Has your team gotten together for an offsite or retreat since the pandemic began?

Since MMG has been fully remote since 2012, we have relied heavily on regular in-person Team Sprints. During the second week of December, we managed to bring the team together—right before the Omicron variant hit the United States—for our first Team Sprint in two years.

I joined MMG as Director of Business Development the week before the Sprint, so it was my first experience with the team. I have a couple reasons for being really pleased to be writing this post.

First, I was so impressed by this group of human beings. But more importantly, some of my takeaways from the Sprint speak directly to challenges the mission-driven organizations we serve wrestle with every day. Over the next few weeks, I’ll share my three biggest takeaways from our Team Sprint. I hope you find them useful.

My most obvious takeaway from the Sprint was that it felt so good to be sharing space with the team. After nearly a decade as a fully remote company, MMG has solid systems for running the business without a central office. Even so, the pandemic has stressed MMG’s systems and people in novel, unexpected ways.

The virtual world simply cannot replicate the power
of body language, eye contact, and reacting without lag.

MMG’s people were used to working from home, but we were NOT used to everybody ELSE in our houses staying home. We were used to not having an office but were not used to the coffee shop being closed. We were used to spending a lot of time in Zoom rooms, but not so much time in them.

While MMG’s business was in a strong position to weather the pandemic, human beings need connection and community. The virtual world simply cannot replicate the power of body language, eye contact, and reacting without lag. And while those things are insignificant in isolation, there’s an emergent quality to those little things that results in nourishing connection, a sum that far exceeds the individual components.

That feeling of connection is valuable in and of itself, but as you likely know, it is all too easy to lose that feeling of cohesion as soon as the team leaves the safe zone and re-enters the real world. The real trick is recognizing that creating an environment conducive to connection allows for deeper, necessary work to happen, the heavy lifting an organization must do to get (and stay) healthy.

The next post will get into what that heavy lifting looked like at the Sprint.