Ad Hoc Retreat III

Last week, in Washington, D.C., Ad Hoc held our third Retreat — a periodic gathering of all team members in the same place so we can learn from each other, have fun together, and build our shared culture. Since we’re a remote-first company, Retreat is an important part of our culture.

Here’s a recap:

We started off the week with lots of co-working. As a remote-first company, we use any reason possible to squeeze in IRL time, so arriving in DC prior to the Wednesday night start was a great way to do that.

A focal point of our together time was WeWork White House. We have a small coworking space for our DC-based team there on the 8th floor, against the north wall. If you are ever nearby, stop by and say hello. Lunch is usually a walk to the food trucks on 12th. We also visited client sites and got as much out of the time together as possible.

People working at the WeWork office

On Wednesday afternoon, our Vets.gov team took a tour of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, led by our colleagues on the U.S. Digital Service at VA team.

Vets dot gov team photo

As the rest of our team arrived, we took in a Nats win at Nationals Ballpark. We started with an event at the Home Plate Tailgate, then took our seats down the first base line, also known as the finish line of the Presidents Race. We were thrilled that Number 16, Abraham Lincoln, won the race. The Nats won too, 2 - 1.

Baseball game

Thursday, we kicked things off with program recaps, leadership updates and a great team building exercise from Mystery League.

mystery league challenge

Our afternoon was packed with planning sessions for each of our major programs, including the HealthCare.gov, Quality Payment Program Front-end, Cohorts, and Vets.gov teams. The QPP and Cohorts team walked over to the National Portrait Gallery for their chats, and the Vets.gov team got together with the U.S. Digital Service at VA team team at WeWork.

Program planning sessions

We ended the day with dinner at Hill Country Barbecue Market along with live band karaoke. For two hours, we sang dozens of songs onstage with the backing of a live band. Even brand-new teammates felt comfortable enough joining in singing, and we ended with an all-team rendition of “Hey, Jude”.

Karaoke and Barbecue

Friday, we got back together to talk about improvements in the works for our new infrastructure teams, and met in breakout groups according to role. This way, engineers, product managers, operations people, and design & user research professionals were able to talk about our shared work across all programs. This marked the kickoff of our Practice Area approach, and each team talked about a general philosophy for each practice area as a way of creating our culture.

infrastructure team improvements

Next, we covered subjects including performance management for team members, and the improvements we’re planning for the public components of our hiring process (website, recruiting apps, homework, and more).

Performance management sesesion

Our Diversity Tiger Team met face-to-face for the first time and discussed how we can improve our commitment to diversity for both current and future team members at Ad Hoc. The team brainstormed improvements to our employee retention and inclusion practices. During the meeting they crafted a list of initiatives focused on improving the onboarding experience for new hires. Because we’re a remote-first team, we know we must be intentional about welcoming new employees and inviting them to contribute to our community from day one.

Diversity Tiger team

In the afternoon, we conducted an unconference, where team members proposed and lead sessions. Homeworks, or challenges that are a part of our hiring process, were a big topic— we had sessions on grading the responses, adding more design homeworks, and improving the overall process.

Homework Screenshot

Team members led sessions on how to work remotely, forging teams, and content for our website. We also had technical sessions on modern JavaScript with React, DevOps, and new languages.

By late afternoon, we took a final team pic and hustled via various conveyances home. Next time, you should join us.

Closing remarks

Keep reading

  1. Laura Ellena’s #remotelife at Ad Hoc

    April 20, 2017