Meetups Bring Far-Flung Team Members Together
Published by Spinutech on August 30, 2022
There were no hard feelings when Spinutech’s paid media team gathered at Smash Park, a self-described “eatertainment” venue in West Des Moines, the night of their team meetup.
Or if there were, no one was willing to admit it.
Earlier that day, team members had been divided up into three groups. They were all given the same prompt and expected to develop and deliver a client pitch in response to that prompt. Spinutech’s own Brian Allen and Kelly Eagle were asked to serve as the presenters’ audience, tasked with evaluating each pitch before ultimately determining a winner.
Competition was heated, but a victor was crowned and bragging rights bestowed upon Meghann Anderson-Russell, Chase Bougeon, Andrew Welden, Matt Mackay, and Wesley Attaway.
Members of the losing teams could not be reached for comment, but at the risk of sounding corny, everyone who attended the three-day meetup seemed to depart feeling like a winner.
Team members from six different states descended upon Iowa that week. Most had never met in person before, limited to interactions over Slack and Google Meet up to that point. Even with only a short amount of time together, the team is already reaping the benefits of their meetup.
“The interpersonal bonding aspect was huge. I do genuinely feel a tighter connection with my team members now,” Mark Villaloboz says. “I think it opened some of our eyes to the efficiency that in-person teamwork and collaboration can offer.”
Investing in In-Person Gatherings
To be clear, Spinutech has no plans to walk back its “Work From Anywhere” approach, but finding space for in-person events and activities has always been a priority.
With 160+ team members spread across more than 20 different states, meetups for each functional team were proposed to give them the opportunity to gather in-person. To ensure that time together would be used effectively and efficiently, team directors were asked to outline goals for their meetup, followed by an agenda that would support those goals.
The trickiest part may have been finding a convenient location for each team to get together, but Spinutech’s five office locations provided ample options from which to choose.
As much as every team meetup has presented its own logistical challenges, Bailey Bosson welcomes them, crediting the leadership team for even making these opportunities possible.
“Many of us who have come from other agencies know that this is not normal for an agency to spend money on internal meetups. Not only money but to dedicate the time as well,” Bailey says. “It is truly a privilege and one I'm very thankful for.”
Different Itineraries, Same Result
So far, no two meetups have been the same.
The marketing automation team gathered in Tampa and spent part of one day brainstorming ways to refine their strategy for several clients, before retreating to St. Petersburg for an escape room and a dinner on the St. Pete Pier. Tampa was also host to the social media team, who carved out time to better understand each other through their DiSC styles. At night, they walked the beach and played cornhole — a game at which Mao Own admits he got “annihilated.”
The content team made Chicago their base of operations. After a busy day that included recapping the team’s wins from the first half of the year and setting goals for the second half, the group piled into a boat for an architectural tour up and down the Chicago River.
“Meeting everyone in person helped me better understand who they are and how they work. It helped me develop trust in them,” says Divya Bisht, a content team member who flew in from California. “I was really pleasantly surprised at how humble and kind everyone is.”
The account service team meetup was held in Des Moines, where Johnna Decker says she was captivated by a session on the topic of difficult conversations. She saw the meetup as an opportunity to learn from team members she doesn’t get to interact with on a regular basis.
“For account service, we typically work with a specific set of people and don't have many opportunities to tap into the talent and insights from other account team members,” Johnna says. “Talking and connecting organically with people I don't regularly work with was so beneficial to my role, and it was nice to know that I wasn't the only one experiencing certain things.”
Des Moines also welcomed the SEO team, who were challenged to develop case studies that they then presented to the rest of the team during the meetup. Outside of work, the team surrendered to their competitive natures at Ricochet, a bar and game lounge where they each kept a scorecard while playing ping-pong, foosball, shuffleboard, and other games.
But for many of the team members, it was simply the opportunity to sit down and have one-on-one conversations in an intimate setting that was most rewarding to them.
“I can’t begin to explain how energizing the trip was,” Derek Larabee says. “As someone who really values in-person team bonding, I feel like these are a must.”