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In-Person Connection Is the Heartbeat of Your Remote Company

by Justin Law, co-founder and CTO of Flexspace

As a fully remote team at Flexspace, we practice what we like to call the “All-Hands Workweek.” It’s a week where the full team gets together to collaborate, work in small in-person teams, and have fun together. We just had our most recent all-hands workweek in Southeast Asia and hosted one in San Francisco earlier this year. It’s not some big retreat or offsite necessarily, it’s simply time for our people to be together, reconnect, and move the company forward.

While we’re fully in support of remote work and remote companies, we also acknowledge the importance of in-person time. That in-person connection sends a pulse of energy, information, motivation, and collaboration throughout your teams that fuel them until it’s time for the next get together. It’s a lot like a heartbeat, which, when healthy, is what enables our bodies to thrive until the next heartbeat.

For remote and hybrid teams, thinking about in-person moments as your company’s heartbeat can put the remote vs. in-person decisions into perspective to not only help make decisions about your team’s in-person connection needs, but to also get your team thinking about collaboration in the same way. Here’s how.

Find Your Pulse

The Electrocardiogram (ECG) is the heartbeat visualization most of us are familiar with. It starts with a flat line, then there’s a spike followed by another relatively flat line before the next spike. No, I’m not a doctor and there is certainly a lot more to an ECG than I’m going to discuss here, but for our purposes, this spike is the main part of the “beat” which is ultimately bringing new blood and oxygen to the entire body while also returning blood to the lungs to be re-oxygenated.

For remote companies, our in-person connections are that spike. It’s a time when we connect about strategic initiatives, dismantle roadblocks, brainstorm, work synchronously, and strengthen cultural ties. We are spreading “oxygen” throughout our team and revitalizing other areas that need it.

And the same way one heartbeat sustains the body until the next one, a productive in-person moment fuels a team until another is needed. It’s a cycle that, when healthy, keeps information flowing, motivation high, and connections strong during periods of remote work in between “heartbeats.”

Optimize Your Heart Rate

If we take this analogy a step further, we can start to see more parallels that can help us think strategically about in-person time and how it impacts our employees and our company. Heartbeats change constantly and they vary between people. It all comes down to each of our needs at any given moment.

If we’re running, our heart receives signals that the body needs more oxygen faster and speeds up. When we sleep or are relaxed, it slows down. Similarly, when our companies are gearing up for a big launch we may require more in-person time. When we’re in a less busy time, we may require fewer in-person meetings. Faster and slower heartbeats.

And different people have different needs too. That one friend of yours that regularly runs marathons? Her heart operates at different rates than yours. The same goes for different people or teams within a company. While a creative marketing team may need to connect often for brainstorms or planning, an engineering team may require less in-person time as they focus on individual coding that’s best done solo.

We’re all navigating new and changing work environments that require new ways of thinking. For me, having a purpose and reason behind flexible work decisions is key to ensure my team is on board and so that my business can thrive. Thinking about the cadence and importance of in-person connection as a healthy heartbeat is a way to visualize and assess your team’s needs and to get everyone thinking about their own in-person needs in the same way. A few key takeaways to remember:

  1. In-person time for remote companies is like a heartbeat: it fuels the team during remote periods.
  1. Different teams require different amounts of in-person time to thrive: find that healthy heartbeat for your company or team.
  1. Get everyone thinking about in-person time the same way so employees can make better decisions together about when to proactively get together.

Ready to start organizing your all-hands workweek? Sign up for Flexspace!