Life at Language I/O: Building Team Synergy with a Meetup in the Mountains

Ask the average person what they know about Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and they might be able to tell you that it’s home to two national parks. Perhaps they’ve even traveled there during winter months to stay at one of the many ski resorts and take to the slopes. Those who haven’t been to the area still may know it as the home of a group of survivors in the widely popular post-apocalyptic video game series The Last of Us, or maybe they caught wind of a livestream of the town of Jackson’s main street that went viral in 2016.

Ask a Language I/O team member about Jackson Hole, however, and you’ll get a different answer.

Every year, our team members pack a suitcase full of outdoor clothing and sturdy shoes and travel to Jackson Hole for a company retreat. In 2021, there were 16 team members who attended the retreat, but this year, a whopping 50 Language I/O employees arrived at Snow King Resort in the town of Jackson, ready for three days of adventure and team building.

We love being a fully remote company; it gives our team members the flexibility to accomplish their work while also traveling the world, spending time with their families and loved ones, and maintaining an overall healthy work-life balance. But though we’re masters of communicating via Slack and getting things done over video calls, we recognize that providing the opportunity for our team members to meet in person is an invaluable experience that ultimately strengthens our synergy, productivity, and workplace happiness.

“It was amazing to meet my coworkers in person. I got the opportunity to know the sales team better who I work with daily if not weekly. But I also got the opportunity to meet coworkers who work in different fields at LIO. These coworkers are people that I rarely interact with or met for the first time in Jackson. This has already affected my working relationships for the better. I feel much more connected with the sales team on a personal and professional level. I also built friendships with people who I don’t work directly with, and we now make it a point to stay connected.” – Megan Clark, Jr. Sales Associate

We kicked things off on Sunday, July 17th with a cocktail reception and dinner at Snow King, allowing everyone to properly introduce themselves to each other and get acquainted. The next morning, we got together for a series of presentations led by the executive team, where we shared the progress we’ve made over the year so far, as well as what heights Language I/O will be soaring to in the latter half of 2022 and beginning of 2023.

“The group presentation was very powerful in the sense that it specifically highlighted the contributions of each department. There were many overlapping goals and accomplishments which truly emphasizes the spectacular team that makes LIO what it is.” – Dan Reicher, Help Desk Technician

“It was good to hear from each head of a different aspect of the business, and how the objectives directly tied to the company’s overall goals. Hearing the bigger objectives made me realize how much my smaller objectives relate to the bigger picture.” – Ian Olsson, Account Executive

Then, we shut our laptops, set our email auto responders, and soaked in the sunshine of Jackson—and trust us, at over 6,200 feet high, there is no shortage of sun to go around.

Over the course of the retreat, our team members participated in a plethora of different activities, including hiking in a national forest, whitewater rafting on Snake River, golfing, fly fishing, spotting wildlife in Grand Teton National Park, horseback riding, and more. Each activity allowed the team to learn about and get to know each other in a completely new way, leading to a renewed sense of purpose and togetherness.

“White water rafting was amazing. I was lucky enough to get the boat with most of the sales team and it was a physical analogy of how we work together in the corporate environment.” – Judith Soloduk, Enterprise Account Executive

While horseback riding up a mountain or paddling on rough waters aren’t exactly the typical day-to-day activities of a software startup, everyone on the team highly valued the opportunity to have some fun with their coworkers, and even feel like these in-person experiences are already having a positive impact on communication now that we’re back in our respective home offices across the world.

“It was simply AMAZING to meet my coworkers in person and have some fun outdoors! It was especially nice to meet and connect with coworkers from different departments that I don’t work directly with day to day.” – Meg Fahey, CFO

“It was great to meet everyone in person. Coming back, it feels refreshing to know we are all  human, all out for the same goal, and ready to succeed.” – Gene Fayer, Director of Digital Marketing

“It was great, I felt we needed it and it was 200% worth it. It will improve the virtual interactions—it already has, actually.” – Diego Bartolome, CTO

As a fully remote company, we’re able to hire the best talent regardless of zip code, country, or even continent. But while we’re able to meet and exceed organizational goals over video meetings and Slack, these virtual means of communication are made better by interfacing with coworkers in person, be it over drinks at the Cowboy Bar or on a river rafting trip. That’s why making the trip to Jackson Hole each year is a critical part of Language I/O’s company culture, and a tradition we intend to continue as we grow.