2020 - the one with the Virtual Seminar

27 Aug 2020 5 min read
Written by the XWiki HR Team

As a remote-friendly company, we have employees in many countries, not to mention two offices - one in Paris, France and the other one in Iași, Romania. Collaborating online has been the norm for our team since our beginnings, yet we do enjoy getting together to celebrate achievements, work together to create new features, or to catch up with what everyone's been up to. Our yearly seminar was exactly that: a full-team week-long retreat for us to be XWikiers together. 

We've been doing so for the past 12 years, and having the seminar is a constant in our modus operandi. We even start planning it a year before. When COVID-19 started to unfold, one of the first questions on our chats was: What about the seminar? Like most companies, we've put our team's safety above anything else, so when it became clear it won't be safe to have the physical seminar, we looked for solutions. Just like many events in the past few months, we chose to organize it virtually. And lived to tell you about it (it's worth mentioning that we did have a split seminar, between our two offices, in 2016, yet splitting to 40 monitors across the world is a very different experience).

What stayed the same

Timeframe - we chose to stick with the same timeframe we agreed upon last year, the week of 3 to 7th of August.

Attendance - all 40 XWikiers attended this year's seminar, with some going as far as recording their presentations before, to make sure there won't be any connectivity problems.

Swag - every year we create a new logo for the seminar and surround ourselves with it. This year was no exception and with a lot of preventive measures, we had it on our t-shirts that were delivered to each XWikier before the seminar. 

Our objectives

1. to give a global view of the company and each team/squad;

2. improve processes and innovate;

3. encourage direct interaction with people you usually don't work with;

4. have fun together.


What changed

The agenda - if we usually had a 9 to 5 schedule of talks, statuses, and live brainstormings, this year we opted for a more dynamic agenda: 4 hours for the operational sessions, and the afternoons for squad managed brainstormings, 1-on-1s, and even punctual hackathons. We also had a day-long hackathon that has offered the opportunity to focus on new features and solutions to some bugging processes. 

Coffee/tea breaks - unlike the years before, we had to make the beverages ourselves, but at least we had goodies to go with it, courtesy of our lovely HR team. 

Relaxing team activities - we ended the seminar with a couple of online games, trying out two escape games split into 4 teams of 6 persons and trying out Scribble, showing off our talents in drawing and guessing. 

Some relationships with neighbors - just like in any other case involving Murphy's Law, some of our colleagues had neighbors drilling common walls exactly when they were scheduled to talk.

All in all, it was a good experience and it helped us tackle a lot of the unaddressed uncertainties. We surely missed face-to-face interactions and long evenings together, but we did enjoy discovering new ways of having fun together. Hopefully, next year we will be able to have our "regular" seminar and resume rehearsals in order to form a band.

See you at our next seminar?

If you want to be part of our team and enjoy the next seminar, have a look at our job positions! Although we are currently not actively recruiting, do send us your CV if you're interested in a position and we are going to contact you when there will be a proper job opening for you!

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