Late last year, we made the decision to bring the Remote-Learner (R-L) team together for the first time, in Denver, CO (our newly announced headquarters city), for a three-day company-wide meeting kicking off the new year. This January’s gathering provided our team with opportunities to meet and talk about industry trends and experiences, and to learn more about the company’s strategic plans going forward. From management’s formal presentations to break-out sessions led by our staff, I witnessed a great deal collaboration and participation from the team.


As a largely remote company with employees spread throughout the US and Canada, R-L takes advantage of collaboration and knowledge sharing tools to connect and share information. But I have long believed that the best collaboration happens after teams have met in person, shared personal stories and related on a deeper level than what is possible over the wires. There is something very special about looking someone in the eye while shaking their hand, and it creates bonds like nothing else.


I was pleased to witness deep conversations between our teams during breaks, meals, and social events. I recall looking over my shoulder on the first day to see a huddle of employees from support, development, sales, and finance all chatting together about long-standing cross-departmental issues, and coming up with new approaches to solving these challenges. That situation repeated itself over and over, and not just during business hours. Throughout our impromptu, staff-organized pub tour around the city, the rich and valuable conversations continued.


But one of my favorite parts of the meeting, and there were many, was our Charitable Giving Luncheon on the second day. In a company-wide survey conducted last year, we determined that over 80% of our team members donate their time and money to causes that impact their communities. We wanted to recognize and encourage that spirit of giving. At the luncheon, ten different groups and individuals presented their favorite charities, with another 38 charities suggested for participation by the rest of the company. It was great to see staff from all corners of our company get in front of their colleagues and speak about the very personal ways that they connect with their communities.

In the weeks that have followed since the meeting, I have seen a stronger connection with a now-bonded family, a connection I believe will fuel our future innovations and growth. Most importantly, I have seen a greater sense of pride in the company, the work that we do and with each other. I cannot think of a better investment that we could have made for our team to start 2016, and I’m already looking forward to doing it all again next year.