We knew it was only the beginning of our 4-day offsite when we boarded the train to Brittany. But little did we know it was only the beginning of our foray into strange and delightful vehicles.

Our hotel was on the coastal path, offering a beautiful sea view from the restaurant lounge. It could have been enough—but would it have been worth it had the offsite been too demanding on our team members? At Meili, we believe in prioritizing the well-being of our employees. As a mainly remote company, the offsite is more than a break in our daily routine. It’s also the chance to meet all the team members who could make it in real life. However, we believe it’s our responsibility as a company to provide a safe environment to everyone, especially during offsites. Our core values are carefully reflected each step of the way, structurally and from workshops to team-building activities.

Upholding our values during an offsite

At Meilisearch, we are committed to upholding our values. We are constantly striving to improve on an individual and organizational level. An offsite is a perfect opportunity to educate ourselves collectively on skills that are important to us.

On our second day during this offsite, we attended a workshop about unconscious bias. We believe all companies must be watchful of these stereotypes; they can affect how we recruit, include, and support team members. The practical questions and situations were very relevant to see how quickly we can rely on stereotypes to make decisions and how we could mitigate these effects. Some of the actions are as easy as involving other people! We are more committed than ever to ensuring our decision process involves feedback from team members from different jobs at Meilisearch and different backgrounds.

During this 4-day week, we attended another workshop: the Climate Fresk. The goal was also to identify some actions we could take, individually and as a company in the tech industry. One of the first actions we have to take is to educate ourselves about the fundamental science behind climate change—that workshop was a beginning, and we now have to pursue our efforts, for example, with our servers.

Throughout the offsite, we cater to different preferences and needs. This means being comfortable with a loser schedule and allowing our team members time and space to go at their rhythm. For example, we choose to allow separate rooms for each person. We’ve found it makes a huge difference in our energy level, and our team members get to the end of the offsite with less mental fatigue.

We also give people free time each day to spend as they wish, whether exploring the local area, going to the hotel spa, chatting with people, or simply recharging their batteries.

Picture by Ingrid Hazan

One of our core values is to learn from feedback. The offsite is no exception: we ask questions after each offsite to see what we did well and what to work on for the following offsites. Measuring how we do is our way to ensure that everyone's needs are met. This is a plea to all hotels: we need more veggie and vegan qualitative options during meals!

Supporting a positive and safe team-building

At Meili, we believe in the power of teamwork. Our collaborative approach is at the heart of our company. At the question “What was your favorite thing about the offsite?”, most people say it was chatting with other team members.

This is why we organize low-stakes team-building activities. A loose structure helps people to bond and get to know each other better without taking away the spontaneity of the connection. We want people to have fun without feeling pressured to perform. As such, they can opt out of activities before the offsite.

We asked every team member to write a short anecdote about themselves before the offsite, printed them, and distributed them randomly to other team members. It served as a great ice-breaker and conversation starter on Tuesday evening!

On our first day, we went on a pedestrian treasure hunt in the Corsair city of Saint-Malo. Though we had to rush to make all the spots, it was a great way to explore the city with a squad of people we don’t usually work with. It’s a shame to go to a beautiful place only to spend all our time in a meeting room.

Photo of rocks in the sea, with a tiny island in which there’s a house, surrounded by fortification walls.
Picture by Ingrid Hazan

We had a blast building our cardboard karts on Wednesday afternoon. We had the blueprints, sheets, and cardboard tubes, and there we went! Each team did their best to build, decorate and name their cars. Each kart had its personality and backstory. The presentation speeches were a highlight of our offsite! We had a race to determine which was the fastest kart. I’m afraid I must report we suffered heavy losses and some cars didn’t make it—but they are always in our hearts!

A white kart made all in cardboard on the road in front of trees. The kart sides are decorated with bone shapes.
Picture by Roxane Beaufils

Ultimately, we see ourselves as the vessel for a fantastic team to come together and create something special. Like the cars we build during our offsite activities, we provide the structure and the elements, but our team makes the jazz and soul of Meilisearch. We wish to thank the team of Gloria with whom we worked on the workshops and the team of Kymono Life, with a special thanks to Anaïs who organized the offsite for us.