David Heinemeier Hansson

May 26, 2023

Recharging trust batteries with meetups in a remote company

Nothing can substitute for spending time together in person as a way to build bonds, create connections, and foster trust with your colleagues. There's just a special kind of magic that comes from being together, which Zoom will never match or catch. But what's enabled the remote-work revolution to be effective is that these moments don't need to happen every day, week, or even month.

At 37signals, we've been doing company-wide meetups twice a year for over fifteen years. Through these meetups, we've secured the lion's share of the social in-person benefits afforded by an office, while allowing nearly eighty people from twenty countries to collaborate happily and effectively. It's remarkable how nourishing it can be simply to see your coworkers every six months, and then rely on those fully-charged trust batteries to carry you through the interim.

Being unable to do this during the pandemic really underscored how critical meetups are to make the whole remote-work arrangement successful. We were deprived meetups for a good two and a half years, and we felt it. But at least we had the recollection of what remote work could be like from the time before the pandemic. Many people got their first experience with remote work during the pandemic, and were deprived of these recharging opportunities, so it's no wonder a fair number of them didn't like it.

But how do you actually pull off a successful meetup for a remote company? That's something we've been trying to perfect at 37signals, and, dare I say it, something we've gotten pretty damn good at over the many years. So we thought we'd share our process.

In this video, Andrea and Bethany will walk you through how they organized our latest company meetup in New Orleans, using Basecamp of course. There are a million details to keep track of, and it can seem pretty daunting at first, but if you have a solid tool to help, it becomes way easier.

However you decide to do it, I can't recommend enough committing to doing meetups as part of the deal for making remote work work. They might seem expensive at first glance, but you're likely to pay far more for neglecting the value of direct, human connection without them.

About David Heinemeier Hansson

Made Basecamp and HEY for the underdogs as co-owner and CTO of 37signals. Created Ruby on Rails. Wrote REWORK, It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work, and REMOTE. Won at Le Mans as a racing driver. Fought the big tech monopolies as an antitrust advocate. Invested in Danish startups.