A Beach-Side Offsite in the Middle of the Third Wave
by Anusha Venkatesh, on 13 February 2022
Believe us when we say we had fun strolling around on the beach, meeting colleagues after two years, and exchanging fun stories. Boy did we miss running into each other in the corridors, being late to meetings, and the sheer ability to quickly call someone aside and have a chat by the watercooler!
We did all this and more at Infrrd’s offsite right in the middle of the third wave of a global pandemic. And no, we did not put ourselves at risk doing it.
We held our first-ever event in the Metaverse. With the help of the platform Gather town, all our teams across the globe were able to work from the same location - The Infrrd Virtual Conference Hall.
About the venue:
We designed a virtual venue for our offsite event. We had a main event hall where all our discussions took place. We had breakout rooms for focus groups to discuss solutions to the roadblocks we have to solve in 2022. We created team rooms where each team can meet and discuss team-specific issues and solutions.
We also had a lounge with a bar and a games table for everyone to hang out during breaks. Best of all, a beach where we let our hair down after work. We had all those discussions that we missed for the past two years and got to know everyone in the company in an interactive, laid-back environment.
Day 1: Mission 2022 & Socializing
The first day of our offsite was exciting. Everyone was thrilled to be a part of the Metaverse and meet colleagues from different continents. We did a quick tour of the venue and our CEO Amit Jnagal started the event off with our mission for 2022. He set the foundation for the discussions that were going to happen over the next 4 days, and after that, we all dispersed to socialize and get to know each other. It was so thrilling to be able to say hi to people in the hallway, to be able to join group conversations and the best part was we could meet our colleague’s pets and say hello to their kids as well.
Day 2: Hiring and Retention
March 2020 set the world off in a new direction. With our physical presence no longer required for work, companies worldwide were left to figure out how to effectively manage their workforce from home. It wasn’t easy because it is what has led to ‘The Great Resignation’. Since April 2021, even giant tech companies have seen a sharp surge in employee turnover. The jury is still out on what exactly are the reasons that triggered this reaction but to list a few:
• Global shift to remote work opened up new opportunities that were previously not available.
• Being locked up at home had us manage everything from cooking to childcare. This meant that perspective towards work and what we want from it shifted drastically.
• There is also a huge shift in the agency. Earlier, big companies paying big paychecks laid the rules. They designed rigid work policies and employees had to follow them but with this new shift in perspective, for the first time employees have the agency. They are choosing important things like work-life balance, the ability to innovate rather than uphold the status quo, and the freedom of flexibility.
• On day 1 of our offsite, we gathered to discuss what Infrrd could do to keep up with the changing expectations of the workforce. Amit is a strong believer in a healthy, sustainable work culture that puts everyone on the path to self-actualization. He broke us off into focus groups to discuss how we can take a step in the right direction to solve the effects of the global reshuffle of talent. He also stressed the importance of having honest conversations that bring out the real problems to light.
• All teams reported on what makes a hiring experience great for a candidate, what more can we offer to make working in the remote world more sustainable, how can we better our policies to suit the needs of the talent, and remove some practices that are no longer relevant in this new world.
Day 3: Product Positioning & Manager Development
This past year, our Intelligent Document Processing platform has caught the attention of analysts at Gartner, Everest, and Quadrant as a leader in the space. We also announced the launch of a new solution Infrrd for Mortgage, specializing in data extraction and intelligence from mortgage documents. With plans to launch new industry-specific solutions and add more unique features to our platform, one of the critical offsite discussions was chalking out our product positioning.
Businesses are still discovering Intelligent Document Processing and what it can do to their data management team’s efficiency. It’s the beginning of a new future and the responsibility of educating our customers about embracing this new technology is on analysts and IDP vendors.
We at Infrrd have a clear vision of how IDP can empower Intelligent Work and in 2022, we have to articulate this vision.
On day 3, we spent discussing and enlisting insights about the future of our product from all our teams. We analyzed what our competition is doing and asked ourselves honest questions about how we can bridge the gap between what exists in the marketplace to what is required and the unique offerings that Infrrd has.
Amit also formed a focus group to specifically discuss another important topic - Manager Development.
With remote work changing the manager-associate dynamics, Amit and our leadership team wanted to empower our managers with the tools needed to build remote teams, work with them, career planning, and mentoring.
This focus group was tasked with finding what are the current problems faced by managers to connect with team members, how can they empower their team members for honest communication, how to build their agile teams while working remotely, and educating managers about burnout, mental health, and productivity of their teams while navigating the current pandemic-ridden world.
Day 4 & 5: Team Alignment and Remote Work
With the pandemic creating distance between everyone and going back to the office seeming like a bad idea, we are faced with a tough problem at Infrrd. Teams that are spread across the world have a hard time communicating.
On days 4 and 5, Amit asked all the teams to identify the challenges with team connect, productivity, work planning, and team development for each team. They were later asked to come up with what the organization can do to help overcome these challenges.
He also asked teams to find a sustainable way of meeting in person periodically on a workation (work + vacation) to be able to ideate and solve team-level problems.
Teams reported back with a SWOT analysis of where their teams are and what they can do in 2022 to function much more efficiently while telecommuting. They also reported the challenges each team faces and how the organization can help overcome them.
Modern problems need modern solutions
2020 and 2021 were spent in the tight grasp of the pandemic. 2022 still poses similar threats but what is different this year is that we can expect the unexpected. This year we embraced the metaverse to make our offsite event more meaningful and discussed how we can make the best of every situation. Be it the still-shifting talent landscape, positioning a futuristic product in a nascent market, or connecting teams across continents, we acknowledged that these new problems need new solutions.
Our team put an honest effort to investigate what we can do better and how we can adapt to changing times. We left feeling like we do have a mountain to climb but together, we can do it!