Meeting your colleagues for the first time is always a nerve-racking experience. We all remember our first day at the office – the trepidation that comes with learning a new role and making a strong first impression with your coworkers. But for remote workers who already know each other, that first face-to-face is a different, and often more rewarding experience.
Last week, most of our Lone Rock Point colleagues were brought together for the first time at WordCamp US San Diego, a conference designed to sharpen our CMS chops with WordPress and get to know some of the thought leaders in the space. Perhaps just as importantly, WordCamp was an opportunity for our team to get to know each other beyond Slack channels and teleconferencing.
While many of us have worked together for years, this was the first time most of the Lone Rock team was brought together under one roof (or next to the pool bar), including new hires that were brought on less than a year ago. Since we already knew each other, one of the perks that comes with working remotely is the ability to hit the ground running when you finally meet in person.
No awkward introductions were necessary.
Part of what made WordCamp so interesting is the diverse skill set possessed by the Lone Rock Point team. We are a mix of project managers, developers and content producers who all approach WordPress from very different perspectives. Luckily, the conference had a bit of everything for all of us.
The massive, retro-style Town and Country Resort made for a unique atmosphere, with the “hallway track” spilling out into the pool and other spots around the resort property for an all-immersive conference/resort experience. Think Brady Bunch meets tech conference.
For our developers, WordCamp was an opportunity to ask thought-provoking questions regarding the latest developments in WordPress. Our team was able to learn about recent efforts to redesign the WhiteHouse.gov website and both contrast and validate their work with a similar project our team is working on with NASA. Additional sessions on block themes and page speed performance helped the team identify potential pain points and better understand what’s to come in the WordPress universe to solve these. The conference provided a “big picture” look on how we can expect WordPress to evolve in the short to medium term.
One of our developers is a seasoned WordCamp veteran, who’s spoken at countless events and attended more than 60 of these conferences since 2009. For him, it was a chance to catch up with old friends for the first time since the pandemic.
That said, this was the first WordCamp attended by our team’s project manager and content producers, who were pleased to find sessions that went beyond web development, including many on accessibility, analytics, content creation and user experience.
The accessibility workshop was a noteworthy session for our group. As we prepare to implement our work in a way that is compliant, it’s eye opening to understand how navigating the web must meet the needs of a variety of users. It sparked conversation on how to find that balance when making tough choices. One choice can lead to an accessible website for some, while not meeting the needs for others.
A user experience session toward the end of the conference sparked even greater conversation on how best to approach onboarding for users accessing new systems, and the need to create a positive first impression during those first 10 minutes. Already our team is working to implement some of these strategies for our clientele.
Overall, the Lone Rock team came in with few expectations, and were embraced by the kind, welcoming and laid-back WordPress community. There were no requirements of suit and ties, just a listening ear and an open mind. Using WordCamp as a team event made it an even more meaningful experience, as we got to solve problems together and get to know each other better over steak and arcade games. Sometimes it’s easier to learn about your colleagues over a game of skee-ball.
At the conclusion of our three days together, there was one takeaway we all shared:
“Let’s do this again soon.”