#227 – S.P.A. 16, 2nd Remote Retreat

Friday Ship | Oct. 30, 2020

Parabol SPA 16 Grayson Camper

Last week, Parabol held its 16th quarterly all-team retreat, and our second-ever remote retreat.

We would prefer to get together. When polled, ⅔ of Parabol employees would like us to define and find a safety protocol for resuming our in-person retreats. In support of our own and global health, we held our latest retreat virtually, once again. It remains an open question when we’ll get together as a whole group again.

Improving the remote retreat experience

We applied two strategies to how we conducted our first remote retreat:

  1. Asynchronous work activities even over synchronous work activities
  2. Small group gatherings even over the entire company on one Zoom line

We felt these strategies had served us well and we could lean into applying them even more in order to improve the remote retreat experience this next go around. We still divided the retreat into an async and sync portion, using the asynchronous time to develop the company strategy over a 2-week period. We still spent a week suspending work as usual to get facetime with each other and prioritize working on defining the future. However, this time we also chose to:

  • Take some time off between the async and sync portions of the retreat, and see nature
  • Spend the working portion of our sync time sprinting on fewer items
  • Get familiar with the games we’ll play ahead of time
  • Schedule times to break bread together, during both US and EU-friendly times

Mandatory fun time

Parabol SPA 16 Geocaching Collage

As September and October went by, some of us noticed some of our colleagues beginning to look a little glassy-eyed. Between the async and sync portions of our retreat we gave the company two days off, gifted everybody a new GPS, and encouraged everyone to create an account on geocaching.com to use the GPS to get lost by finding some hidden treasure in the great outdoors

Purple is very sus

Finding something other than work to do together is an important part of building team cohesion. We’re always on the lookout for games that are easy for everybody to pick up and fun to play as a group. This year, we played the sensational multiplayer games Among Us and Killer Queen.

Among Us

Among Us App Cover Screen

Among Us is like the game of Werewolf...but in space. We had a good time using our work laptops to keep a Zoom line open while joining the game on our mobiles.

Killer Queen

Parabol SPA 16 Killer Queen Black

Killer Queen Black is an 8-player team action strategy game, where up to 4 players can play on a team. We created a tournament bracket seeded with teams that sought to average out player skill by asking our teammates to report on a self-assessment of how skillful they are at playing action video games.

Metrics

Parabol Friday Ship 2020 Oct 30 Metrics

Even when we’re out on retret, we don’t stop collecting our metrics. For the past several weeks, top of funnel traffic growth has been strong...except for this week where we gave back a few of our gains. Mid-funnel adoption and product engagement were both up, especially the rate of meetings held each week: This week was nearly as busy as the week that brought our original application infrastructure to its knees during the onset of the COVID pandemic.

This week we…

made excellent progress toward delivering Sprint Poker. We’ve nearly completed work which will allow for Sprint Poker meeting template customization, completed the implementation of the Scoping phase, and made solid progress on the proceedings of the actual “poker” part of the meeting—implementing the playing cards and their animations

Parabol Friday Ship 227 Sprint Poker Templating Demo

published loads of content. A new Enterprise landing page, Sprint Poker early access sign up, a new blog post on the reset grouping feature 🎉, and we published Parabol’s Media Kit to https://parabol.co/media-kit

published all of our user documentation to https://parabol.co/support. Previously, we had built a knowledge base in Notion and published these pages directly to respond to customer inquiries. Publishing these pages on our CRM we hope will help customers get answers to the questions they need

kicked off a process to refresh Parabol’s brand. More on this soon!

Next week we’ll…

start a new employee in the DevOps Architect role.

wrap up Sprint 67.


Have feedback? See something that you like or something you think could be better? Leave a public response here, or write to us.

 

Jordan Husney

Jordan Husney spent 20+ years helping technology serve people. His passion for collaboration, agile development, and remote teams led him to start Parabol, a free online retrospective tool.