I recently returned from Orlando where Automattic hosted its annual Grand Meetup where nearly all of our 800 employees from around the world, spend a week together in the same place. (And yes, we’re hiring.)

Despite being a fully distributed company, I believe it’s still important to meet face-to-face — just not every day, in the same office. The Grand Meetup is our chance to get to know the people behind the Slack avatars and build relationships that can carry us through other 51 weeks of the year, when we’re working from more than 65 countries. It’s so much easier to hear the nuance in someone’s chat messages or p2 posts if you’ve hung out with them at Harry Potter World, or learned about their family, pets, and hobbies during a flash talk.

Photo by Paul Jacobson

The week can be mentally exhausting, given that you’re often meeting many people for the first time. But we urge people to take it at their own pace, and the results are well worth the effort. Our data team actually studied the impact of the Grand Meetup on our work relationships — the connections established between coworkers using our “Meetamattician” tool were demonstrably closer after the meetup:

Before the Grand Meetup.
After the Grand Meetup.

This year we were proud to welcome some incredible keynote speakers: Wild author Cheryl Strayed talking about creativity and writing; Automattic board member Gen. Ann Dunwoody, the first woman in U.S. Army history to achieve the four-star officer rank; Ari Meisel on delegating and automating your life; and Dan Harris, author of 10% Happier, on the panic attack that led him to embrace meditation and mindfulness.

Photo by Leif Singer
Ann Dunwoody. Photo by Luca Sartoni
Ari Meisel. Photo by Luca Sartoni
Photo by jessicacg

5 replies on “The Importance of Meeting In-Person”

  1. Sounds amazing and what a great Idea, actually getting face to face like you say with the faces behind the avatars for a Grand Meetup. My Web Design company is based on remote working, and meeting regularily face to face is much needed. Love the “Meetamattician” tool Infographics really cool graphics data visualisation, would be cool to see an animation.

  2. I wonder what the cost comparison is between flying everyone in for a week vs just having multiple global offices.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s about the same.

    Flying 800 people, hotel, food, conference venue, etc ain’t cheap.

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