It has long been awaited: The Factorial Academy Days 2021. Two days full of workshops and sessions accompanied by a social gathering that took place on September 2nd to 3rd. What happened and how did it actually feel to get the chance meeting some of our colleagues in person for the first time — that is what this article is about.
It’s the year 2021 and the influence of COVID-19 in events and other types of social gatherings is still present. For this reason it is no wonder that we at Factorial were planning this event with a high level of caution, always expecting it to be canceled due to the current restrictions. What we ended up doing was planning a remote-first event. This decision also followed our company value, not disadvantaging our numerous colleagues working full-time remote. However it was possible letting a few colleagues attending in person in our Hamburg office. To make that possible we took high care in terms of keeping distances and assuring hygiene measures. I as one of the in person attendees and want to share my experience.
Due to the fact that the event was split into two days, both had their individual topic. Thursday was all about getting your hands on projects with a workshop while Friday was meant to present several focus topics to extend our knowledge and to make us look over each other’s shoulders.
During the first day we were joined by Michael Schieben and Klaus-Peter Frahm by field.so in order to tackle the challenge of the ‘perfect website’. From my point of view this workshop was not only fun and worked out perfectly well in our remote environment, since even the two workshop hosts only appeared as a small window in our zoom cluster. It also helped us finding a way to connect our units even more. I noticed the amount of collaborative spirit among us and various moments of creativity and joy. I am sure we have all grown throughout this day and have been able to take something away for ourselves and our activities. Not to mention the workshop as the perfect introduction for our newest team members to the team.
The Friday event included a number of sessions about different topics. A few of them had a more general approach and were therefore addressed to the entire team. Here we focused on things like sustainability in web development, diversity at Factorial as well as internal tool presentations and ways to optimize our workflows. In the afternoon other sessions highlighted specific topics from the frontend, backend development and UX. Nevertheless these sessions were made in order to gain insights outside of your individual working field. I was definitely pulled out of my comfort zone, listening to a discussion about automated frontend tests as well as explanations about docker and Kubernetes and a session about HTML.
Both days were accompanied by amazing vegan and veggie food and drinks for us in person attendees.
First social gathering in 2021
One aspect I would like to emphasize is the fact that numerous colleagues started their time at Factorial during the times of COVID-19, including myself. So there hasn’t been much of a social connection to many team members due to the everlasting remote-work. I’m not saying I don’t like working from home — I love it — and so are many of my colleagues, especially those working from Singapore, Brasil or Spain. But getting to know your colleagues in person is something that I have been missing over the months. Especially when personal chats kind of getting in the background when meeting online to discuss something work related.
After all this event gave us the chance to be part of the first 2021 social meet-up, albeit under strict COVID-19 measures. We used the direct and personal contact to meet, get to know and enjoy each others company. In my case I met colleagues I haven’t seen in real life since starting at Factorial. However, this agency is a company with most people working from home — so the focus of this event remained on a virtual level by providing after work offers for the remote colleagues such as a virtual escape rooms.
There is to say, that experiencing the event in the way I did as a in person attendee might differ from how remote colleagues perceived it. For this reason, I reached out to my colleague Michi, to let him speak about his impressions of the Factorial Academy Days.
I am always amazed at how well remote collaboration works in this company. We are used to it because we have many colleagues from all over the world, but I still don't take it for granted. And even at an event like this, I didn't feel like I was sitting alone in front of a computer: I was there! I am very grateful that everyone in the team always tries to make remote work and events like the Factorial Academy Days as smooth and convenient as possible - and especially now in times of Covid-19, when we work even more remotely than usual.
- Michi Großklaus, Lead Developer Frontend
What is there now to say about the Factorial Academy Days 2021 after all of this? Both Michi and I agree on the fact, that Factorial made it possible to connect regardless of place and time, creating a supportive and educational environment for this workshop. We are thankful for our colleagues and the way we work together and it felt damn good to get in touch with so many people once again. All in all, I think I can conclude for Michi and me: We would like to have more of these events.
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