How to Design the Perfect IRL w/ Peter Fabor @ Surf Office
IRLs must be intentionally designed. The location, what you do, why the team is gathering, the small details & more. Here's how to do it
Here's the recap. This is the second episode of three about the topic of IRLs. In today's show, I sat down with my buddy Peter Fabor, CEO of Surf Office. We did a deep dive into how to create a memorable IRL. And how he's used his own company offering to create his team's experiences. We spoke about choosing a location, what are companies doing at gatherings, how often the team should get together, why small details like dietary restrictions can make or break the experience, and more. Another invaluable conversation backed by the experience of his team planning and organizing countless IRLs for other companies, as well as, their own.
The chicken & the egg question 🐣
The location of your company & team retreats is a critical piece in whether the team has an amazing experience. But which determines which. Does the chosen location determine the activities the team does? Or, what the team wants to do determine where you go. Confused? That's ok, let's break it down.
You use the location as the determining factor. You choose a mountain retreat or an ocean-side resort. Both sound lovely but they also mean they are more isolated. Whether in the mountains or on the beach there likely are no museums, concerts, nightclubs, or similar next door. That means the focus of the retreat is more around just chillin'. Spending time by the campfire or sea hanging out. Or some kind of rigorous Survivor type team building activities.
Now let's go vice versa. You understand the point of a company retreat is for the entire team to spend time together. Create opportunities for teams to mix and mingle and meet new friends. Etc. That's why you want the team to gather together. So with that in mind, you understand if you do the IRL in NYC that point may be more difficult to achieve. Museums, parks, and everything else that NYC offers everyone most likely mean the entire org splinter to go on their own way. Whether as smaller teams or individuals. Defeating the purpose of the retreat. So that pushes you to the side of a mountain retreat where everyone is far away from all those things together in a resort.
Small details like dietary restrictions can make or break the experience
The following story is TRUE as I know the person it happened to. A friend who keeps strictly kosher went to a company IRL somewhere in the Mediterranean area. The company was aware the person keeps kosher but as we'll see didn't understand exactly what that means. He was told the company would offer plenty of vegan food but that means different things in different in cultures. The fact things are vegan does not make them kosher. So as a smart kosher traveler, he brought a suitcase of food. Luck had it the airline lost the bag (which was only returned o him when he arrived home, though was promised by the next day). So he arrives on a Sunday with no suitcase of food finding the only 'vegan' options he can eat are uncut fruit & veggies. They did also have hard-boiled eggs. So barely at anything Sunday. Monday the suitcase never arrived and again he was limited to fruit & veggies. Tuesday night is Yom Kippur (the holiest day in Judaism that includes a 25+ hour fast). Tuesday AM the company pays for a cab to take him to the closest city to buy food supplies. He buys pasta & eggs and a pot to cook them. Arrives back at the hotel and has to sneak into the kitchen to prepare his own food. Luck has it all the ovens are induction ovens but he didn't buy an induction pot. Long story short he cooks the pasta & eggs on a bonfire he creates just so he has something to eat before a 25-hour fast.
What's the point? EVERY employee MUST BE provided food that they can eat. Regardless of the effort required to get the food there, cook/heat it, and serve it. Alternate options are NOT acceptable. And if you're organizing food on behalf of an employee for that you don't understand the requirements/limitations be sure to get their input and approval before ordering anything.
Scott - [02:50 - 02:56]
Hey Peter, how's everything going today? Happy Friday. We will arrive at the end of the week.
Peter - [02:56 - 03:20]
Hey, happy, happy Friday. For me, it's special Friday because of the, I have a, I have a kid at home all the other days we have daycare. And Friday I have a kid at home and usually it's playing around me when I'm working from the living room. I enjoy it. but today I departed him with my wife or for a walk or somewhere so we can record the podcast in silence.
Scott - [03:20 - 04:46]
That gives me the idea. Maybe, maybe this se maybe, I don't know, one of these seasons I'll do like a family podcast or, or I'll get like my kids that come on and the guest kids that come on, maybe the kids will ask each other questions. Cause I'm always fascinated by this. And I, when we spoke offline, just about how much I'd love to see families and kids come on, cuz that's, that's the true you and I've said so many times over the years, the argument of office and, and remote. I said, I, I can know so much more about you through Zoom than I can in an office. In the office. It was, it was like, no, oh, Peter, the c e o or Peter, the, the marketing guy, and Scott, the customer success or whatever it is, that's all I knew about you and that's all you knew about me. But when you can see a spouse and the kids and a cat and no books in the background. I had, the episode that I launched this past week with Darcy, and all of a sudden she brought up this book, by a guy named Danny Mayers who something, a book about like hospitality and customer service. And it's like right over my shoulder. So I pointed, I'm like, oh yeah, it's right there. And just having that opportunity where you see something in the background, and I've seen a few people would have a picture of, of, you know, whitewater rafting. And as a kid I went every summer whitewater rafting. And all of a sudden, like that's a conversation starter and like a relationship opportunity to build on just by seeing something in the background, which again, in the office, I would never under any circumstance know anything about you that you enjoyed whitewater rafting or read, have the same book as I do.
Peter - [04:46 - 04:54]
Yeah. Definitely better icebreaker than talking about Easies way and Definitely.
Scott - [04:54 - 05:07]
Absolutely. Absolutely. Absolutely. So the way that we break the ice here, sorry, I think there's a little bit of delay, but That's okay. absolutely. The way that we start these episodes is maybe tell us a little bit more about yourself and the founding story about Surf Office.
Peter - [05:07 - 07:00]
Mm, yeah. I I will try to, to make it short. so we, yeah, I always been in the, in tech, and, and product design and working, with, with computer. And I was a bit tired of it. And I wanted to, I wanted to try working remotely. So before I always, it was like in 2013, I always wanted to try working from somewhere where it is a good weather, where I can serve. And I convinced, my boss at that time that if I can work for a few months remotely from Cannery Islands in Spain, in Europe. And, and it was awesome experience. He allowed me to do that. I was still like working on laptop designing, but at the same time, I, I play with this idea of creating, like space for remote workers who would like to do the same, work remotely from a good weather and, and surf. That's what I was doing. And, and I rented some apartments and opened a small co-working space, in Grand Canaria, one of the canine islands. And, that's where it all started with, we, we had like lot of guests coming in, who were digital nomads remote workers, but then we started to have more teams, small teams of like 4, 5, 6, 10 people, from remote companies like automatic or envision, coming to replace and, and to the, to to do the same as as individual remote workers. And after a few years, I thought like, maybe that's something I, I like to develop more and to do it maybe even for larger groups and to in more locations. And so, and so, so in 2017, we started to focus only on this, on the, on remote workers and, that are in the team and work together, or the whole companies that need to host, a company offsite. And yeah, it's this way developed, up to now when we have, more than 100 locations and we organize offsites across Europe and, and the US Canada, central America.
Scott - [07:13 - 08:45]
that's awesome. I I'm very big fan of that space and in the last couple years I've said like, this is such a big opportunity of, you know, creating like an Airbnb for ils. Like, just make it so simple and make it easy to find the right space based on the needs that you have and book it and, and got all that information. So kind of taking a first step, right? And hopefully this is, part of a three-part series on the topic of ils and really hopefully just being able to teach people about the concept of ILS and why they're important, what they look like and what goes into them. Because there's certainly has been a misconception during the pandemic and fortunately now interrelated to getting the return, the, the return to office of remote work, right? You're, and I, I wrote a blog post about this a couple weeks ago, right? You're in your dark apartment with, with the, with the sweatshirt over your head and it's like, no, the hacker type movie. And that's where remote work is. You're totally isolated. You have nothing to do with the employees and that's why, no, you wanna go return to office because culture happens in the office, or you need to get the people together, whatever. It's not, not for a deep dive into now, but maybe it is a starting point, just sharing your definition as someone who started this experience years ago has built a business around that. Like, what the heck really truly is an IRL? And more importantly, why is it truly so foundational to remote teams? Because then again, if you ask any of us who've been doing this long enough, we all tell you how crucial an IRL and opportunities to get the employees together is.
So I'd love just kind of as starting No, from a start line. We'll go from there.
Peter - [08:49 - 10:36]
Yeah. Well, well, we organize this offsites for, for other companies, but we as serve office, we are remote company as well. So when I talk about offsites and why to organize it and, what are the benefits, I, I talk about us. We have the next offsite, in, in March, next, next month, in, in Spain in Catalonia. And we, I, I, I just cannot imagine to run a remote team. We are now 18 people full-time working in sur office. I cannot imagine like to, to not meet in person. so that's, that's maybe where I would start at. it's, I I just cannot imagine to not do that. so it's not, it's not, when you are a remote company, it's not really, like a nice to have thing like let's organize, offsite. It's, it's, it's a must because there are some, some things that remote work is amazing, for deep focus and do things that you already know. Like you have a strategy, you know, you have some, some projects set up. You know what to do and you can focus. And it's, it's amazing when you create like a good, asing culture, you can create very productive, very productive company, very productive team. But there are certain things that don't work very, very well in remote environment. And that's the, the culture, like people, yeah, we, we are built to, to talk to each other, to meet each other. You can replace some of the things with on Slack or, or, or having Zoom calls, but it's not the same as just meeting, meeting in person. So I always ask, like, all the clients that organize with us offsite, we always ask them like, what's the goal of, of the offsite?
Peter - [10:36 - 12:01]
And in some cases, companies say like, yeah, we want to build a new feature or organize a hackathon or work on the product. So it's more like work related, but in most cases it's just, just we want to just spend time together, for 2, 3, 4 days and, and don't like, or sometimes doing, exciting team building activities, but more often it's just, yeah, we just want to work next to each other and then have a coffee after, after, during the, the break or go for a walk or, or cook together. Just, just basic things to know, know each other, know your colleagues, and maybe talk about things that are a bit awkward to, to discuss on the Zoom, because it's very, you want to, you want to keep it professional, right? so yeah, I I, I I would, I would give it this, I would give this as an answer, but yeah, I, I, I'm subscribed to your newsletter. it subscribe like one month ago and it's amazing. And you already started to write about this, about your experience. I and you go quite deep. I, I had a feeling like, yeah, you just want to confirm your opinions with, with me and other people you are interviewing because you already have quite a, quite a good, good idea. do, do you see the same way as as I do what I describe, or you, you maybe have something, something to add from your own experience?
Scott - [12:01 - 13:27]
I, I think you're absolutely correct. I think we're gonna dive into some, some deeper questions a little bit later, but for me it's the retreats and the opportunities to get together. It's about spending time together and about relationship building. And as you mentioned, my newsletter, the third chapter was, you know, going to travel to a, an IRL is like commuting 60 minutes into to doing a zoom call. Like if you're trying to get people from all different, maybe corners of the world or the country or, or what have you, to travel to one place just to sit and do work together, right? A probably nobody wants to really do that. But more importantly, like, is, is that really the purpose? And kind of as you started off the question that you asked to everyone of your, your customers, it's like, essence, what is the purpose? Like, why are you doing this? And hopefully no people doing in the right way. And we're gonna do a deep dive. And obviously the hope on every one of these episodes is to really, you know, do deep dives and geek out and all the kind of little nuanced pieces in which we'll we'll do here of what you should be doing and how it may be different. So I think I, I, but from a high level, very on the same page, it's getting the team together. You can do virtual team building. I've, I've said in many of these episodes that I've very much an extrovert. When I worked in an office many years ago, twice a day, was going to Starbucks with a colleague, every hour was getting up from my desk, you know, going to have a conversation with somebody. And when I went remote, right?
Scott - [13:27 - 14:54]
Without the physical proximity, that was not possible. So I personally recreated that by, you know, looking who's online in Slack, right? Kind of closing my eyes, picking somebody, ah, here's Peter. Hey Peter, I'm Scott, I'm in Israel, you wanna jump on a five minute zoom call? And people absolutely loved it because it was a, it was a change. It was a change right? From Slack. It was no longer texting in the box. It was a human being, right? With a face and, and hands going and a voice and all those things. And it was a conversation that wasn't about work, right? Because even us remote OG companies have used video for the wrong reason all these years. We used video to do work where really the, the video purpose should be, again, to build relationships. And people loved it, to the point where after we did like our second one, then they would start messaging me like, Hey Scott, when are we doing our next, you know, five minute, I used to call it five minute FaceTime People were so into that opportunity just to have a conversation, again, not about work, talk about a weekend, talk about sports, talk about surfing, talk about whatever the hell it is. and people crave that, and that's great, and that's what video is. And you can build a great relationships with people doing these things, but it's not a replacement for, for in real life experiences. And I think, we'll, we'll go in a little bit later of my personal experience and envision, I guess we'll do it now that, no, I spent a lot of time doing these things with my team, but the relationship that I had with my team before the IRL and after the R R L was totally different.
Scott - [14:54 - 16:23]
Like spending those three, four days together in Phoenix, totally, totally game changing the connections and relationships and, and like the depth in that we had. so very much aligned with you. So if I kind of know, pull off of that question, and maybe again we'll start going a little bit deeper now, the idea that probably most people have of what a c a an IRL is, is a company retreat. And the old days, a company retreat meant going someplace to do work. And I think we've kind of dispelled that idea of, that's obviously not the purpose, but in essence, even an IRL isn't necessarily the whole company. And, you know, we had the company retreats that we have the whole company coming to a place, there is the opportunity to get team individual teams together. I know your sales team, your marketing team, your support team regionally, you know, if you have people all over the world, maybe people getting together in regions, and I think your number three IRL piece is getting individual or small groups of employees together mm-hmm. And then as a company, how do you enable and how do you give that opportunity and, and suggest that opportunity to employees. So would love to hear, again, from, from your perspective and obviously from surf office, how companies are using it. Is it always for a company retreat or is it sometimes for team retreats or, again, even with what you're doing or what you're feeling for individuals, right? You have maybe one employee once ago from no Madrid to Barcelona and okay, we're gonna pay for the train ticket, we'll pay for lunch note to go there. know how that should play in.
Scott - [16:23 - 17:14]
And I think related to that, and this is where again, where we're gonna start talking about maybe nuanced differences, it's what do those experiences actually look like, right? So when you get the company together, the entire company, again, that should be mostly fun and team spending time together. But maybe when you get an individual team together, what does the makeup of that IRL look like? And then from the individual level, right? If you and I are going to meet up together, is the expectation, Hey, we're gonna, we're gonna go for a two hour lunch and then we're gonna sit for coffee all day and the company's gonna pay for that. Or is it realistically, hey, we're gonna go in a co-working space or we're gonna work together all day, but yes, we're also gonna go to lunch and maybe to dinner and then have coffee. So like, what kind of does, does the makeup look in these different types of ils? Love them. Let's dive into that.
Peter - [17:14 - 19:02]
I like how you, how you put them into three categories. I didn't think about the third one, like this small individual meetings of, of remote employees. we don't organize it in several office, like for other companies, but we do it by ourselves. quite often, that people just meet, or it's intentional or it's just like, Hey, let's, let's work together. If there are some, we, we have for instance, more people in Libo or more people in Prague, so it's easier for them to meet. But yeah, but sometimes we just like fly to visit each other. I see the kind of ex this individual meetups I see more like extension of, of one-to-one, like, what do you have call it with some, some people who are direct reports. if you meet them in person, it's completely different environment. And and yeah, you just talk in general about, about everything. You have lunch, you can a bit in, in our case, it's like we just work together in from some co-working space and then have lunch, and then in between we just, we just chat. And it's very natural. If you are busy, you just switch and you work more. And if you are not busy, you talk more. then, as a company at Zero Office, we, we, we host both, for us and for the clients. This, two other examples you mentioned. So the, the whole company offsite or big All Hands, each company is calling it differently. so it's meeting all people together. that one is always about the team culture and, and, and strategy and talking about, the future. And, and for instance, on our, our, company of sites, we, we discussed the, the, the company values.
Peter - [19:02 - 20:54]
For instance, with brainstorm or like these things, you can do it, remotely on Slack, but it's not the same as you are in one room. And, and discuss it and brainstorm it. And, so we always try to focus on activities we cannot do, aing or we cannot do remotely. And if someone proposes ai, let's do this presentation. Mm, can we do this presentation or this workshop, remotely? Yes, okay, we should do something else. So it's more focused on, on, what, what to do. Observing other companies, how they're doing this big, company of sites. it's often presentations of, the, the CEO or the, the executive team about the strategy depends how, how large is the company. If you have offsite of 200 or 300 people, it's probably going to be more about, like one person presenting to others and then trying to figure out how you can do, like, how to spend time together, like eating, drinking, doing some sports or just going for a, for a wall. I see smaller team offsite, we organize a lot of them, especially for large company. When companies 1000 employees, we, they contact us and they want us to organize, offsites for specific teams or departments. And those I see more focused on work. in our case of Sy office, in our team, in our teams is definitely focused on work and focused on how to improve things and brainstorm it or what we are, what we are not, what we can improve and what, what we should stop doing, what we should stop start doing. These are like the main questions and you can brainstorm it forever. And like we have like a simple, simple structure for it.
Peter - [20:54 - 21:58]
So first day we just brainstorm the, the ideas, put it on the, on the whiteboard, or it can be a mi or a moral, or it can be on the, on the wall. And then the next days we try to the structure these ideas and put them into some buckets and then prioritize them. And that's maybe the second day and the third day to, to set the, some next steps. Okay, what are we going to focus on? What are we going to do? So everyone after this team of size, after we come back home, everyone knows that, okay, it's quite clear these are three, four things we want to focus on and these are the next steps. And, and everyone is alive and it's, it's amazing. You can be to the offsite and it's just still like mess, lot of ideas, what we should do, what we shouldn't do. And after offsite, after three days, you have quite, quite a clear idea. What, what, was it the same for you when you organized, because I, I that's very cool. You discussed that you organized a lot of offsite team of sites when you worked, in Envision, right?
Scott - [21:58 - 23:35]
so I, I actually, I was not on the, the organizing team, but I did have the experience of, of learning. So as a kind of a somewhat of a follow up into question that the company did two company retreats, at Envision years. And the first one they did was very focused on work and spending time with customers. And they did kind of pulse surveys afterwards, getting feedback. And the messaging was absolutely crystal clear. It's, we didn't want to come here to do work or spend time with customers. We wanted to come and travel to where they were to be spending time in relationships with employees. So it was very good, they kind of learned that message. And the year after they had one, the one that I attended, the first one I wasn't able to attend. the second one was in Phoenix. And it was very much structured on the idea of, Hey, you're coming here to build relationships and spend time with your team. And what we used, I guess is kind of in Chase, no, Warrington was obviously on, on the podcast as well and posted about it used like, kind of like that 20, 30, 50 approach where 20% of the time was work related. And usually it was kind of very high level, right? Your all hands, your kind of team strategy type stuff. 30% was structured events and funds and things like that. And the second IRL that I was at, we used the theme of going back to camp. So we were at a specific like resort in, Phoenix, and then had no pools and outdoor activities and all the stuff you would expect at like a camp. I know going to a camp and all those games and fun things like that, and 50% of the time was unstructured, right?
Scott - [23:35 - 24:57]
Just hang out. Mm-hmm. you're at a resort and you have lots of things to do, just kind of do what you wanna do with the people that you wanna do. And with many of these conversations, I had it when I had no chase on, he said this very similar thing, the most impactful moments in conversations, you know, for me, where we were in Phoenix during the winter, so it was kind of cold at night, was sitting by the bonfire. Like they had couches set up everywhere with like a little bonfire pits was just sitting in there with a beer talking to either a colleague or somebody that I didn't know. And those little conversations were the most impactful for me. Again, just sitting there having a good time, relaxing. And so I'm very much of a believer of, you come, yes, you do work because it's, it's a work trip, but that's only a, a minor part of what you're actually doing. There much more of it's focus on how you build those relationships with people and spend time there. would love to know how, or that, does surf office do this as maybe as a product? Or is that part of like the process onboarding kind of professional services where hey, some company of 50, a hundred people comes to surf office and say, Hey, we wanna do a retreat and maybe we know through surf office, okay, we can find the right place in, in Cayman Islands or in Austria, or, or where have you, does the product or again, part of the professional services, okay, you found your location, you found your specific place for the right reasons. What about how you organize it, like what you're doing and what types of events you're doing? Scott - [24:57 - 24:59]
does surf office help with that as well?
Peter - [24:59 - 26:49]
yeah, absolutely. I, I think very important is that, that first part when you, when you are choosing the location and the venue, and I think we have that like very strong, expertise that, we try to understand what you want to achieve, what you want to do, and then recommend you and offer you the, the right venue. Because a lot of these things you mentioned are venue re like it's venue related. Like for instance, if you want to have a bonfire and, and sit all together, you need to have a venue that has this, this option, you know? And so this way we can already like navigate you to the right experience. And once you, you, you are preparing for the offsite, we, we have, we have like a, network of of vendors, of, of providers at in each location that can help you to, to design your experience based on what you want, what we help you like with all the team building activities and, and, all the, all the experience, related to logistics. So the, the restaurants, the transfers and so, and so, we are not involved in like how, what you should do, like the work part or we don't organize, design sprints or hackathons for you. You have to do it by, by yourself. and, we found this, that's the, that's the, for us, this works because their, their companies will help you with that. if you, if you, if you want. But we didn't have like our type of clients, like for instance, envision, I never had the feeling that they need this type of expertise from us. They won't exactly what I described, like to help with all the logistics, that it just smooth and, and works and they, they can achieve what they want to achieve.
Scott - [26:49 - 28:23]
Yeah, absolutely. It's to have, I think a big thing, it's, and I had this conversation actually with somebody on, on LinkedIn yesterday. they posted something about ILS and organization and HR running this. And I think my perspective was, hey, no, really, nobody internally should organize this thing unless they have specifically event management experience. Because someone without that again, may not understand all the nuances, what to do, why to do what things you should think about, even if you're an hr, you people or what, whatever team you are, a lot of these things you're just not going to realize. So I think you need a professional or a product, and a tool like surf offices that can think, hey, besides just the location, but why the location, right? What do you wanna do? What things do you wanna do? How do you wanna build bring people together? Do you wanna do it by, you know, campfires or do you want to by do it by surfing lessons or whatever, whatever it may be. but kind of taking those logistical pieces and those nuanced things, which I think we're gonna get to, I have a, a good deep question around this, I think is crucially important. And I think that's something that in envision we had someone who was like the event person who had an event management experience, who really knew and kind of look at those little details and those little pieces that nobody was probably thinking about. And I think those specific ones are so important and, and I, I wanna do a deep dive into that note shortly, because I think it's so important. They're so easy to, to overlook. I mean, that they really are game changers in the experiences someone, someone can have.
Scott - [28:23 - 28:44]
But I think before we get there, I wanna just ask kind of a, someone, I'll call it an easy question may not be so easy, but what do you think a, from you being the c e o of surf office, you doing company get togethers and getting your team together and also running a business officially does that, what's the magic number, right? How many times should people get together in a year?
Peter - [28:44 - 30:26]
that's a, that's a very good, very good question. I, for us, what works is we organize it once a year, the, the big one, the all hands. And then once a year we organize the, the team of sites, the teams can meet, like there can be more teams, together. Like for instance, the last one, we organized was the sales team and the marketing team. and, and the team of, that works with the, with the vendors and partners, we were all together, but for in, in one location and, and operations, team was had a different, different offsite. So you can, you can merge them, but this, this looks like the setup that works for us. So you as an employee, you have, you have two offsites per year, one big 1, 1 1, small one with your team. And, organizing its, less we felt that it's, yeah, it's, we, we are missing something and organizing it more often. it's, it's quite, challenging, because yeah, people, I, I see com I see, I see a lot of companies organizing off sites more often, and they try to do it four times a year. They never do. Like, they, they make it three times a year. Like everyone who has the goal like to organize it four times, they end up doing it three times per year. And I see that those are more like a startups between 15 and and 30 people and they can manage it. Once you have more people, it's, it's way more difficult to organize everyone and agree on the dates and, those, yeah. And those, they are also typically, younger team members. So I see it on myself.
Peter - [30:26 - 31:53]
I have, I have a kid as we discuss at, the beginning. I have a kid family and it's, it's more difficult for me just, go somewhere for five days. I have to agree with my wife, we need to take care of the daycare and, and you know, like all the logistics of my personal side and yeah. For people like you, you, I remember you have four kids, it's, it's even more challenging. Like you cannot disappear. Like yeah, you cannot disappear, three, four times a year for, for a week somewhere, right? Like it's, you can of course, but it, yeah, it's, it's, this is, this is, this is a tricky, tricky one. There is no, there is no magic formula. So it depends what works for your company. one observation I have, if you are a new startup and you don't have a product market fit and you are remote, that's very, very hard to, to make it. It's, it, it, it just easier when, when you are in person, when you are a startup and you try to find a product market to fit, it's way easier in the person. If you're trying to do it remotely, it's, you are like, it's like five times harder. And in those cases, I see it very beneficial to eat, to meet, way more often. Like even like every two months because you need to brainstorm a lot. You need to, yeah, you need to iterate very often and it's easier to do it in person.
Scott - [31:53 - 33:24]
No, I love that. It, it's very in line with pretty much everyone that I, that I've spoken with. And I think what my belief is and what I put in, you know, in the original newsletter, we'll call it three, right? You have one company retreat, the entire company a year. You have one team retreat during the year. And the third one I like to put again is those, the individual one-on-one employees or small groups of employees who may live in the same place. So for me, I think I call that an IRL cuz again, you're giving the opportunity mm-hmm. can you have to suggest that for a company and have a policy and a procedure on, on how to do that. You know, I'm, I'm big fan of the, the three approach. So let's, I guess we'll deep dive now into a topic that you brought up and thank you for ringing up. So now is the perfect time of, you know, how often you do it and the person like you, who is a parent and like me, where this is also something that I put in a follow up in that the LinkedIn post I had just mentioned where thinking about these small pieces are so crucially important to the experience. Where again, I think why you need an event person or why you need somebody, a product like surf office and, and that I think professional services mentality of here's the thing that you're thinking about, right? Okay, you're, you're having people travel from around the world and what are you thinking about how they're gonna get from their house to the airport, how they're getting from airport A to airport B, how are they getting from airport wherever they're landed to the place that they're going.
Scott - [33:24 - 35:09]
But they don't think about small things like, hey, I'm a parent of four, you're a parent of one when we go somewhere, right? We put extra work on our spouse. So they have now more work to do. And the smart companies are thinking about this of, and I think even, I think when I remember correctly envision support of this, how do we give like a stipend, hey, let's give the family, you know, $50 a day to have taken or to pay for babysitting or to do something small again to help that, you know, family member who's left kind of behind taking care of the extra kids. Again, something thinking outside the box of how it's related or something like dietary restrictions. I think this is a, a big one. I'd offline, I had spoken to chase about this cuz he was looking for some insights. I had a good friend who worked for a great remote company who did a, an IRL somewhere, a call within the Mediterranean region. I don't want to put out names or places just to, so to kind of keep it quiet. but he, like me, keeps kosher. and kosher is something specific, right? When you have a very specific dietary will call it restrictions where what you can eat and when you can eat. And for someone who keeps kosher means that things maybe outside of Israel or big Jewish communities, you need a CER certification, a kosher, kosher certification that this food, let's say is kosher. And even though the company knew that, they ended up not having any kosher food and they said, Hey, no, we have all these vegan options. Well, vegan in one country is totally different from another country. Another thing, and that didn't really fall in line with what being kosher is.
Scott - [35:09 - 36:40]
So like the things didn't line up no side by side. And what happened with him is any smart kosher travel like myself, like we bring a suitcase of food with us wherever we're going because we know, hey, it may be difficult to get access to food and of course, you know, whatever, no, whatever theory it is, the suitcase got lost. So he gets to this place and really the only thing he can kind of eat is like uncut vegetables and like uncut fruit and like barely had anything to eat. And he got, he got there on a Saturday, Sunday morning, the suitcase was supposed to be found and delivered to the hotel by Monday. It never got there. Eventually came back here to, to Israel. So Sunday didn't really have anything to eat. Monday, didn't have anything to eat. Finally Tuesday, Tuesday night was, was Yom Kippur, which is the, like the highest of all Jewish holidays. It's a 25, 26 hour fast. So Tuesday morning he hadn't really eaten two days. He takes a taxi, which a company pay for, for an hour drive to like the nearest whatever city to buy a pot to buy pasta, to buy eggs so he can kind of make food for himself. So he has enough to eat before the, the 25, 26 hour fast. And of course, as it gets to back to the hotel, has to have arguments, has to kind of sneak into the kitchen to be able to cook his own stuff because they didn't want to and whatever. And he finds out that it's only induction oven. And he didn't buy an induction pot so he couldn't even cook the food in the kitchen of the, the space. And he had to end up going like building a bonfire and having to cook it there.
Scott - [36:40 - 38:00]
But here is like this company who does a whole get together of a hundred something people, gets people together thinking about this that, but misses out on, hey, there's people with dietary restrictions and really what does that mean and what does that require? And how do you make sure that that person has access to the food that they specifically need in the specific way that they need, right? If somebody has an allergy, you can't just mix it in with some other food, right? It has to be packaged well because again, if it has traces of whatever it is, that can be a problem. So I think how, how, I would love to hear from your experience running your trips and from the surf office and what, I mean, again, this podcast is to educate people, right? So, so company leaders, people leaders, whoever it is that are listening to this podcast that are now planning or thinking about an IRL, like what are some of these little things that, again, they're probably never gonna think of themselves, but right. That's a difference maker for this person that I l sucked. Like even if he admits it or doesn't, right? You go somewhere, you travel, you don't eat for like three, four days, how much can you enjoy? So you have this great opportunity and like what, what impact does that have on him and the company? So we love it kind of your sense of like somebody's little nuanced things that company leaders and, and whatever people, leaders who are organizing or thinking about things. What are, what's your, what should need to be thinking about here?
Peter - [38:00 - 39:45]
I I was, I was smiling about, your story with the, with the kosher food because yeah, it's, I see it, I see it as, I see it as the big issue, for, for employees, but employers don't usually think about it. We have to think about it because we want to make everyone happy. Director restrictions. And food is definitely one of the most complex, parts of the, of the retreat organization. I would say the most complex ones are the, the flights, the, the transfers from the airport and the foot, this tree. And very rarely the companies that never organize retreat realize it. And when we talk to them, they, because now it's remote work, it's on the rise because of covid. Lot of new companies are remote and they want to organize offsite for the first time. So they, they research it, they find serve office, they contact us, they ask like, Hey, can you help us with organizing offsite? And it's quite, challenging to explain them the value of serve office because they don't realize these things and they don't see them as important. And we learn that the best, best serve office customers are those that already organized retreat of site before. And they understand all these nuances and they understand how difficult it's to make everything working well. And, and, and, and those appreciate it and they want to, they want to work with us. and new clients is more like, yeah, well we can do it by ourselves. Maybe we can, and I, and we are telling them, maybe you should try it to organize retreat by yourself, and if it doesn't work or you think it could be better, you can always come to us.
Peter - [39:45 - 41:34]
And they usually come back to us and we don't have to then explain all these, all these details. food is, food is very tricky. We have lot of stories with kosher food, halal food. And so we, we found some few, few hacks that that work for us that in, in lot of locations we offer, if, if there is a good, restaurant in the hotel, like a very good quality restaurant that they can, they can prepare vegetarian food or vegan food. We, we try to offer this, by default. So it's a bit, yeah, it's, it's quite different approach. Traditional approach is that you ask how many people are vegetarians, how many are vegans? We, we also asked that, but it's, we found like when you organize offsite, it's way easier to just assume that everyone is vegetarian or everyone is vegan. And if, if you can prepare very tasty food. So it's not just like some vegetarian alternative. No, it's very tasty food. we learn that people who are not vegetarians, they don't mind to eat for three days, like very tasty vegetarian or vegan food. And you solve a lot of problems because then you can focus only on dietarian like some allergies and like special restrictions or Yeah. People who have kosher, like they eat kosher or halal. yeah, we also, like, we all, we always, recommend if you have people in your team who eat kosher food or halal to organize offsite in larger city. So don't go somewhere remote and yeah, we, no, nobody can like promise you that you will get, kosher food. But if you, for instance, in Europe, you go to Barcelona for sure you can find, kosher food, you know, it's depends also like how many people are in the team.
Peter - [41:34 - 43:14]
Is it one person out of 50 who is kosher? Then maybe let's find some alternative. Maybe there can be some food delivery for that person if it's half of the team. In that case, there should be the hotel and onsite restaurant, prepared for this and prepare kosher food maybe for everyone. I, I don't eat kosher food. I I don't require kosher food, but I probably don't mind to eat kosher food for three days. Right? Like why? And it's also like a good way to, to, to learn from about other cultures. I would, I know about kosher food that you cannot mix, meat and milk, together. But, I, I'm, I'm not sure if I know I I I I know more. So these are like, these are like little, little nuances and we have, we have a team and, and processes to like gather that, information about the directory restrictions. And, and then we have guidelines for our, our team like that is planning retreats. They have guidelines what exactly do in each each case. And we learned it in, we learned it by doing, I, I remember actually like one, the retreat we organized for, for envision. and there were, there were people, they were not eating kosher food. They were not, restricted to kosher food. but there were some people who were not eating, seafood. And I didn't know that. Like it's part of like the culture that, you don't, I I I think it's related to culture that you, you don't eat, seafood. And it was quite tricky because they were in the small town in Portugal that was focused on seafood. So the best thing you can get there was seafood.
Peter - [43:14 - 43:46]
The second best thing, thing you can get there was the, was the meet. And for anything else it was not maybe ideal. So it was, it was a, it was a really, a challenge to, to find the right setup. But we did end it. I, I learned, I learned that at the time that this is the, this is the case and we have this, as I said, we have this, this rule that if you have a lot of people with very special, restrictions, you should go to location that it's, it's a larger city. So you can, you can find all these options.
Scott - [43:46 - 45:26]
Yeah. So, yeah, I mean it's very interesting and I think one of the points I wanted to bring out with this when thinking again, if you have one or two, let's say people keep kosher or keep halal or, or some kind of dietary restriction, it's not only them saying, Hey, I need a kosher diet, and oh, okay, I'll try to find something. It's, I think collaborating with that person where you find, cuz you can get kosher food delivered catered food, probably delivered anywhere on the planet. It's making sure hey is right, is this good for you? Is this acceptable? It's not just make, taking the assumption for someone who doesn't understand kosher, doesn't understand halal doesn't understand some kind of allergy. Hey, look at this here, look at the menu, look at this, look at the website. You know, is this acceptable to you? Yes. Okay. Yes. No, make sure you find that. And then also logistics on the actual space. So part of like, with the kosher, it's when you're getting, let's say kosher food delivered to, to a place, it's when they call it, you know, sharing some insight when they warm it up, usually what they'll do is they'll double wrap it and let's say like two, two layers of aluminum foil. So it's important that at least from the kosher side, that that wrapping is not taken off. So you may think, oh, let me take off the wrapping and put it in the oven and mm-hmm bring it out to you. But to keep the really kind of the kosher cert certification that has to be warmed up or heated up in double wrapping. So then it's like the company or the person who's running this informing the, the hotel or the, the resort that you're saying it's, Hey, when you have these meals, right, we have these, these special meals and understand when you prepare these meals, you have to keep it in the same packaging or you have to wrap it in this.
Scott - [45:26 - 46:33]
So it's all these little pieces again where you may not think and you may understand collaborating with the employees, so the person running the program understands, and then they can kind of share that out. And I think, you know, that collaboration is very important. So kind of what you had said about the location brings me into a, to a next question of from I think what you're seeing in the data and from your perspective outside of just food, is there like a right location, right? Should companies be focused on doing their ILS in a more city location, or doing it in a more rural location? And I think, you know, there's pros and cons to doing both. And I think what I've found, and, and from the conversations that I've had across on this podcast, on this topic, I think there's also a big difference of whether the entire company to is getting together in a location that you do versus a specific team in what you do. So we'd love to hear kind of like what you're seeing. Are people preferring, you know, out in the country somewhere, or they're doing it somewhere in the city, and also maybe share some pros and cons of doing it in each place that, that you've maybe personally have experienced, you know, running the, the, the team retreats that you've done, but also obviously through the companies who've been running them through you.
Peter - [46:33 - 48:26]
Mm-hmm. yeah, the first step is definitely looking for the location where you can easily get and everyone can easily get. And that's, that's the number one, thing. And a very often the main mistakes what companies make. They, they, they start planning the retreat the way that someone post on Slack, like, hey, where we should organize the next retreat. And then you have their like long tread, conversation. We should go to Singapore, we should go here. And people are recommending the, the, the places where they used to go for vacation or there are places where they live and they want to show their colleagues. And it, it's like very, very obvious that everyone will offer what is like, what they think is the best. But, organizing retreat, it's more, it's more pragmatic. You, you should meet somewhere where it is easy for every most people to get like how to, how to optimize. you should always optimize on the, the time of travel. So like in average time of travel per person should be, yeah, as, as short as possible. So that's like the first step. And then you look, we have a tool on our website, it's co-location finder where you can put, locations of all your team members, how many people are in each location, and it'll calculate you the, the optimal place to meet. And there's like the first step where you start like, okay, the, these are like three options, that, that are the most optimal. Let's work on it. Let's see what is the best for us. And then you start to look, okay, are we going to city, are we going to the, the countryside? Deciding between these two, like from the data, what we, what we see is there is a shift after Covid, for countryside.
Peter - [48:26 - 50:09]
So before it was maybe like 70% of sites we organized in the cities and 30% in the countryside. Now it's exact opposite, 30, 70. And I think it's related to, countryside is amazing for like focus connected with other people. You are just, you are, you are with your team, you do activities in the nature, you spend more time together. When companies go to the city, it has its benefits. For instance, the, the nightlife. You can go partying, you can go clubbing if you want. you have many more options for restaurants. It's, usually easier to get to the city from the airport. You can have public, even public transportations or trains. So it can be like faster, cheaper. And so, but it's, there are more distractions and people come to New City. Imagine that. I've never been, I never been in Tel Aviv and if I would fly to Tel Aviv for a company of site, I always wanted to, to visit Tel Aviv. And I want, we are there for company of site for three, four days. I want to see a few places, right? Because I never been, and everyone want to see, I want to visit that cafe. yeah. And when you, when you organize offsite in the countryside, like you don't have these distractions. The only distractions is are your, are your colleagues and, and activities you are going to do there. So it connects, it connects more the people, but there is no the, there is no right formula that you should do it in countryside, you should do it, in the city. but for certain goals is better city and for certain goals is, is maybe better countryside.
Scott - [50:09 - 51:34]
Yeah, I'm, I'm not surprised at all with the data shifting more to the country. and what I've seen and and again the conversations that I have when looking at the pros and cons, you, you've, you've hit them perfectly, right? The pros of being in a city environment are, there's museums and there's culture things and there's sites and there's nightlife and there's all these things to do. There's so much, obviously more activity to do in a place and really kind of requires the company to kind of, I don't wanna say do less or organize less, but I think the biggest con obviously number one, right? Significantly more expensive. If you're bringing a hundred people to a museum and to a concert and to things like that, that's a hell of a lot more money. But then the thing, the biggest thing, it's right, you Peter, you've never to tel Aviv, Hey, I want to go do stuff, right? So I'm gonna kind of sneak out or I'm gonna have a couple people. So you have that opportunity where the whole purpose of the, the retreat or the IL is to bring the team together to spend time together. But if some of those people are going over here and some of the people are going over there and other ones are going over here, well you lose a lot of that opportunity to get the people together and spend the time together. So I think that's very much of a, a con on that side. conversely on the re mobile, the areas out outside of the city, it's obviously there's less to do. It's more in nature. There aren't as many activities than that requires the company to plan a lot more, be a lot more involved in the actual activities and the, the structured time that are, that are involved.
Scott - [51:34 - 53:01]
Obviously they can use surf office for that, but because everyone is stuck, right? And we'll call it stuck in the same location, that enforces that idea of spending more time together and spending, again, having those conversations where again, because you can't, you, I mean you really can't get out anywhere. And I think, yes, number one, the most important thing is it's like you're not making five stops and you're not traveling 24 hours to get somewhere. Cause nobody, I mean that, that's just terrible. But what I've also seen and I think is a, is a difference in whether you do in the city or out in rural is the difference between a company retreat and a team retreat. Cause again, the thing, the idea of the company retreat is you bring potentially people together that have little interaction that may have never met each other. And by being in a rural area, which like my two senses, that's the, that's the proper place to do a company retreat is in a more rural area because again, everyone's stuck in the same location and that really forces people to meet other people in the company versus as a team, right? We work together every day, we collaborate every day, we know each other very well. So I think having that opportunity of now going out to the city, right, there's probably less of a chance or maybe a greater chance where the whole team goes to the same bar, goes to the same restaurant. Yes, you may have a couple, depending on the size of the team, you may have a little bit of a breakup, but it's much more likely that you'll have more cohesiveness cuz you already know each other, right? You already have that preexisting relationship.
Scott - [53:01 - 54:31]
And I think that's something that's extremely important, for people to think about when, when they're planning it, is it a company very focused on, on the relationship building? Is it teams? Okay, maybe it's less so of kind of no forcing that, that interaction. But I think that brings up one of my favorite questions and it's related to I think the point that most people won't think about when they're organizing these events. It's right, a company retreat, we get people, a hundred people, 150 people from all around the country and they all come out to, I dunno, some place in the ese mountains, right? Some middle of nowhere place. And the assumption is, wow, they're all gonna mix, they're all gonna meet each other, they're all gonna hang out. And that's human beings are human beings and that's just not the way it works. And I know personally experienced this when I was an envision, when we did the IRL that I went to, that every single meal was an interesting sociological observation or experiment that every single team sat siloed together. So your iOS team sat with your iOS team, your, your APAC sales team sat with your APAC sales team and every meal, everyone sat with their group, they, people that they knew and me either being a very much of an extrovert or excuse me, because I was the, again, the first employee in Envision and everyone there except for the two co-founders came after me. 90% of those people I had no interaction with. I didn't know who they were. So I purposely sat at a different table every meal and I refused to sit with my team and they gave me a hard time, they're like, listen, why aren't you sitting with us?
Scott - [54:31 - 55:05]
I said, I talk to you every day. I know you. If it wasn't for these three, four days, I would never meet any of these people. I would never have the opportunity to interact with any of these people. So I purposefully made the opportunity to meet people. So I think the big question, again, I think is something that aren't, isn't being thought about. It's now that you've gotten everybody from around the wherever into one location, how do you actually really, it has to be intentionally, intentionally create those opportunities for people to mix and mingle outside of just the core team. Because again, human beings are just going to tend to spend time with the people that they already know.
Peter - [55:05 - 56:02]
Mm-hmm. very good question. and yeah, you, my brain is now like working very hard because like even before, what you, what you said about the, the, the retreat in the, in the city, it's, sorry to coming back to previous question that you, you, you nailed it. I I, it's true. And I didn't realize it, that when you are a small team and you go to the city like this, problem with the distractions is not really an issue, and you spend time together that this is the, this distractions, this is an issue when you are, when you are a larger, larger group, or like, it's all company of site. yeah. Good. Very good. Very good observation. yeah, the, I got now a bit lost, because I came back to the, to the previous question. Sorry, can you remind me the, the last one?
Scott - [56:02 - 56:31]
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So the question is, when you get the whole team from across the planet together, how do you create those intentional opportunities for people to mix and meet other people? Because again, people tend to be, Hey, at the meals, at the unstructured time, I'm just gonna kind of sit and hang out with people already that I know. And that's obviously not the point of the retreat, the retreats to, you know, beat, meet and build relationships with people across the entire organization.
Peter - [56:31 - 58:19]
Yeah. Yeah. I was already thinking about the answer, and then I, and I was like, yeah, but what you said before, I should, I should, I should say something, react to it. with, we, we had like, one company at there should be a tool for that because they build their own like spreadsheet. They were 100 people, and they create the spreadsheet with 100 people. And that was like, it was like a, I don't know, like some tool or some plugin that they, they, they mix the people every day, like in groups of five or six for dinners. And so they couldn't choose that they would like, like nobody could choose, I want to sit with my team. No, this is for Tuesday. These are the other five, four or five people you are going to sit with. And for exactly this, this reason. And it worked very well for them. And, I'm, I'm telling this as a story, to other customers when we, when we discuss this, this issue. But now I, yeah, I started to think that maybe we should have like a little tool like that and operates to the, to the companies. It's, it's, it's, it's definitely, I, I, when I'm on the, our arm of side, I always try to talk with, with everyone, and I just like always look the second day or third day that who, who is left. I didn't have like a one-to-one, like deeper, deeper conversation. Then, another way how to encourage these discussions, these conversations between people who don't know each other is to, to organize some, some hackathon. That's, that's quite often activity what companies do. So they organize hackathon and they create teams of people who don't work together.
Peter - [58:19 - 01:00:03]
And the purpose of the hackathon is actually, yeah, to create this bonding between like, hey, there is one person from marketing and sales and developer and designer and maybe developer, designer work closely together, but, support person or salesperson doesn't work so closely together with, with developers and designers. So they create this team and they, those teams have to work on some, they work on some new projects or new ideas for, for one or two days, and then they present it. And that's, that's another way to do it. And the church one I observed is to organize activities that are, creating this environments naturally. one is, definitely like hiking or walking. If you go somewhere for a hike, you can stay in like a small group, but then, I don't know, you are slower and you just bump into someone else and you start to talk. And if you are a bit, maybe B, because also people are afraid to start conversations with others because they're feeling like maybe we'll not have what to talk about. It's going to be awkward. And during hiking or walking, what is amazing that if you are feeling that it's getting a bit awkward, you just like, I didn't need to drink water, you know, and I just, you, you just stop and, and pause and you, you can come back to that person later and it's way more natural. But when you are in, for instance, in a restaurant and you are sitting next to each other, you're just forced whole evening to sit next to that, next to that person. Another activity, where I see this working well is, is cooking together. Like we organize, well, very popular team building activity is to, to cook something together.
Peter - [01:00:03 - 01:01:01]
Like in Spain, there is, we have in some locations in Myorca or in Valencia, we have, a pa cooking class. So you learn to cook pa, if you go to Lisbon, you, you learn to cook, to bake this like small pastry called past very popular in, in Portugal. And so you, you can learn how to cook like a local, local food, local specialty. So you learn something new and you talk with your colleagues and you know, it's, it's way more, you talk about food, but you can talk about work. Some people don't like to cook and they drink some wine and talking and observing others and telling them how they are doing things, in the wrong way. And it creates this environment where people mix together and they're just like, they talk to each other, but they, it's not forced. It's not like that first example I mentioned that you divide people into groups and it's a bit forced. And some people might feel uncomfortable with this, with this approach.
Scott - [01:01:01 - 01:02:29]
I think all, all of those are actually very good. The first one with the assigned seating, so I had, Liz Leary, also on the show in one of these episodes. And that's specifically what she had done with her teams at Trello and Atlassian over the years, that every dinner business time seats, like, kind of like a wedding, right? You come in, you see the table with like your name, and there's a table number on there mm-hmm. where you're specifically ensuring that people who know each other or work together don't sit at the same table. I, I actually very much appreciate that idea, and I think that's a great idea. But the other point of the activities, and I think this like the structured fun is, is the great op opportunity, because if you don't like hiking, are you really gonna go on a hike? Probably not. Like if, if you, so I think it's very much those activities also brings the connection because you have that mutual interest. I love hiking. You like hiking. So even that initial piece there, like, there's that mutual interest. And I think that's really where relationships are built, especially with people you don't know. It's on those mutual interests. So whether it's cooking or whether it's hiking or things like that, I think those are again, the, the real opportunities. we're kind of moving on. I know, I see we're, we're, and you know, running, a little bit, long, which is always great, but love to hear, obviously all the companies that you have worked with over the past. And even though seeing from your own teams, if you have any data to share, I would be fascinated with data, but would love to see the impact that you've come across with, again, your team or companies of the impact of the IRL, right?
Scott - [01:02:29 - 01:02:51]
Companies are thinking, right, what's the return on investment? I think that will be related to my last question, right? We're spending money, we're getting everyone together. What is the output of that? Like, what comes out of that, you know, happiness, productivity, you know, things like that. What have you seen from the companies that have used surf office and have had great experiences and also from your own team and what has been that Im, that impact and that output, of getting people together?
Peter - [01:02:51 - 01:04:45]
Mm-hmm. I, I always think, about, company offsite as a, as a tool for, for retention, for improving retention of your, of your employees. you can, you can spot some problems. What, or like if people are not happy with something and it's somewhere, somewhere deep, it's harder to get that inside or information, remotely. But once you are in person, you can dig into it. You create like a safe environment and you can understand better people. And what are their, for me is, is very important to understand like, what are the motivations of people? Like what, what do you want to do? Like, why you, what do you want to achieve? What do you want to be a manager in the future? Do you have this job? just to, to have a job? Like you want to travel? Like what are your, what are your preferences and motivations? And then help them to achieve them. And we have, for instance, some people in the team that, that, want to travel more. They want to be like, they want to be those digital nomas and they want to spend like few months in, in, in different locations. And yeah, I, I, I'm thinking like, yeah, if they are, if we are going a service office to provide these people great, work environment and good, fulfilling job, and also like, help them in that private life that they can achieve this, it's like there is no reason why they should think about working for another company, right? And I, yeah, I, I, and this little nuances, I think it's difficult to, to spot, just remotely. And then this way you are also, like, during offsite, you are more connected to, to your team.
Peter - [01:04:45 - 01:06:24]
You understand what, what are their problems, what are they doing? Like everyone, in, in the team, they have their, like, everyone has some pain points about the work. Like, you know, like something, what should be improved? I dunno, not, I don't like work with this tool, or it's slowing me down, or this, or this process should be changed. And once you meet in person, you and you start to talk about work, you can, they will tell you like straight away all these things, and it's, it's way clearer for you. Like, oh, this is maybe something what we should really, really focus on. So it's like these little, little nuances. And I always had, had the feeling, and I, I see the re as a result of offsite that people are aligned after, after offsite. Like people know, like what we are doing, why we are doing it. Especially when you add new people in the team. Like if you have colleagues that have been working with you for, for three, four years, then they, they understand like why, what we are doing, why we are doing that. But if you have someone who joins us six months ago, you assume they know because you have the knowledge base, you talk with them. And so, but it's not always true. And they can be a bit confused and they don't want to, like on Zoom call or on Slack, they, they're not going to tell you like, yeah, I'm a bit confused with this. Cause they don't want to look, that yeah, they, they, they're not motivated or something, but they, they, they, they will tell you more directly in person and you can, you can work with that information. So I guess depends on, on each company.
Peter - [01:06:24 - 01:07:05]
For, for us as service office and our team is about connecting with each other and understanding what others people are doing, understanding better other departments, because you talk, think more about like your own department and what are the, what are your challenges, what are your KPIs? And you, I don't know, if you work in sales, you, you care less about like what is the operations or support team doing? And, and, and it's better, like offsite is great to understand the struggle of others and empathize and, and this helps the whole company to grow because you work more together as, as one team, not like a separate, separate teams.
Scott - [01:07:05 - 01:08:14]
No, I think that's, that's very valuable. I think the last question that I have is something that I hinted at before. I know we're at the point we're in a recession, in a downturn in economy. And fortunately many companies, as we see in the news every week are laying people off. So companies are very much looking at their finances. You know, for me, and I've been preaching this for, for over a year, if there's any time that a company should ever be spending money on employee engagement and employee happiness, it's now, like, now more than ever. So there's definitely teams that are still now planning and thinking about IRAs and getting people together. So what do, I would love your advice or your maybe top tips, top three tips, something like that for companies who are thinking or listening to this episode and they're like, yes, right, I need to get my team together. I'm totally sold, but at the same time, we can't break the bank. Like what are maybe some suggestions that you have to ensure, hey, let's get people together because there's so much relationship building and all the kind of output and things that you see, but at the same time, when trying to think of like return investment, making sure that you're not spending way too much money that, that you may not have.
Peter - [01:08:14 - 01:09:57]
Mm-hmm. yeah, there are a few tips, for sure. the, if you, if you meet in smaller teams, it's always, it's always cheaper. So if you think that, you cannot afford to organize large offsite, you can, you can, you can just meet, in smaller teams, those smaller teams, you don't have to organize it. with zero office, it's, it's way easier. For instance, when you're a team of 5, 6, 8 people, we even, we, we organize the, the retreat with our minimum, minimum 15 people. Because yeah, we believe that when you are six, eight people, you can, can just rent Airbnb, work together from, from apartments. Like, you find something with like nice, nice, large living room with good internet and it's, it's going to be always way cheaper when you organize a large, large event because at large event, you need to stay at one place. You need to stay in the hotel because you can find Airbnb for, 70 people. And, so this is the one way to organize at least team of sites. If you, if you cannot organize the, a large one, then looking on the seasonality the same way if you, if you travel, by yourself or video family, if you travel during July and August, it is going to be more expensive than in October and or, or in March. And many companies, they already, they, they understand it and they contact us that, they want to organize offsite during the shoulder seasons. And it's also honestly doesn't, it's, it's even better experience than when you organize offsite in the, during the high season, it's, it's way cheaper because for instance, flights are, are, are less expensive accommodation, everything is, it's less expensive, but it's also less shrouded. Peter - [01:09:57 - 01:11:07]
you, you, you just get better experience. But I see that, you, you have to compromise on something. and that's the, I think that's the hardest thing for companies that they, I see very often that they come to us like, we want to organize offsite in July and we want, one person per room. So that's another thing, like if you can, if people can, or at least some people can share the room, like you put two people to one room. But of course, like with the separate vet, you save a lot of money on the accommodation. And so there are like few things that where you can save a lot of money and, maybe I, I describe like three main ones, like smaller teams, sharing the rooms and, seasons, low season, mid-season, you have to compromise at least on one of them. If you organ, compromise on more, you can save, you can save more. But it's difficult when you come to serve office or to decide organize site by yourself, and you don't want to compromise on any of this. And you say like, yeah, I want just, I want like better price. it's, it doesn't, it doesn't work. So yeah, this would be my, my three tips.
Scott - [01:11:07 - 01:12:18]
Yeah, those, those are definitely helpful. And I like one of the tips that you mentioned about, you know, single rooms versus double rooms and no, I had that experience with Envision and again, something ways to incentivize and, and, and ideas that envisioned, when we had the second one, the resort that we were at, like had both single and doubles. So people had the option to choose, right? If you wanted a single room, you can get a single room, but the company was tried to incentivize, Hey, if you bunk up with somebody, if you get a double room with, you know, a friend or colleague, you know, you'll get a swag package, you know, so they get like all this kind of additional stuff and like money to use at the, at the resort. So we're gonna kind of give you an incentive to double up, right, the kind of cover some of that cost or, or cost to the person of not having their private room. and it's a nice little kind of ways to get the, the right, the right fit. But I think on, based on time, I think unfortunately we run out of time for today, but people who are listening who've, want to learn more about you, they want to get connected with you, they wanna learn more about Surf office, hopefully use surf office to organize their, ils, what's the best way to get ahold of you and what's the best way to get ahold of surf office and, and hopefully use your service.
Peter - [01:12:18 - 01:13:11]
Yeah, surf office, you can find on, surfoffice.com. You can find out all the information and you can find out the tool I mentioned about finding the most optimal flight when you are meeting, with your distributed team. if you, if you like updates about, about offsite and, and remote work, I, I share sometimes on my LinkedIn profile, so you can find me, when you search my name Peter, Peter Faber, and I'm quite active on, on Twitter where I share more, information about like, my insights about the hybrid hospitality and how, how remote work is impacting the hospitality business. The same thing I'm also sharing on my, on my blog and my newsletter, it's, on the website, Peter Faber. So myName do.com.
Scott - [01:13:11 - 01:13:49]
That's fantastic. So I'll, I'll be sure to include all of those, links, in the show notes so everyone can ask this. And Peter, greatly appreciate, you coming on the show today and sharing the great insights, both from the perspective of you organized being the c e o of a remote company and how you personally do your IRLs and what you're thinking about from your team, but obviously the insights that you've had as a product that offers the same type of service and the things that you've learned to be able to help all the people learning. So thank you so much Chino for joining today and for all those people who are listening, I know until the next episode, no. Wishing everyone a wonderful day.