Team Tarides Visits a 17th Century Chateau

by Isabella Leandersson on Jun 23rd, 2022

Everyone at Tarides recently had the opportunity to meet up in person for the first time! Since the global pandemic left much of our distributed team unable to meet, we organised a working retreat that brought all our teams together to work, learn, and have fun.

This was the first formal retreat we’ve held as a company, and our goals were to provide an opportunity to disconnect from day-to-day work, meet with new people, and discuss new projects - all in a novel environment surrounded by fresh air and open space. During the course of the pandemic, Tarides grew from 36 to 71 people based in 11+ countries, with few of them ever having met in person. As soon as it was safe to do so, we knew that gathering together would give us an invaluable experience in building and reinforcing our own company culture.

This May, all members of Tarides were invited to a beautiful 17th century chateau at Les Prés D’Ecoublay, surrounded by fields, orchards, and lush green forests. Attendees participated in exciting workshops, team-building activities, tech-talks, and inspiring discussions. Over the course of two days, everyone had plenty of time to collaborate, socialise, and eat fantastic food!

What We Got Up To

The fun began at 9am on Thursday, May 19th, when Tarides’s distributed global team gathered to make their way to what was to be their castle for the next two days. Greeted by a feast of French pastries and fresh fruit, introductions were made between people from Australia, France, India, Germany, the USA, the UK, and many more countries.

Tech Talks & Tutorials

Over the next couple of days, the itinerary left plenty of space for knowledge sharing via tutorials and ‘tech talks’ or presentations. KC Sivaramakrishnan gave everyone a sneak peak of OCaml 5 with a detailed tutorial. The tutorial is openly available on GitHub. Please give us feedback if you try it!

Engineers Sonja Heinze and Jan Midtgaard held presentations (so-called ‘tech talks’) in the main hall for everyone’s benefit. Sonja’s talk was on the benefits of Outreachy, an open-source internship coordinator that creates opportunities for those most affected by underrepresentation or discrimination. Jan introduced everyone to property-based testing, a fascinating way to test the ‘correctness’ of code. The goal of the 'tech talks' is to provide a safe space for people to share their work with others, where everyone is welcome to ask questions and discuss the topics covered.

Cross-Team Collaboration

There were also plenty of opportunities for teams to meet and work together, with individual meeting rooms readily at hand. The coffee machines (and accompanying sweets) in each room significantly boosted the productivity of all teams! Teamwork was not limited to individual groups, but time was made for cross-team brainstorming and collaboration.

All of the teams at Tarides are working towards the big OCaml 5.0 release scheduled for later this year, and we took the opportunity to use this release as a focal point to align our goals for the next few months. Each team spent some time together to conceptualise their team-specific goals first, and then the Team Leads followed up with an "office hours" drop in session to discuss cross-project interaction and ideas. Creating dedicated space to think beyond the usual daily tasks and projects proved to be really valuable, producing insights and connections that may have otherwise been missed.

Fun & Games!

It wouldn’t be a working retreat without opportunities for relaxation and fun! We got competitive in a treasure hunt that had us searching the forest and tall grasses for clues. There was plenty of time to explore the vast castle grounds, which included a pool, archery arena, ping pong table, karaoke pavilion, and much more.

Until Next Time

The off-site was a huge success! As a distributed team, it’s important to occasionally get together and put a face to a name (or Slack and GitHub handle!). Everyone at Tarides looks forward to the next off-site, wherever it may take place.