Even though we are a fully distributed team, we celebrate curiosity, collaboration, and growth together in-person as much as we can. We’ve maintained a tradition of combining tech conferences with team retreats, and this October we had our second 2022 retreat in Chicago, Illinois collocated with GopherCon 2022. We also attended KubeCon 2022 in Detroit at the end of the month.
Our Approach to Team Retreats
Our goal is to have two team retreats a year whenever possible; ensuring that even though we all work from home, we stay connected and creative. In 2021, our retreats were in St. Mary’s, Maryland and Minneapolis, Minnesota. In 2022, our first retreat was in Salt Lake City, Utah, collocated with PyCon 2022 and a talk on conflict-free replicated data types. Earlier this month we held our second retreat in Chicago, Illinois collocated with GopherCon 2022.
Now that the team has grown from 4 to 11, we want to ensure that the retreats grow both the company and us as individuals. Our idea is that one retreat a year will be “top-down” focusing on business strategy, culture, and technical presentations from the team. The second retreat will be “bottom-up” guided by the team rather than a pre-planned agenda and consisting of creative activities and exploration.
Inspired by Chicago
Our retreat in Chicago was a bottom-up retreat. We stayed in an Airbnb together and enjoyed getting to know each other with team dinner games such as “Two Truths and a Lie”, “Would You Rather”, and “Ask Me Anything”. We held a hackathon where we developed the first publishers to send data through our Ensign streaming platform, and watched as events started propagating in our Grafana dashboard. We also reviewed the competitive landscape (including lessons learned from Liquid Death), presented on technical topics of interest such as WASM and cryptography, and explored publishing an academic research paper together. We were inspired by an architectural river tour through the city, the incredible city vistas from the Skydeck at Willis Tower, and the meaningful conversations we had with each other during the week. In short, we had a fabulous time exploring Chicago.
GopherCon 2022 & KubeCon 2022
After the retreat, we attended GopherCon – the first GopherCon for everyone on the team. Rebecca inspired the audience with her insightful talk called “How to Build A Distributed System (and Should You)?” while the team actively learned from peers by attending a variety of technical sessions. Some of the highlights were Donia Chaiehloudj’s TinyGo talk “Getting the Upper Hen”, Katie Hockman’s talk on “Fuzz Testing Made Easy”, and Patricio Whittingslow’s talk on “Aerospace Go”. We genuinely enjoyed connecting with the GopherCon community in person and look forward to next year’s conference.
Later that month, we continued our conference circuit at KubeCon in Detroit where Rebecca and Patrick gave a talk on our experience with multi-cluster distributed systems and where we caught up with our community of fellow open source contributors. We were encouraged to hear that so much of this year’s KubeCon agenda concerned issues that Rotational is also thinking about – multi-region and multi-cluster deployments, stateful k8s, tools for o11y (observability), and the new eventing landscape.
Geography is essential to Rotational’s distributed platform and so it seems natural that our team enjoys travel, learning about new places, cultures, customs, and foods (Malört, anyone?). The pandemic has constrained us to the continental United States for the first two years of our startup, but we’re certainly looking forward to new horizons and traveling the globe together!
Photo by Cody Engel on Unsplash