Jason Fried

March 26, 2022

Getting together again

We've worked remotely for nearly 20 years, but we've sustained the distance by lining up intense, one-week-together-in-person bursts twice a year.

Over the last 10 years, we've mainly held these bi-annual all-company meetups at our Chicago office. But the combination of the pandemic, and an expiring office lease in July of 2020, conspired to keep us apart for nearly 2.5 years.

With the pandemic fading, mask mandates sunsetting, and travel opening back up, it was time to renew the tradition. So this last week, nearly our whole company got together in Miami for our first meetup in what felt like forever.

With 65 people from 16 countries, Basecamp is now the biggest and broadest we’ve ever been. Understandably not everyone could make it to the meetup for a number of reasons, but nearly 50 did, with the furthest-away flying in from Nairobi.

I'm an introvert and homebody that's hardly comfortable always-on socializing with such a large group for days on end, but I have to tell you, I just loved it.

Remote work remains our preferred method — and we'll continue building our global group remotely — but getting together like this brings crystal to clear: Nothing beats a meal, a smile, a handshake, and a hug in person. When a shared experience is the reason, humans connect better in person than they do over the internet.

And, as it turns out, meeting infrequently makes those actual encounters far more meaningful. We didn't spend the time together, we savored it. Scarcity has its way of making every moment that much more valuable. If we were always together, a meetup or offsite would have felt like more like a forced chore.

Miami was sunny, yes, but the camaraderie and fellowship was even sunnier. There was clearly a warm glow we'd all been missing. And with only one employee local to Miami, everyone else was in from out of town. It cemented the idea of being away, together, which amplified the shared experience.

So, what did we do?

We spent the first half of the first day introducing the more than 30 new people we've hired over the last eight months or so. Then Elaine (COO) took the stage and shared an update on the company itself. How we're growing, where we're going, and what we're focused on organizationally to put all this change to good use.

After that, David and I took the stage to talk product and vision. We shared updates on Basecamp and HEY, discussed launch plans for Basecamp 4 this year, talked about some other news we'll be sharing publicly soon, and riffed on a few more product ideas that we're tossing around in our heads.

Then it was lunch, some personal talks people signed up to give in the afternoon, and then off to the first all-company dinner.

The following days after that were full of planned day trips and activities in and outside of Miami, an in-depth all-company training session that helped us to get to know one another in a novel new way, management and leadership training, small team meals, a heartfelt peer appreciation and recognition session, celebrating work anniversaries for those at 5-year increments (including one at 15 years), and a festive closing dinner with everyone on the last night.

What a week.

It's unusual to be both completely exhausted, but equally energized. But that's how I feel, and I'm hearing it from others too. This was a major reset, a chance to reinforce old relationships, form new connective tissue, and take a healthy hit from the optimism pipe. There were moments of reflection and appreciation, and a celebration of the culmination of new efforts we've been making, together, over the past year.

We were just people from all over, loosely tied through shared work, simply having a great time. But there was something more. Even people who've worked together for 10 years felt like new friends. And those who were brand new fit right in. It was our company, it was our time, and it was just wonderful.

If you've been remote for a while, now's the time — get together again. I really encourage you to draw the line, leap over it, and move on. It'll be the fresh start that everyone's been craving.

About Jason Fried

Hey! I'm Jason, the Co-Founder and CEO at 37signals, makers of Basecamp and HEY. Subscribe below to follow my thinking on business, design, product development, and whatever else is on my mind. Thanks for visiting, thanks for reading.