. And so may, I don’t know, maybe this is like a little corny of me saying this, but like Damaris, you know, stressing out and being on the, on the list and everyone was sort of supporting her. I was rubbing her back right. You guys were so nice.

We couldn’t help because she was scared, but she still did it. And I that I just hope that that shows anybody listening and all of our customers how much, like how far Damaris and every anybody on the team is willing to go when it comes to different projects. And different requests and different feedbacks and workarounds that we have to come up with when we’re being asked these different things.

Because we have had an offsite before where we did some excursions that people didn’t love, and those people were not willing to do other projects and go out of their way for other people on the team. And that’s not really who, that isn’t who we are. It interact. And so I think that it’s challenging to put yourself in those situations, but you come out stronger on the other side and you really show your team like what you’re made of, kind of, right, because.

You’re willing to take that extra step just to be a part of the team. Yeah. Co kudos, Damaris and the other people who were not, Damaris is not the only one who was a little scared on the, on the tram. That’s so true. That’s We did it. They all, we all did it together. Yeah, we almost kind of bring each other out of our shells.

Like once we were up out the mountain, I think, was it Evan or Graham? One of the engineers there was a river that was snow melt. So you can imagine how cold that was. And either Evan or Graham, one of them decided to walk into the river, take their shoes off and go in, and we were all just kind of baffled, like, oh my goodness.

And you know, they repeated. Then you walk out of the river into the snow and they’re like, oh my God, it’s. So cold. It’s freezing. It’s freezing. Well, guess what? Jackie Ventures down to the river and next thing I know, she’s in the river shoes off everything. Her face is like, oh my goodness, it is so cold.

And I was like, I can’t believe they just did that. Two minutes later, I’m down standing in the river with my socks off and I’m like, oh my God, this is so gold. How did they do this? And never. In my dreams, would I be like, yeah, I’m gonna go walk around in this freezing river. But I saw them do it and I was like, let me give it a shot.

Let’s see how it is. That’s awesome. So I feel like we just really kind of bring out new sides of each other and I love that. Yeah. And then we have, I just have to say too, cuz Graham would appreciate this when we were at the top, Graham, who’s. You know, moving to Idaho, gonna build an earth ship, which is something we learned about him while we were at the offsite.

He started collecting trash while we were at the top. There was plastic bottles and cans and wrappers and whatnot all over the place. And he didn’t ask anyone to help. He didn’t tell anybody he was doing this. We just noticed him doing it. And then some other people, like as we were passing trash, we’re also picking it up.

So it just like getting to see, I mean, this is like, I don’t mean to say this is Graham’s life, right. But like he is, he, he’s very aware of the environment and you know how, I don’t know what I’m even trying to say. He’s very aware of the environment. Let’s just leave it at that. Mm-hmm. And so because of that and his like natural willingness to just go collect trash.

Some people, a lot of us right, would just walk over it and be like, not even thinking, oh there’s trash everywhere in the world. Right. But just the fact that we got to see him doing that, oh, that’s really nice, Graham, let’s also do that. Together, you know, so not a planned event but something that we just sort of like feed off of each other in our different skills and the skills personalities.

Right. Yeah, because we’re so comfortable being around each other when we go to these things. Yeah. I mean that also kind of like Graham, not kind of like Graham in a different way. Annie, our COO, is very bold when it comes to food and trying new flavors and new tastes, and I feel like most of us are equally.

Like into trying new things, but she always takes it to another level. She orders things off of a menu that I would never look at. Yeah. And it’s always fun that she know. She’s like, no, just try. It’s great. And I’ve tried so many new foods on these offsites and been just exposed to all these different things because all these different people mingling together, sharing their like interests or things that they’ve done.

And it’s like not only affected my work life, but my personal life. You know who I am as. A human being. Yeah. When I’m not at work. Totally. So true. True. So true. Well, I feel like that was pretty much all of the questions that we wanted to cover on this offsite stuff, but. If there’s anything else that anyone wanted to hop into besides talking about when our next offsite is and where it’s gonna be.

Yeah, yeah, that’s about it. I mean, I don’t think I, there’s anything new that I wanted to add on, but for the listeners out there that. Are sort of like thinking of hiring on, you know, somebody, or even if you’re like a remote company and you wanna just hire an assistant or somebody to help you out, you know, I think it’s just, I.

Important to just be able to have that open dialogue with whoever you’re working with and allowing them to express themselves. And I say that because during our offsites, like just as, as Jackie and Jesy were saying, like we had our COO see, you know, CFO, see, and, and, and I didn’t feel any different. Like I was able to just.

Comfortably talk to them, express myself, you know, they were okay with my ideas. We were, I wasn’t like hiding my personality or trying to be better or less or, you know, things like, of that nature. It was very, it was very organic and so sometimes just allowing somebody to just speak who they are and being okay with that, it’s just.

It’s so huge. It has such a great impact in team, team bonding because everybody just accepts who you are and it’s a wonderful thing. And so take a shot, try to do some team bonding offsite events, see who they are as a person, get to know them and maybe it’ll just be better, you know? Yeah, I think Tamara said that perfectly.

And the only word that I’m left thinking of is like authenticity, right? We really get to meet our authentic selves with each other. And it really shows up in the work that we do together. So even if you’re hiring somebody for the first time and it’s in a virtual role, make sure that I, if you can’t meet up in person, make sure that maybe you’re at least having a couple of conversations on Zoom on the camera that aren’t scripted, that are natural, that are about the person that you’re working with and not just the work that you do.

Yeah. I love that you guys wrapped that up beautifully. Beautifully. Yes. Thanks, everybody. Yes, thank you guys, and we will be counting down until our next offsite.

See you all next week. Thank you so much. Thank you. Bye Bye.

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Jessmyn Solana

Jessmyn Solana is the Partner Program Manager of Interact, a place for creating beautiful and engaging quizzes that generate email leads. Outside of Interact Jessmyn loves binge watching thriller and sci-fi shows, cuddling with her fluffy dog, and traveling to places she's never been before.