This past week was spent with my fellow Akismet team members in Lihue, Hawaii. Since we are a distributed company at Automattic, these meetups are an important part of forming a bond with colleagues and being productive. I feel refreshed and rejuvenated from the sometimes lonely days working from home. This meetup was a great way to get to know my new coworkers — I can now put personalities and voices with those little avatars I chat with online every day.
A lot of the time was spent working on special projects we decided on specifically for this week together. But when your work environment includes patios behind your villa in 70-degree weather and sea breezes, it’s hard to complain. We split into small sub-teams to work on projects. My project was working to redesign the Akismet stats and configuration pages.
When we weren’t working we were hanging out and getting to know each other, as well as doing a few planned activities. Activities included cookouts by the pool, photo walks around various places in the area, local shopping and dining, and an awesome ATV tour through muddy back roads. This was not a slow-moving tour through flat roads as I expected. It was full speed along bumpy, windy, muddy trails. By the end of the 4-hour adventure the entire group was covered in mud. It was fantastic.
The weather was overcast most of the week with an exception of one or two days (one being the day we left of course). The travel to and from was brutal, especially for someone who has a hard time getting any real sleep on an airplane. Fifteen hours in airplanes and running through airports is not my idea of fun. The end destination, both going and coming home, kept me somewhat sane.
Overall it was a pretty successful meetup in terms of work and play balance. I learned that everyone is really smart and fun to be around, and being that far from my family takes its toll on me.