I often see week long company retreats in far away lands listed as a positive/selling point on many company recruiting pages.
For many in their 20s, or single, it probably sounds great.
But there is definitely an unspoken pressure element to the whole thing for a certain class of individual.
Maybe I'm the only one, but I imagine if you have a family these retreats can actually be a negative. Perhaps they aren't mandatory, but surely it's not wise politically to miss them.
I feel like those with families might not want to spend a week away from the family in <insert-far-away-land>. For a variety of reasons.
Maybe some companies do a better job of catering for everyone/thinking about this. Perhaps it's not a problem.
But it just seems to me like at least some of them are another one of those "keep the company young" ageism tactics - whether on purpose or not.
So we recognize this fact and try to mitigate it in a few ways:
- We structure the offsite week so that Mon - Thu is meetings and Fri is a fun day. This means attendees can leave on Thu night or Fri morning if they'd rather re-join their families sooner.
- We actively encourage our team to prioritize their families above their work and make it clear that attendance is preferred but optional. One of our colleagues just had a baby 2 weeks ago and no one would expect him to attend.
- We do what we can to make our meetups remote-friendly. If someone can join remotely, we use a Meeting Owl to give them a better remote experience. It's not perfect, nor is it Cisco Telepresence, but it seems a lot better than everyone present jumping on a Zoom.
- We try to work around colleagues when possible. We recently held the meet up in my home town when my wife was in her third trimester and really needed me home!
For the rest of the year, we enjoy the benefits of being remote, among which flexibility is ranked high.
Amazon reviews  gives good understanding of how the product works in combination with their demo video .
Will he actively be told not to attend? Often this sort of thing is implied to be mandatory.
It would also be perfectly clear from context (and probably overt comments as well) that attending is not only not expected but would be looked down upon.
Of course, the counterpoint here is that people still need to add value and get things done. So we also very much celebrate shipping and moving the ball forward each week.
I've now got a 7 year old and twin 2 year olds. They're a handful and a half, even on a good day. They're my family, much as I like most of them my coworkers are not. My wife really struggles with the kids at times and we don't have much of a support network to lean on. She called me just yesterday from the other side of town because one of the two year olds was refusing to get into his car seat. I ended up driving there to help her.
I basically turn down anything that requires an overnight stay now. I get away with it but it definitely trades on what political capital I have.
This is something I have come to really despise about working in tech. It doesn't matter if it's office beers, or the board games group, or retreats, etc... It's something that I feel is almost inappropriate in regards to my personal time which is fleeting the older I get.
> "keep the company young" ageism tactics
Anecdotally, I've found it's less ageism and more building a "club" of who's in/out. If you're someone who wants to keep colleagues at arms length (ie: strictly business) it turns into a huge problem, and it will definitely come up in your 1-on-1's.
It plays out like this: "We're noticing you're missing team events - why is that? Is everything alright? We'd like people to be team players!"
To which I always want to respond: "Well Bob, at the end of the day we're all replaceable to those up the chain and I know it's 100% in my worst interest to blend my personal life and my work life. I don't want to drink with you, I don't want to share my personal opinions, and I am not here to 'make friends'. I want to keep work at work, and home at home."
I would never say the above because that's grounds for an instant conflict, ie: "I'm not here for the koolaid, I'm here for the paycheck". Best way I've found to address it is to outright lie and say you suffer from social anxiety.
Business travel is both a personal preference and part of the bigger career direction tradeoffs that must be weighed when choosing an employer.
"I have a family" isn't something to hide behind when your job includes a small amount of travel. It's something that can be accommodated and planned for.
If I need to stay late a few hours after work than normal, it requires immediate triage. If my wife has a busier than normal week, it may mean I go in later to the office or come home earlier, at a minimum we will lose sleep that week on meal prep etc.
She did a retreat while breastfeeding and it require her to come home each night so our son could eat. She went on a work trip and I flew out with her and the baby and took 2 vacation days (still breast feeding)
Tbh, a non-local retreat i.e. more than an hour drive, and either of us would skip it.
Its just not a nessisary business practice and IMO is agist.
Its hard having a family and having two working parents. Offsites make it harder.
If you are going to organize one, you should understand that while they have real value, they also have a real cost for participants and their time should be treated like gold.
Overall, I'm not sure if you are organizing it, but if you are, you should be very sure that all those offsites are not too taxing on your team. I'd personally be very frustrated, and I know coworkers at other publicly traded companies I have worked for complain about offsites, but not to their managers.
i.e. you think they are helpful but secretly your team or coworkers are very unhappy.
The biggest issue is that it often is a week if pointless koolaid drinking, with a huge carbon footprint at that.
I can't imagine doing something similar for work. Are they paying you all the time you are away (after all, you are basically "at work" the whole 24 hours).
It just seems another way to squeeze more house out of people.
That's the normal life for a lot of people who attend conferences etc. If that's not for you, that's fine. Just don't take that sort of job.
--> Many of them have fun elements to it to relax the attendees and give them a break. Infact, breaking the regular 'work more' pattern is the key aspect.
--> Any trip is always hectic - whether work or personal. If you can get more done during a 3 days trip which will help you to spend more time with the family once you are back, it is better in some way. Right :)
Now that I have a family, the prospect would be a big fat "No" for me, unless we're all encouraged to bring our families.
My SO's employer went to Mallorca to party for a week when the company was smaller (200ppl?). I like our approach much more.
In our case, there are team members who can't attend the retreat and we are fine with it. There is no evaluation/judgment happening. But we encourage them to be there to learn and understand faster
There is no obligation (ethically, or legally) for companies to accommodate everyone.
Certain groups, yes. But not everyone.
Vote with your feet.
"Shut up or leave if you don't like it" is a very bad form of argument imho.
My fellow attendees at these events are in their 30s through 50s (and for all I know, some might be in their 60s or 20s).
I don’t see ageist discrimination around business trips to be honest. If business travel isn’t for you for whatever reason, there are an enormous number of jobs that don’t require or even offer business travel.
For distributed work, I actually think it's really important to budget and plan for F2F events. Again, if you prefer more of a 9-5 5 days limited travel job, maybe don't do that.
If you know ageism is rampant. Perhaps take this into consideration before selecting the tech industry?
There are other industries which are more family friendly. They might not pay as much, but that's the trade-off. You can't have both.
It's not like doing retreats or other things people with families don't like is what causes it to pay more.
The goals were team building (esp. with folks you don't see every day) and company alignment. As we got larger, it was harder and harder to get to know everyone; however, the first couple of years, you came back knowing just about everyone in the company. This was great and helped interacting with people over chat and in meetings. As we continued to get larger, you just couldn't meet everyone, but you could strategically find folks from teams you work with from other locations. Getting aligned on the company direction for the upcoming year always stayed really solid. The trips were more and more jam-packed with meetings each year. Whole day meetings are hard, but it was nice to unwind with coworkers for a few hours each night.
While this did lead to a significantly increased esprit de corps at the office, the risks are such that I wouldn't necessarily recommend it.
edit: Remember companies, always make sure there's insurance covering the event and activities.
On an offsite for a startup, we went canoeing on a river. That can be really dangerous. My canoe flipped and sank. So I stupidly dived down to retrieve it and succeeded in putting my life at risk. You can get trapped under water in a river quite easily. I did but I was strong enough to get myself untrapped. I'd rather just program, thank you.
I have trouble imagining the sort of canoeing I'd expect to see as part of a company outing being some life-threatening activity.
(That said, I'd probably avoid this sort of thing if I were organizing a company event. People have different ranges/types of activities they like and feel comfortable with and I wouldn't want to put pressure on people for what's ultimately supposed to be a fun event. I know whenever we've discussed doing anything along these lines as part of an offsite whatever ideas we come up with always get some percentive of strong "hell nos." Doesn't see worth the trouble.)
This would be a big no for me.
Sounds great in theory, but what do you do when someone starts sharing sexist or biased opinions. Or starts to personally degrade another employee or team?
For a responsible company, there are always repercussions, it is disingenuous to lead employees to believe otherwise.
We live in a world of freedom, but that doesn't mean you can abuse someone. It is the same in offsite too. You have safety, but not to be a jerk
> Want to be part of our Insent family?
Also -> https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:Y6Au8W...
So, if there are hackathons (or whatever you call it) where they build something that is not their regular stuff, they will get recharged.
About startup being a family -->
I'm sure I can find 100 articles talking about why startups == family. All of us have different opinions on pretty much everything.
When I call my company as a family, I agree that we don't live upto ALL the values of a family. However, I want my team to feel that they are safe and each of us is looking out for the rest. It tells them that we are a people-first company.
Times change - if you feel safe in an org, you'd want to hang out, open up and share. The sad thing is - most of the orgs won't give us that environment.
This is my humble attempt to build an org where I love to work and share
=> A company retreat is a better way to connect with your colleagues outside your official environment which helps your teammates to express themselves which helps the whole team, which is what you call as a company to prepare for the next small/big changes the company would be planning ahead.
=> It creates that bonding within your team and changes the perspective towards their project/work on a positive note.
=> For eg, if you are changing your strategy or developing a new product/idea, (works very well for ideation I hop), a company retreat would be really useful to make sure that all are on board and aligned towards the goal.
=> It improves the morale, better bonding, communication skills and especially the considerations & cooperations.
=> Letting your ego's go would be a nice way to plan it out. Collective decisions and plan it out :)
There is no scenario where a work event of any kind is not work.
I run this small company and I take a lot of effort to find the right budget to give a good experience for my team. If I give a bad experience during the 3-4 days, then why would they come back recharged to the office?
Organizing a retreat takes significant time and money from the company. If someone is using that just to force a few team members to work unpaid, they really don't see the bigger picture. Get out of the place asap :)
We have folks in 5 different time zones and once a year the team meets for a week-long offsite. Agenda is managed and executed by an external agency. Includes work as usual + lunch & learns + collaborative dinner experiences.
In addition to our employees, key partners, consultants also participate.
Zooming out is super critical, whether in startup or life
An startup office mayn't be able to address that challenges, retreats would be a way to address, while building the team comradeship building saying we all in this together, let's get our personal growth story aligned to comapny goals, let's hit them both would set a tone for company culture. If retreats well thoughts and used as a immersive exercise can pay itself forward in a lot of good ways.
There are ofcourse pros and cons of doing anything, time would be essence. Got to see if pros outweighs cons in a long run and make a go at it.
Startups need to stop pretending their employees are “friends” or “family”.
They are disposable cogs that will be replaced the very same day if they happened to pass away, for example.
I’ve never seen one of these be done where it wasn’t a) a party or b) eye rolling corporate propaganda.
In my case, I saw my engineering manager inhale co2 cartridges...
-> Startups need to stop pretending their employees are “friends” or “family”.
Startups can strive hard to build a company that looks out for the person on their left and right. Yes, it won't be perfect. Yes, it will get difficult when it grows. But those are not good enough reasons not to try.
--> Disposable cogs
All of us don't see it that way. We have to part ways with our team members, but the key is to do it gracefully, in a humane way. Here is a video that I recorded about it -> https://www.linkedin.com/posts/rarjunpillai_founderhabits-te...
In US, coz of the fear of getting sued, companies are forced to blindfold, inhumanely fire people and get them out of the office in 5 mins. Around the world, companies don't fire team members like in US. There are enough places where there are conversations, notice period, performance improvement plans and then letting go.
-> I’ve never seen one of these be done where it wasn’t a) a party or b) eye rolling corporate propaganda.
You have been to only 1 or 2 types of retreats. Our retreat didn't have a party. I have attended over 10, none of them had 'parties'. Did we have a good time? yes. But not the dance floor parties with all sorts of stuff inside you.
Give it a chance that there could be a good side of it :)