Being part of a distributed company means you will be on your own most of the time, at least physically. As a company, we are constantly communicating via Slack, we have channels for everything, from official company announcements to water cooler channels that goes from Fitness to Supernatural (the CW TV Show) and people who play Pokemon Go. We have a lot of fun, and we take our creed seriously, specially the part about “Communication is Oxygen”, so we are always talking to each other, and to be honest, I feel closer to some of the my colleagues than I ever was to some of the people I worked with in the past. But we don’t see each other often.
So, we get together twice a year. Once you meet with your team members and once the whole company gets together in what we call the Grand Meetup, or the GM. It is a time of the year I look forward to. Because even though I love working from home, or working from anywhere I want, meeting my colleagues/ friends is always an AMAZING experience. I must add here that I work with some wonderful humans. They are smart, nice, talented, and funny. A bunch of beautiful souls and minds that makes me feel like I am out of place sometimes 🤣
So, yeah, we have put together 808 people in a hotel in Orlando (not everyone is able to go for several reasons). The GM runs for 7 days, being the first and the last the travel days. So we have 5 days of activities that goes from Keynotes on several different subjects, to short classes to improve our skills, to game nights, open mic night, eating and drinking with our friends, and lots of fun pictures.
The branding was amazing this year. The entire hotel was filled with the Automattic and the GM logos, our creed was everywhere, in the small details, from the room key card to the logo in the hotel main entrance. It was everywhere.
As I mentioned, the first and the last days of the meetup are travel days, so most part of the company is on their way to the GM location (which changes from time to time) and some of us volunteer to go one day before and come back one day after so we can work while everyone else is flying/driving. So I got there on the 9th and worked on the 10th.
After work Liz and I had planned to go to Universal Studios to check the Harry Potter (Hogsmead), since last year we had visited the Diagon Alley side only, and I must say, it was the worst and the best idea at the same time.
Worst because of the weather. HOLY COW!! That place is hot this time of the year. And being the polar bear that I am, I was struggling not to die from exhaustion and dehydration. On the other hand… NO LINEUPS!!!! It was AMAZING!! Probably because it’s super hot plus the whole hurricane season thing, of course, but well… we didn’t have to wait at all for any of the rides. And it was pretty fun!
Later that day we had a Welcome party
We also, of course, had some time to ourselves. On our free time we went to Disney Springs, took a boat and went to the Disney’s Port Orleans Resort for some Mickey shaped Beignets and Ice cream, played some Uno with my team, went to the Retro Game night, open Mic night and I also used my free time to watch Supernatural season 14 since it had been removed from Netflix Canada and I had access to it while I was in the US 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣
This year we went back to Universal Studios for dinner while having part of the park closed to us. Last year was the Diagon Alley and this year was Marvel’s Island.
Of course I had my DC t-shirt on, because I am me! And we had a blast as usual!
I know it can be a bit overwhelming. You are not used to be around that much people, some of us are introverts and out of the blue you are interacting with 800+ people for a whole week, but it has a lot of value. We make new friends, we have lunch with people we don’t work directly with, we bond with our teammates, we see old friends in person, we grow as humans and as professionals and on top of that we have a lot of fun.
To me, the GM is a time of the year I look forward, always. My first day at work back when I started was the very first day of the GM and it was crazy and awesome at the same time. Since then, the company has more than doubled in size, I’m now part of the first 50% hired 😱 and I am more amazed by this company and this job every year!! Looking forward to the GM2020!!
Oh, and by the way, we are hiring!