Like most companies, we look forward to our annual Christmas party for months in advance. It’s a time to bond with teammates, share jokes about the year that’s gone, and celebrate the successes we’ve achieved as a company.
In our case, however, there’s a slight problem: The company is spread over 10,000 kilometres! We’re a fully remote company and our team are based everywhere from Brazil to the Czech Republic. To make things even more complicated, the globe-trotters amongst us often decide to take a vacation in the world’s most exotic locations when Christmas rolls round.
How do we solve this challenge? Well we could bring all the team together in a single spot, like we do for Remote Week and Summer Camp. But those events involve a huge amount of travel and we don’t feel it’s right to ask everyone to trek around the world again, particularly as many people want to be at home with their families.
So, we’ve come up with an alternative: a remote Christmas dinner. It’s a bespoke solution to the challenges we face as a remote company, and we’re more than happy to share our special recipe – in the hope that other remote companies might be inspired.
How Do We Create Our Remote Christmas Dinner?
The idea is simple. We split into groups based on the area we live, and each group holds its own dinner at a particular spot in that area. MJ picks up the tab and partners are very much invited.
If someone lives miles from any other team member, then they can simply have Christmas dinner with their partner. Alternatively, they can hold what we call a ‘real remote’, a dinner held over Google Hangout.
This year, we’ve split into several key groups. Unsurprisingly Barcelona, the spiritual home of Mobile Jazz, hosted the largest gathering, comprising eight team members and partners. Although we closed down our Barcelona office earlier this year, many of our team still live in the city and it remains the nucleus of the company.
But we had much smaller groups in several other cities, too. While each dinner was imbued with the spirit of that particular city, they all shared the warmth, and sense of fun, that typify the Mobile Jazz spirit.
Here’s what went down at each dinner:
With so many people to accommodate (and their partners), it was hard to find a restaurant that suited everyone. But eventually the BCN group decided upon Centfocs, a swanky joint in the heart of town, and it went down a storm. After dinner some folks went on to CocoVail Beer Hall, a craft beer enclave where they enjoyed a last pint while playing Cards Against Humanity.
This year Stefan was in Brazil, having taken the ‘nomad cruise’, a skill-sharing trans-Atlantic workation with hundreds of other digital entrepreneurs. Once there he met up with Luciano, a fellow kite-surfing enthusiast, to catch some waves on the beaches of Jericoacoara, and they took their partners for dinner in a very authentic local restaurant.
Our pair of Balearic Islanders, together with their partners, went to Restaurante Tast in the northern town of Es Marcadal. They report that a great time was had by all, with lots of tapas, wine, desserts and laughter.
The British capital has been an MJ-free zone for years, but Adam recently moved there after being part of the Barcelona crew for years. In early December he got a message from Marc, who was visiting, and they arranged to meet up at an Italian restaurant called Rossopomodoro in the trendy Shoreditch area. They then hopped over to Happiness Forgets, a nearby basement speakeasy, before ending up in Seven Dials in central London along with seven people from Zapier, another remote company, who were having their own Christmas bash!
As the only MJ team member in the Czech Republic, Alex decided to take his wife out for their very own Christmas dinner at Borgo Agnese, one of the best restaurants in the southern city of Brno. They decided on the tasting menu, and Alex tells us the food was so luxurious that it reminded him of Julia Roberts in the film Pretty Woman – neither of them knew what to eat!
Although other MJ-ers have lived in southern Spain in the past, Monti is now the only one – so this year he took his wife and daughter to a Thai restaurant called Dao’s Bar in the town of Fuengirola. It was their first visit and they say they’re definitely going to go back – a pretty good recommendation really.
Originally from Spain, Borja has settled in Croatia with his wife and this year they went for Christmas dinner in Kastav, a small town 5 minutes from their house. The event was livened up by a local band singing their lungs out!
Like Borja, Rubén has left Spain for a new life, but this year he has returned from Prague to his home city of Vigo, to visit his family and catch up with childhood friends. One of those friends, who’s known Rubén for 30 years and is also a developer, got a lucky invite to Christmas dinner, giving them the chance to catch up after years apart – while sharing sushi and some lovely Galician wine.
This year’s ‘most beautiful location’ award goes to our full-stack engineer Asier, who is currently living in Thailand. Asier invited his companion Cris to spend their dinner at La Fourchette, a French restaurant in the centre of Chiang Mai. Asier reports that the restaurant’s chef sported a quintessentially French moustache (complete with spiral twirls), providing a touch of Gallic charm after a hectic day visiting the local temples.
This year Tea, who was in her home city of Belgrade, hooked up with Laura, in Valencia. They’ve worked together for years and are firm friends, so the party went with a swing – despite the small matter of 2,300 km between them!
No matter where we’ve spent our Christmas dinner, the key takeaway is that we’re connected as a team. We may be separated by oceans and continents, but we’re part of one big family and share some amazing moments together.
On that note, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a festive 2019!