It was the start of 2023 when we, the Zypsy team made our way to Lisbon, Portugal, a city of vibrant culture, sardine feasts, and enough vinho verde to make you forget all your worries.
You see, at Zypsy, we’ve always been ahead of the curve when it comes to work. From the get-go, we’ve embraced a virtual fully remote experience, connecting with top talents from every corner of the globe to work with some of the most interesting startups. But with this freedom came a challenge - how to maintain a tight-knit company culture while dispersed across the world?
Regular Zoom meetings, virtual parties, and occasional face-to-face gatherings kept the team feeling connected, but there's nothing like putting the whole gang in one place for a weekend of pure, unadulterated bonding. That's where this retreat came in.
On January 2023, over 32 team members from 13 countries descended upon Lisbon for three days of connection and camaraderie. Some were reuniting with familiar faces, others meeting for the first time.
The first day was spent settling in. Co-founders Kaz and Evin rolled out the welcome mat for the team at a breathtaking retreat house overlooking the city of Lisbon. The retreat started off with introductions to Zypsy’s history, current and future plans and emphasized the team’s core values: Shared Success, Creative Excellence, Empathy, Ownership & Transparency, and Work from Anywhere.
With the introductions out of the way, Kaz and Evin encouraged everyone to use the next few days to form new connections, make friends, and, above all, enjoy ourselves. Moving on, we made our way to Restaurant Lisboa é Linda where we were greeted with local delicacies such as Confited Cod and Partridge. With the social mood in full swing, we continued the night with a trip to The Insólito, a bar and restaurant, where the team got to unwind over drinks and cozy conversations.
Day 2 was a mix of professional and personal. Still buzzing from the lively atmosphere of the previous evening, we found ourselves at the lush and idyllic Guerra Junqueiro Garden for updated headshots and team photos. And for lunch, we feasted on a smorgasbord of culinary delights at the renowned Time Out Market.
Post-lunch, the team was given a break from the dreaded mandatory team-building exercises, and instead were free to experience Lisbon as we pleased. Some took in the city’s iconic sights, others hit the shops shopping, and a few opted to kick back at the retreat house and relax.
After a long day of sightseeing and relaxing, the team hit the seas in style. We hopped on a boat cruise and set out into the Atlantic. Under the cover of the lights of Lisbon’s residents and the rhythmic sound of waves lapping on the side of the boat, we conversed amongst ourselves on topics big and small, plotting to take the world by storm.
Before we know it, day 3 rolled around, and with it the sense that the retreat was coming to an end. It was clear however that something had shifted during the past few days. No matter how closely we worked together as a team, physical distance kept us apart. Bonded now by the shared experiences, our alignment in our goals and solidarity with one another has never been stronger.
We started to say our goodbyes, all the while doling out uncertain promises to visit. But in the back of our minds, we silently started counting down the days that we’d do this once again.
This is just the beginning. The first of many annual retreats to come. Because at Zypsy, we believe that the key to a strong company culture is about connectedness. Ultimately, that's what a company retreat should be about — the spark of genuine human connection, the moments of breakthrough and shared experience. And sometimes, you've got to go beyond Zoom call screens, to really make a connection that lasts.