It was 9.35 AM on a Thursday morning in central London. The receptionist had directed me to go down the stairs, when the sounds of laughter and chatting slowly started to come towards me. Is there a drink going on, I thought? This early in the morning? I walked towards the room I was directed to and realised the sounds were only getting louder. I realised this ‘drink’ was where I was heading to. Except that it wasn’t a drink (that would come later in the day), it was the sound of ~40 data engineers, data scientists and data analysts that had not seen each other for over a year. It was the sound of the first data offsite since the pandemic.
The power of graphs
This graph shows you at once the reason for so much excitement on that initially quiet, Thursday morning in London: this team has grown so much, more than doubled, in the past year. And this was, besides some meetings in smaller teams, the first time that everyone was seeing each other in real-life. The graph also shows you what the past year has all been about for our team: GROWTH. Growth of our team and also of our influence and impact at Gousto.
And this is exactly the topic we spent the morning program on. Oh, and building (paper) straw towers as high as the ceiling (an important element of any offsite I would say). But mainly it was a celebration of our team, how we’ve grown and what we have achieved in particular in the first half of 2021. There was a lot to go through: numerous new data products, new data models and new insights. It is truly amazing to see and hear how we have made an impact all across Gousto. A loud applause concluded each presentation, that never sounded the same on a virtual call…
The afternoon on the other hand focussed on the future. With all this growth, there is a lot to think about. What could we improve on as a team? How could we support the business even better using data? ‘Think big!’. By being divided up in mixed teams, we brainstormed on these topics whilst getting to know each other better or catching up in the process.
In addition, there was room as well for education. Two guest speakers joined us in the afternoon to tell us more about their field of expertise. Manish Gajria (Koru Kids) gave us his view on how product (management) and data best work together and provided some useful tips to take back to our day-to-day work. Toni Martinez-Sykora (University of Southampton) presented his research on routing and routing & packaging problems. This provided food for thought and triggered many questions from the audience. And last but not least, possibly my favourite part of the day, our Data Engineering Lead Eoin shared some of the greatest AI use-cases: suggestions made by AI on potential pranks, books and, of course, recipes. Check some out here for a good laugh.
And like any proper data offsite, we ended our day at the local pub. I unfortunately had to leave somewhat early, but when I left I knew, offsites are back and I can’t wait for more!
Tips for your own team’s first offsite after the pandemic
Is your team also getting back together in real-life? We recommend thinking about the following:
- Make sure everyone is comfortable (give the option to attend virtually for those who prefer this)
- Celebrate all we’ve achieved since being apart (we have not been able to share this over the coffee machine)
- Mix up the groups (working remotely often meant seeing only your colleagues you work with directly)
- Use the opportunity for brainstorming (white boards and post-it notes are back!)
- And most importantly, have time for fun together (it’s what we’ve missed most)