All work, all play, the Giant Mansions

Oct 24, 2023

Being a 100% remote company for eight years and counting now, we’ve managed to pick up employees across the world. Situated in North America, South America, all across Europe, and even as far as South Korea! (Hey, Antonia 👋)

Not to be confused with our yearly onsites where the whole company gets together (previous locations including our own private island in Croatia, an eco-retreat in the mountains surrounding Barcelona, and most recently, a whole village in the South of France), the Giant Mansion focuses on our different teams getting together to focus on big rocks that they want to tackle and spend some time working face to face. We’re strong advocates of 100% remote work, but sometimes we like to hang out with each other too. So in total, twice a year, our employees get together, both in their teams and then together as the whole company.

Last year for our Giant Mansion concept, we had one location in Mallorca — a villa with a pool, tennis court, beach volleyball and football court, and it even came with two Vespas! Each team got to reserve a week, and some would stay on at the start or end of their trip to see people from other teams. This year, we left it up to the teams to decide where they wanted to go.

How we came to the idea

As for the original idea to spend three months in Mallorca last year, let's hear from the person responsible for much of the planning and execution, our Operations Manager, Thea:

“We came up with the idea because we wanted to give teams the opportunity to meet in person. We believe that working and living together helps you to better understand how your teammates ‘think’, which is more about how they structure their work and handle their daily routine.”

This year, we took a slightly different approach, as Thea explains:

“We changed it slightly this year because we wanted everyone to get the full ‘how to organize experience’ and a little budget challenge, plus we figured that it was not easy to find a slot within a three-month timespan for every team — this way teams don't have to find a free slot in the villa and in their calendar.”

How we executed it

We try to foster a culture of self-management and self-organization as much as possible here, thus, each team was given a budget per person. There were a few guidelines such as must have good internet, but other than that we left it up to the teams to decide their approach. For example, in my team, we held a meeting where everyone pitched their idea for a location with a sample Airbnb. Thea’s Portuguese beachside villa narrowly beat out my Italian rural mansion! (╯‵□′)╯︵┻━┻

After this, it was as simple as booking flights, finding a few activities, and deciding who was bringing a speaker.

But where did the other teams choose to go? Well, check out this map which resident graphic magician Marat made for us, and see if you notice anything…


8 out of our 14 teams chose Portugal! 

What did people think?

“Pizza, a swimming pool, summer sunshine and a great villa in Rome was hard work... Good thing we had a few breaks to work a bit.”


Xavier Avrillier

“The Grand Mansion served as the ideal setting for our in-person team reunion, allowing us to seamlessly blend relaxation by the beach with productive strategy sessions.”

Heather Clancy

What we learned

The original Giant Mansion approach worked really well, but we wanted to try something different this year. Upon reflection, it’s easy to see the pros and cons of both options. The centralized option in Mallorca had the benefits of centralized planning — it was easy to create documentation on how to get to the villa, handover schedules, and finding the best pizza place. Also, getting to see members outside of your team was a nice bonus. One downside would be that all of our teams aren’t exactly the same size, so when there was a big crossover, camping was involved. Luckily, we’re a very outdoorsy company, and each time we had members who actually preferred this…

Whereas the variety of options brought about by this year's approach meant that each team got a more bespoke and personalized week. Some teams preferred a countryside setting whereas others needed to be nearer to the beach. There was also the opportunity for members from different teams to travel to the villas of others if they were nearby either for some cross-team work or just a little vacation. 

What we hope for the future

In the end, whether it's beachside villas, countryside hideaways, or the occasional unplanned camping adventure, our Giant Mansion concept has taught us one thing — work may bring us together, but it's the offbeat moments, impromptu beer pong tournaments, and the occasional Vespa rides in Mallorca that truly bond us. So here's to many more adventures, tiny and Giant, virtual and remote. Até breve!

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