Every March all of us get together for around one week, for what we call the Spring Team Camp. For the last year, we gathered in Langkawi to also celebrate our 10th year anniversary.

Spring 2018 is here

This year our team camp was held in Jeju island. I have read articles on how Jeju is trying to attract digital nomads from around the world like this and this so we decided to see for ourselves what the island had to offer.

Jeju is a beautiful island, getting 15 million tourists to visit it every year. Hillside view of Jeju

We made J-Space, a free co-working space and incubator supported by the Korean government and Kakao Corp as our base. We stayed at KAL Hotel Jeju which is around 10 minutes of walking distance from J-Space. KAL Hotel is a pretty fancy hotel, with a swimming pool, big hot-bath and sauna; If you don't need such a fancy place, you can get better deals at other places with fewer bells and whistles.

Day 1

Day 1 started with me sharing with the team our customer satisfaction survey results. The session allowed the team to discuss items of interest pointed out by our customers, and how we can roll out improvements to our product based on this feedback.

Day 1 continued with separate sessions by the marketing team, dev-ops team and also sessions by design and the FE teams.

We also had Shaurya, Akira and Geraldo to talk about their experiences during PyCon PH 2018 and OSC 2018.

To wrap up the day, everyone shared their "How-Do-You-Work", such as their best time and best environment for them to work, or how to keep themselves motivated. These are things which we usually find difficult to share during our normal working sessions.

We went out together for a team dinner in one of the local restaurants, to get a taste of some local Korean food.

Xoxzo people in Jeju

Day 2

For the second day, we had the first half of the day for work, and took the second half to explore the island together.

In the morning, we had two sessions: The first one was from me on the results of our business in 2017, and what we needed to do for 2018. The next session after that was from engineering: A learning session on one of the key components of our architecture.

After lunch, we rented a small bus and went to pick oranges from a nearby farm. Excursion in Jeju: Picking oranges

After the orange farm, we went to explore Jeju's famous underground lava tubes, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Excursion in Jeju: Lava tubes

Day 3

Like always, the last session of the camp was going through our retrospectives. These are some of the points that we discussed and wrapped up:

  • If your tasks are piling up, raise your hands and say something
  • Team camps are to build trust, with your colleague and the company
  • Try to speak up when you feel depressed. Having trust makes it easier to do
  • This team camp, the main aim is not really looking at problems. To know where we are, know each other more
  • We need to think more about diversity.
  • Globalization
  • Interesting to know cultural differences.
  • Improving communication
  • It would be nice to have more time to speak more freely online.
  • As expected team camps are supposed for face-to-face discussion instead of working on tasks via the screen
  • If you feel something is going crazy, push back and discuss again.
  • Burnout is a real issue.

Wrapping up

Three days of working together were pretty short, but we managed to get an understanding that we normally wouldn't get working remotely on normal days.

Xoxzo People at KAL Hotel

Team camps should be focusing on the free exchange of ideas and experience, which is one of the most difficult things to do when we're working facing the screen. This is what we need to focus on for our team camps in the future.

Until next year!

Iqbal Abdullah

CEO

Iqbal came to Japan in 1997, and graduated from the Engineering faculty of Saga University. After working through companies like Yahoo! Japan and Amazon, Iqbal founded MARIMORE Inc. in 2007 which was the previous version of Xoxzo Inc.