Two weeks ago, Ad Hoc held its fourth all-company retreat in beautiful Leesburg, Virginia. As with past company retreats, this get together was a chance for all of us to make deeper connections between team members and the work we do.
How we got here
First up, co-founders Greg Gershman and Paul Smith kicked off our time together with a brief recap of the events that led to founding Ad Hoc, and the work that followed to bring us to the present.
Our company values
Building on this introduction — a discussion of our company values. We’ll have more to share on this a separate blog post, but these are something our founders feel strongly about, and are something deeply ingrained in the work we do on a day-to-day basis.
New Ad Hoc socks (Ad Socks?) stickers, pins and notebooks were enjoyed by all. In addition, we made sure that all new team members who joined since our last retreat got the standard issue Ad Hoc t-shirt and hoodie.
A little bit of history
After spending most of the morning indoors, we broke into teams for a little bit of fun roaming around the hotel and the grounds outside by way of a history scavenger hunt. We received strange looks as we worked to find clues in all manner of ways from hotel staff hidden in various locales. Several miles were covered, clues retrieved, and sadly, my team did not win. We did spend time in real life with our teammates and learn a few historical facts about the area, so, in that way, we were all winners.
After a full morning as a large group, we broke into smaller unconference session groups for the afternoon. Topics covered included animation in web development, an accessibility boogaloo, and a discussion on the importance of taking breaks as part of remote work.
To start off our second day together, we broke into sessions divided by practice area: engineering, design and UX research, operations, and delivery. The goal of this time was to figure out what our practice area principles are. Disclaimer: our design and research team had an unfair head start on this, as we thought about these at our recent UX offsite in Portland. There’s plenty of work for us to do to refine all of these various principles, but we’re excited to refine and share them in the next few months. Our hope is that these will provide a yardstick to measure our work internally, and also communicate to the wider world how and why we work the way we do.
Diversity team breakouts
After lunch, our diversity tiger team organized several sessions aimed at improving our efforts with diversity and inclusion at Ad Hoc. I attended one of these sessions, where we discussed how we can better use our website and, specifically, our blog, as a platform to reflect more voices and perspectives at Ad Hoc.
After some quick closing thoughts, and a shoutout to our awesome operations team for making this retreat happen, it was time to say goodbye. Some folks on our Vets.gov team stayed on for some in person meetings with our partners at the VA, but for the rest of us, it was back to our homes and back to work.