Behind every unremoting is a person who plans the whole event and in this article we're handing over to Kristine who planned the entire Compose Unremoting in Portland.
By now, you've seen glimpses of the Great Compose Unremoting. Compose is made up of the smartest, most hardworking people I've ever worked with, and a good part of my job is taking care of these people. As such, I had the lucky task of planning this gathering with an ample budget, given that we have never all been in the same location in the history of the company. I got some great ideas from this blog, but we were a bigger group with a different agenda.
The purpose of this gathering was to get everyone in one place for a number of reasons. Many people had never met face-to-face, and communication can struggle at times. We wanted to have time for fun, time for work, as well as some fun activities. Also, in a company full of foodies and beer & coffee connoisseurs, meals and drinks would be highly anticipated.
I had fun tossing around ideas like San Juan, Puerto Rico, as several people wanted a beach location. But we had one employee with a visa situation that made that not an ideal choice. We wanted something fairly reasonably priced to fly to, with good public transit, and with novel things to do. Austin was a thought but too hot in June. I started making plans for Charleston, but ran into housing issues. Portland emerged as a fun option, with lots of coffee and beer to be tasted.
When our employees travel to our San Mateo office, they stay in one of a couple bedrooms we have set up in the office. When they travel for conferences, they're often sharing a hotel room. We decided to splurge on individual rooms for this gathering, which had the added benefit of giving everyone some space after all the quality time together during the days and evenings. Some quick searching led me to the Hotel Rose, and it had a great vibe and amenities, like complimentary bike checkout. The staff were super accommodating as I worked out some little details that you'll see below.
One of my favorite parts of planning was putting together a few items that the hotel had waiting in the guest rooms. I used 4imprint to create some custom embossed Moleskine notebooks, and a friend made some tasty cookies with our logo. One of our Chicago employees has introduced us to Garrett's Popcorn, so I had a small bag included with the welcome gifts. Lastly, Distillery Row was near our hotel, so I included a passport that could be used for tastings, if they chose to visit on their own time.
Not to be forgotten are the amazing significant other's that support the employees of our company. They put up with travel, and lots of hard working hours. I wanted them to know that they were appreciated, so I used a company called Spoil to send them a box curated just for them.
I use Hipmunk for all my flight arranging. I had to make arrangements from 12 different locations, for 18 people. It was easier than it sounds! Having 6 employees flying from San Francisco balanced out the budget with having to buy tickets for employees from South Africa, the UK, and Montreal.
This was one of the only bumps in my planning. AirBnB had some good options, but early plans fell through at the last minute. Accommodating 19 people was a big ask! We eventually found a good option through some local contacts within walking distance.
I may have over-planned for the crew... In the early days of planning, I was only going to schedule 2 things (other than dinner reservations). I found an escape room game that I booked for an afternoon, as well as an Improv for Business session (Patrick was great to work with!) that was a great success. But in the last couple weeks before the gathering, we were all working very hard on some projects and the agenda for the gathering shifted more towards fun and decompressing. Most people wanted to tour breweries or distilleries, so I scheduled a lunch tour of 2 local spots with Brewvana.
Right before they all departed for Portland, I sent a PDF with lots of info and the itinerary, as well as some suggested places that I knew would want to be visited (Powell's Books and Voodoo Donuts, of course!). I also created a Google Calendar specifically for the event that everyone could access.
I was one of the only people who wasn't able to attend (because I'm crewing for my amazing husband in the Race Across America!), and I'm sad to have missed a really great time connecting with my co-workers. But the one "event" that I was most disappointed to miss was the morning Compose 5k where all the runners headed out together. I did my own 5k in Alabama, but I am already looking forward to bringing everyone together again so I can join them for a run (and much more!).
Kristine did a great job organizing the logistics of the Compose Unremoting – it let all of us focus on getting together, working together and being together. Huge Thanks Kristine!
Photo Source: Kyle Foster