Retreat 2023: Wish You Were Here!

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Recently the Order Desk team had a chance to do something we haven’t done in a very long time: a company retreat. In fact it’s been three years since the last time we were able to get together, and the year before that was our first ever retreat.

Obviously we all endured a major global event that impacted just about everything in our daily lives between then and now, which resulted in us foregoing our retreats to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our team, but during this time Order Desk also went through some significant changes. At the time of our last retreat, Order Desk was comprised of 7 people total, with many of us having to take on multiple roles for things like marketing, support, and development. Since then, we have tripled in size, so a bigger company calls for a bigger gathering!

The Destination

This time around we ventured out of the United States and into the beautiful city of Puerto Vallarta, located on the west coast of Mexico.

The cast of the new Friends reboot.

Our first two trips remained within the US, which at the time made more sense as that’s where most of us were located. But now Order Desk is spread across 10 countries, so we wanted to find a location that was conducive to the many nuances of international travel.

Thankfully we were able to find an accommodation that could hold all of us in one place, with stunning views of the coast that included all kinds of sea creatures passing by, like humpback whales, sea turtles, manta rays, and dolphins! We also wanted to be sure that there were plenty of co-working spaces, since even though we were grateful to be in an amazing, exotic location, we were still there to work.

The Work

As a remote company, it’s rare that we get to work together in person, let alone with anyone other than our families and pets. That’s why we go out of our way to plan out these retreats, as we can focus on things we wouldn’t normally get to do during our usual remote work. For example, taking group photos of a company with a team based around the world can be a little difficult when we’re not all in the same room!

It was also extremely valuable for our support team to all be in the same room together—being able to turn to the next person and troubleshoot a difficult issue with them is invaluable.

Throughout the week we held plenty of meetings, both large and small, where we celebrated our wins and individual accomplishments and even planned out our roadmap for the rest of 2023 and beyond. We’ve got a lot of exciting things planned for the future, both internally and externally!

There was also much snacking to be had.

The Fun

It wouldn’t be a proper retreat, or honoring all of our company values, if we didn’t make time for some fun! Of course we spent some time at the beach, and many of us ended up venturing into town to experience the local culture.

Not pictured: a lot of lizards. A lot.

But for our main outings, we all chose between one of three options:

  • An ATV excursion through town and into the mountains, which included a stop at a pond where we could take a dip!
  • A guided food & drink tour through the local hotspots, because what’s a trip to Mexico without enjoying some of the local cuisine?
  • A visit to Choco Museo, which included a course on the early history of cacao (did you know cacao beans used to be traded as currency?) and an opportunity to make our own chocolates!
Everything here is to scale.

Regardless of how each day was spent, most of our days usually ended with a dip in the pool, playing tabletop games, and enjoying some late night talks. You know the type–you’re gathered around the patio table sharing laughs, chatting about life, and sharing stories. There’s just no substitute for those experiences.

Speaking of life, many of us had significant accomplishments in our personal lives in the time since our last retreat (engagements and marriages, new babies, and more!), so we decided to get two Order Desk cakes made (one as a vegan option) with each of the different colors representing different celebrations. It was a celebratory toast for the people we care about!

How many candles do you put on a wedding cake again?

The Future

As you can imagine, planning all this out took a lot of time and a ton of hard work to accomplish, so it may be a little while until we can gather like this again. But it serves as a reminder for us to take advantage of the times we’re able to share together, and how even though it was sad to see everyone go their own separate ways at the airport, a lot of unforgettable memories were made throughout the week that we’ll be able to cherish for a lifetime.

We rented the tallest ladder in Mexico just to get this shot. Never again.

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