Snapsheet is a remote-first company where top-tier talent is not limited to a specific location.

We celebrate this freedom by organizing an employee summit at our HQ in Chicago, IL, where Snapsters from all over the U.S. are brought together to participate in fun-filled three days of in-person festivities!

These events include thoughtful bonding activities such as morning meditation sessions, improvising movie trailers, playing against our CEO in pop-a-shot, and darts against peers at Flight Club.

Teams also have the freedom to plan their own events and chose to explore some incredible Chicago foodie spots and visit local museums.

We spoke to five Snapsheet software engineers who attended the summit in Chicago, all of whom had joined our team after we transitioned into a fully remote operation, and asked them about their first in-person interactions with their teammates!

The Team We Interviewed

Carrie, Financials team

Kazu, Transactions team

Nicholas, Financials team

Oren, Foundational Services team

Peter, Foundational Services team

Question - How would you describe your overall experience meeting your team and the rest of the company during the summit?

Kazu: "There was a more laid-back interaction style, like the casual banter of walking to and from the meeting room or visiting someone's desk just to chat.

For folks outside my team, I was able to meet not only new people but also see many people I've met through our virtual events like donut pals, game hours, or work meetings and get to know them better."

Nicholas: "It was nice being able to see the executives in a more relaxed manner. I think the Ask Me Anything event with the executives made it more personable. It was easier to crack through the shell of the corporate ladder and see them as the people behind the suit."

Oren: "It was great to meet everyone on the team! It was also cool to meet people not on our team, including our CEO, Brad. That would have been true even if I didn't beat him at table tennis."

Question - How did you feel working with your coworkers in person for the first time after getting used to working remotely?

Kazu: "There was already a strong familiarity with everyone on my team, which I think speaks to the fact that Snapsheet is handling remote culture quite well.

But at the same time, the interactions were enhanced by a more personal feel. I also felt we were more engaged in group discussions since we were all in the same room together. Overall, it felt natural."

Carrie: "When it comes to collaborating, it's like any other workday except you're actually seeing them. You kinda already knew what your coworkers are gonna think about in terms of planning, so it wasn't like meeting a new person.

However, there were certain things I was surprised about. You have a picture of someone and what they'll look like, and meeting them can be different.

For example, a bunch of my teammates were taller than I expected.

That sort of thing is fascinating."

Oren: "I didn't feel too nervous meeting the team in person—and I tend to be a nervous person. That's probably because our manager has created a nice and cordial team culture that's not stress-inducing and also because I'd already gone through a lot with most of my teammates, even if just virtually."

Question - Did you learn anything new about your teammates?

Kazu: "A funny moment I recall was when my teammate’s jaw fell to the floor when I told him I had not grown up in the US and had only come here for university. I also learned that one of my team members had never had a falafel before."

Peter: "I had a sense of my teammates' personalities already. That part didn't really change for me during the summit, although everyone seemed more approachable in person.

I learned more about where everyone was from. We had a lot of conversations about the different cities people lived in and how those cities compared to Chicago."

Oren: “I already picked up on many things about our teammates in meetings before the summit. When the cameras are on, people feel a little more free to joke around and show more of their personality since it's easier for others to pick up on nonverbal cues. If our culture was always cameras off, the summit might have been a bit different.”

Question - Did your connection with your team change after you returned to WFH after the summit? Did you feel more connected?

Carrie: "Not really. The in-person interaction brought us a positive impact to bring us closer together, but we were already connected, so it wasn’t much of a gap.

However, I definitely felt more connected to people I never talked to on a regular basis from other teams that I wouldn’t have otherwise interacted with had it not been for the summit."

Nicholas: "Definitely. 100%. I think just being around somebody physically can only help.

It can't be a negative impact, and I highly doubt it's a neutral impact. When you meet somebody in-person for the first time, it’s meaningful. It matters."

Peter: "Yes, the connection definitely did change. I felt more connected when I was there, and that feeling didn’t go away when I left.

Not even with just the immediate team but with people who I hadn’t known before the summit. I felt like I got to know many people pretty well."

Question - What was your favorite memory with your team during the summit? 

Nicholas: "The architectural boat tour! I live in Chicago and have never been on it; there were a lot of small details about the city I’d never realized.

We also went to the cultural center, which was a grand, quiet walk-through experience. It was calming and thought-provoking!

However, my favorite activity was making a children’s book about Snapsheet. Our terrible drawing skills combined came together in a semi-presentable children’s book. My team won, so there's a huge sense of pride there."

Peter: "Our company improv event was a fond memory.

It was terrifying and awkward, but it was mind-blowing watching another member of the tech team, David, improvise the songs he had to sing"

Kazu: "Going to Flight Club and competing against each other at darts. Just seeing everyone get out of their "professional" selves and get competitive while also not taking themselves too seriously was great.

We were competing and cheering each other on when one person hit a great shot.

I had a really lucky day and ended up being top 5 on the board, and I’m not normally good at darts."

Question - What was your favorite thing about your visit to Chicago?

Nicholas: "The wall of donuts. That thing was totally unexpected. Props to whoever came up with the idea!

It’s either between that or the talk given by our guest speaker, Alpana Singh. She covered so many situations that I experienced myself and completely related to.

She also gave great ways to find a mentor. Her advice was short, sweet, and to the point - she knows what she was talking about. A fantastic guest speaker!"

Carrie: "It was fun to get away and work, and also not work and just connect with everyone in person. We did a lot of walking around and chatting.

I lived in Chicago previously, so this was a little nostalgic. One of my favorite things was going to a super good ramen place with my team. You can't go wrong with Chicago food.

The architectural boat tour was also a nice experience that taught me a lot of things I didn't know about Chicago architecture."

Looking Forward To Future Gatherings

Though remote work has its advantages, nothing compares to gathering our team members together in one place. Our roadshows have taken us to many new cities and let us connect with new Snapsters, and each department has found creative ways to come together in person by hosting their events with great success! We can't wait to see the growth and connection we will experience when we come together again!

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