Can you relate? I sure can.
Although Formstack is a hybrid company that leans into the digital-first model of work, I still understand the value of in-person human interaction. As do other ‘Stackers across the globe.
We’ve been remote for more than a decade, which has shaped our culture and enabled us to hire talent in many different cities and countries. Having a widely distributed workforce—60% of our employees are entirely remote—means we don’t get to see each other in person very often.
During a normal year, we unite together in January at Converge, our annual all-team retreat. This has been a Formstack staple since 2013! We also come together with our direct teams for Small Hands, our annual departmental retreat.
But as you know, this year (and last) have not been normal years. The last time ‘Stackers united together in person was January 2020. This has broken many ‘Stackers hearts since we look forward to Converge and Small Hands every year.
That’s why we all practically screamed with excitement (some danced like Abby at the right) when our leadership team announced the return of Small Hands this fall. After going through so much together (good and bad) across the past two years, we were all incredibly pumped to see our teammates outside of a box and in real life.
So where did Small Hands take our teams? What did they get out of their first in-person event in two years? Let’s take a whirlwind trip though Formstack’s 2021 Small Hands!
Customer Experience Visits Kansas City
The real Formstack MVPs, our customer support and success teams, hit up Kansas City, Missouri for their Small Hands trip. When they weren’t focused on strategy sessions, future planning, and helping customers, they were out enjoying the most unique mix of activities.
Teams enjoyed activities like escape rooms, Top Golf, and brewery tours, but they also partook in some that were a bit more uncommon. One group headed out to explore an old haunted building while others went to a “Rage Room” to have fun smashing items to let go of stress.
Ricky Perez, Support Manager, shared the picture below with this message: “One of my favorite pictures from our trip was with the amazing Formstack Support and Professional Services team. We took this right after smashing a bunch of things. It was so good to see this group of amazing humans, who work so hard, let their hair down and break a few things.” Ricky is third from the left in the back holding a crowbar (I think?) above his head.
Sue-Lynn Withrow, Scrum Master, thoroughly enjoyed the Rage Room. She’s the second from right holding the hammer. This was her first Small Hands, and when asked about her experience, she said, “This was the first time I had met many of my co-workers in real life after over a year and a half of working for Formstack. It was so nice to be able to bond, chat, and laugh with each other. This was a much needed break from sitting in front of the screen all day and helped put personalities to the faces on Slack.”
Where’s Walter? Formstack’s honorary mascot is named Walter. He’s a real donkey who lives in the UK. Employees receive a stuffed Walter during onboarding to take on adventures. Can you spot him throughout this post?
Finance Celebrates in Denver
The finance team had a great time exploring Denver, Colorado during their Small Hands retreat. They enjoyed a dinner murder mystery party–costumes included! They also got the choice to visit the local botanical garden or aquarium. A big highlight was hitting up the Red Rocks Amphitheater for a bluegrass concert, which was the first concert in nearly two years for many.
As team member Christina Price reflected on her Small Hands experience, she had this to share:
“The smartest companies with remoties know that relationships grow stronger with an occasional human touch. And that’s what Formstack’s Small Hands and Converge do.
It’s not just getting together in an exciting city and talking about how we can make the finance/accounting team stronger or what we as a department want to prioritize in the upcoming months to help the company succeed. It’s about making it easier to reach out to someone on Slack after you’ve shared a cup of coffee. It feels normal to treat your senior VP as a peer after you’ve spent happy hour with them.
We all want Formstack to succeed, but maybe more importantly, we want our colleagues to succeed. Formstack’s Small Hands meet-ups foster those relationships, which connect us and make us realize we belong, and that’s a smart thing for any company – any online community – to want.”
Product & Engineering Take in the Lights of Chicago
‘Stackers from our Product and Engineering team had an amazing time in Chicago, Illinois. Both these teams have done a lot of growing over the past two years, so for many it was their first time meeting teammates in person.
From a team bonding exercise around showing gratitude to enjoying a city cruise, this group enjoyed the perfect mix of team building, strategizing, and fun. Days were split between planning for the future and enjoying touristy activities, while the nights included lots of board games and connecting on a personal level.
Who knew Walter could steer a ship? Here he is sitting in the captain’s seat on the Odyssey during a Lake Michigan boat tour.
Derek Provance, a Sr. Software Engineer who just celebrated his one year stackiversary, had this to say about his first Small Hands experience, “It was a wonderful experience meeting the co-workers I've worked with for the past year in person. It added a depth to the relationship I had with them that has benefited every aspect on my team, from collaboration to the happy hours we enjoy.”
Sales & Partnerships Catches Some Rays in St. Lucia
The sales and partner team were able to relax and catch up at Club Med in St. Lucia, Florida. This adventurous group enjoyed activities like jet skiing, pickleball, kayaking, and a sunset river cruise. They also participated in a vision board exercise to map out Formstack, team, and personal goals.
Shakil Kamran, Salesforce Growth Manager, started just one week before he jetted off to Florida for the Sales and Partnerships Small Hands. Yet even as a brand spanking new employee, he felt like one of the team.
He shared his thoughts by saying, “Over the course of the week, as I got to know more about my team and met others in our company, it was clear that I’m surrounded by some of the most talented, influential, intellectual, hard working and most importantly, empathetic human beings I’ve met in a long time. It sounds cliché, but I’m being very honest.”
Marketing Enjoys the Beauty of French Lick
The Marketing team took a serene trip out to French Lick, Indiana. Marketers enjoyed a Shark Tank style pitch fest, gave out awards, and spent time reflecting on a year full of product releases, practically genius stories, and no-code content.
One of the best parts of Marketing Small Hands was splitting into teams to run an Amazing Race style scavenger hunt through the historic French Lick Resort. There were lots of laughs, stories, and conversations shared as groups headed out to either a winery, horseback riding, golfing, or zip lining.
There was a common thread throughout the trip, starting with the bus ride from Indy to the big bowling and pizza party at the close: culture. As Alana Galardo, Director of Demand Generation stated, “The culture here is unmatched. The people are incredible. The leadership team is next-level talented. There is a reason this company is consistently on the best places to work in Indy and beyond. I am so honored to be a stacker!”
HR Unites in Indianapolis
Our HR and People Ops teams gathered together near Formstack’s headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana to build relationships, bond, and plan for the future. As a group that oversees the experiences of nearly 250 employees, they have a lot to plan for!
When not working on 2022 plans, this team was enjoying ax throwing, family dinners, and a spa night. They also enjoyed a murder mystery dinner as well as a painting lesson by our SVP of HR, Miranda Nicholson.
Arin Lancaster, Executive Assistant and Culture Champion, always enjoys Small Hands and sees its impact well beyond the week of the trip. “Small Hands is THE BEST time with my team every year. In person, face-to-face interaction is great while we’re together, and it even spills over and makes our Zoom and Slack team times better thereafter. So grateful for a company that recognizes the impact and makes it possible year after year.”
That’s a wrap!
Culture has always been a big reason why ‘Stackers come to work for Formstack. It’s also a big reason why they stay. Small Hands is just one part of Formstack’s culture that ensures we put people first. “Relationships matter” is a Formstack culture value for a reason!
Interested in joining the Formstack team and experiencing Small Hands for yourself? View all of our open postions here.