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How to keep remote-first first rate: sticking together with colocations

Sergio's team in Seville
We like to tell people (well, anyone within earshot!) how we’ve been remote-first from the very beginning. We’d shout about it from the rooftops if we could, because a) we love it and b) it sets us apart from the crowd.

It’s simple. Freedom to work anywhere means happy people, which makes for better results. It’s why we’ve been voted the #4 best start-up to work for in London by pioneering recruitment platform Tempo. We’re unapologetically transforming the workplace just like we’re creating a huge shake up in the travel-tech industry.

But remote-first doesn’t mean we never meet our colleagues. Far from it. In fact, Sergio Millan, Engineering Manager, dropped by to tell us about his recent get-together with his team, as well as his thoughts on why face-time is as important as ever.

Colocation, colocation, colocation

We call each gathering a colocation because wherever our people are based, we like to give them time together to enjoy a collaborative and team-building session. 

For Sergio, converging his fellow Impalans in Seville was key to cementing workplace relationships and fine-tuning communication skills. 

“The culture at Impala is always one of encouragement when it comes to this kind of thing. We’re really urged to make time for face-to-face get-togethers.”

Of the three people that Sergio looks after, Eleazar didn’t have too far to travel as he’s also based in the city, but Elisabeth flew in from Dusseldorf and Tom came from Amsterdam. 

The team takes to the river to get to know each other
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts  

Determined to show them the best of his city, Sergio organised a two-hour boat trip where all four sailed along the Guadalquivir river, learning about the city’s towering monuments and the historic riverbank from a proper tour guide. 

“It was a couple of hours with drinks and we learned about Seville’s history,” Sergio reports.  

“It was super-cool because we saw the sunset and also ended up having dinner in a fancy restaurant after that,” he adds.

Everyone was in good form, according to Sergio. “It really is just an excuse to get to know one another. We could do the same in a pub and that would be perfectly acceptable but I think it was nice to do something unique. It’s also a way to show people we care about them,”

People power

Sergio admits that running a team remotely brings its own unique set of challenges that have been compounded by the pandemic. Which is why quality face-to-face time with colleagues has kept things sharp. 

“The best thing about working here? Definitely the people and doing things like this make us more effective. I’ve definitely seen boosts in creativity and morale following our outing. And, of course, that has a knock-on effect on mental health.”

Managers are encouraged to organise colocations every quarter, making these an essential part of life at Impala.

“I definitely feel supported by the wider company - the greatest asset we have is our people. It’s my job to make sure people are happy, motivated and doing their best work. Colocations are one of the tools that help me achieve that.”