4 Ways Distributed Teams Meet in Person

4 Ways Distributed Teams Meet in Person

Meeting your distributed teammates in person for the first time can be a heady experience. I worked for FlexJobs for three years before I ever met my boss.

While we had a fantastic working relationship during those first years, it was a beneficial experience to finally meet in person, and I’ve really enjoyed meeting many of my remote colleagues in person over the last several years.

So how can remote teams conduct in-person meetings in a way that works best for the company’s needs and the staffers’?

We’ve gathered insight from over 95 remote companies and teams to see how they meet in person. It turns out, distributed teams tend to conduct in-person gatherings in four main ways.

1. Big, Annual Meetings

The most common meeting style for distributed teams is an annual, “all-hands” meeting, where team members from every remote location come together for a few days of in-person meetings, activities, and bonding.

“Every fall, we gather for our annual “All Hands” meet-up with our entire team. We started doing these meetups in 2013, and they have become essential to our growth as a team. For some employees, All Hands is the only time they’ll ever meet certain team members in person, so we try to encourage new conversations and interaction between departments. It’s a good mix of company-related collaboration and fun activities—we’ve done scavenger hunts, bowling nights, and improv comedy, to name a few.” — Formstack

“We hold an annual meeting once a year somewhere in the world where we all meet in person. For us, this is a nice opportunity to connect personally and form bonds that make work more fun and collaborative. Building quality relationships in real-life makes a huge difference and positively influences our teamwork throughout the year.” — OnTheGoSystems

2. Individual Team Meetings Throughout the Year

The next most popular in-person meeting option for distributed teams is smaller, team-based meetings. These seem to happen more frequently throughout the year. They give individual teams a chance to socialize and also get to know new teammates quickly.

“Various teams within the company meet in person at different times throughout the year. We’ve found this to be vital especially as we’ve grown. You can get a long way with just online communication, but if you can build quality relationships in real-life between the people at your company, then that makes a huge difference when they disperse and go back to being distributed.” — GitHub

“At any point across the year there will be teams attending ‘sprints’ in locations across the globe.  Sprints provide an architect for groups to come together for training, working sessions and valuable team social time.” — Canonical

3. Regional Staff Meet-Ups

Location also plays a role in when and how distributed teams come together. Regardless of job function or team designation, remote companies encourage team members who live geographically close to one another to get together for informal activities like lunch or working together in a coworking space.

“We encourage regular regional meet-ups. For instance, everyone from the North Texas region will get together for a day, or everyone in the Los Angeles area will meet up.” — Goodway Group

“It is informal and unscheduled, but sometimes employees living near each other will get together for a lunch or dinner.” — DataStax

4. Small, Informal Get-Togethers

Finally, remote companies use informal meetings between individuals and teams. These are typically organized between the staffers themselves, rather than being organized by managers or company leaders. According to several companies we’ve interviewed, these tend to happen more by coincidence (a team member is vacationing in another team member’s locale) than by plan.

“We have a very active community that organizes events all around the world on an almost daily basis. Many of our team members travel a lot as well and are constantly taking trips together, visiting each other, going to conferences together, etc.” — Toptal

“We have many small localised and more informal meetups (perhaps 2 or 3 people travelling to meet up), which happen quite often, perhaps even every couple of weeks.” — Hanno


By Brie Weiler Reynolds | May 13, 2016 | Categories: Remote Management


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