The power of an in-person offsite for distributed teams

The dynamics of distributed teamwork can be complex and difficult to predict. Cross-cultural divides, communication silos, teams split up by location, uneven distribution of leadership, and hub-specific micro-cultures are all challenges that can arise when a company isn’t fully co-located. That’s why for one week each year, the entire distributed Miro team comes together in a single location to work and play together at our annual offsite.

At Miro, we’re a quickly growing start-up, with offices in four locations across thirteen hours of time zones. Each office holds a mix of teams spanning product, operations, design, marketing, sales, and more. That’s why make the strategic choice to invest in an in-person offsite to regroup, recalibrate, get to know each other, and come together as one united company.

While company offsites are resource-rich investments, we believe that a well-designed annual event can be game-changing for company culture, operations, and collaboration. To make the most of our time together, our People team carefully curates an event that combines working sessions, learning and development, department-specific days, and extracurricular activities to get to know each other across contexts as both teammates and people.

Opportunities for cross-functional collaboration

“The offsite was an example that nothing bonds people like teaming up to create something together. They say the only effective method for teams to build trust and cohesion is to do real work. And thanks to our hackathon, I witnessed so many new connections forming. Parties and fun are awesome, that’s for sure, but without real projects to work on together they aren’t enough.”

Ksenia Apolonskaya, Monetization Product Manager

“A very special moment for me was during the hackathon pitches. It was a rare opportunity to connect and share experiences that, although different, are geared towards the same end-goal of making Miro amazing for our users. I got to imagine myself being a part of creating something that might end up in the platform. So many lightbulbs going off!”

Iris Latour, Customer Success Manager

Parties and fun are awesome, that’s for sure, but without real projects to work on together they aren’t enough

Problem solving in new ways

“One challenge with the offsite was actively keeping up with day-to-day work while the activities were ongoing. But what I found with the entire company in one place is that this work could get done in moments of serendipitous run-ins: bumping into people, or catching everyone from different teams for a few minutes in the corridor, in the kitchen, in the conference room, and so on to get things done. It showed me a faster way to problem-solve without formalized the meeting structures we usually rely on to ask cross-functional questions.”

Roman Bulbenko, Head of QA

“As someone in content marketing, to be able to sit in a room with PMs, developers, salespeople, and designers, identify a shared pain point about our workflow, and resolve the communication gap on the spot was pretty dang satisfying –and relieving too. To reaffirm shared experiences with teammates whose job functions are so far from your own is quite validating.”

Anna Savina, Content Marketing Manager

Work could get done in moments of serendipitous run-ins
There’s nothing like mud, running, stinging bees, and collective suffering that brings people together

Practicing teamwork in new environments

“There were +25 of us that volunteered to run an obstacle-laden course. There’s nothing like mud, running, stinging bees, and collective suffering that brings people together. Our crew represented nearly every department in our company and we broke barriers and bonded very quickly. We were all working together to overcome each obstacle — ones by design that you couldn’t conquer on your own.

Without any discussion beforehand, we were all looking out for each other especially during the more challenging parts of the course. If anyone was falling behind, we made sure to stick together. This is what teamwork truly is about and now we have some crazy, fond memories to reminisce about.” Melissa Halim, Enterprise Product Marketing Manager

“Having the opportunity to spend time with coworkers outside of the office over music, drinks, and social activities created space to connect in a more personal way and to understand each other cross-culturally. To have coworkers willing to practice new languages to and move out of their comfort zone to connect made me smile.” – Renny Chan, Head of Acquisition

Experiencing what it means to be Miro

“Our Brand team wanted to curate the entire guest experience to identify with Miro. From arrival at the airport with Miro-branded SIM cards, Miro umbrellas and jackets for the rain, to office decor and landscaping outside (and even branded flash tattoos!) the entirety of the week my team asked: what is Miro as an experience beyond the product itself? This kind of internal branding helps build community and engagement, and builds a group sense of shared values through visual and physical manifestations of what it means to work at Miro.”

Ivan Danyshevsky

Brand Design Manager

Cutting across communication divides

We could relate to each other through meaningful conversation, or simply a hug

“When you are working in a distributed setup, it’s not so easy to express all of your emotions and warm wishes to teammates — instead of emojis and back-and-forth on Slack, we could relate to each other through meaningful conversation, or simply a hug.”

Vlad Zelinskiy, Product Design Lead

“Currently we speak to each other across hubs via Slack and Zoom meetings. We share Miro boards and other documents, but the face-to-face collaboration you just can’t beat. During the offsite I was able to sit with our new Brand Design Lead and within 10 minutes we were going back and forth sharing our ideas and building off of one another — it was electrifying!”

Brittni Cocchiara, Community Marketing Manager

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