How we planned our Norwegian team offsite as a remote startup”

Readwise, the startup that makes both my snippet-remembering and RSS-reading apps of choice, took itself to Norway for an offsite at the Juvet Landskapshotell.

From the section How much do we spend on offsites:

Candidly, we hesitated to write this retrospective because we feared it might give the false impression that we’re somehow living too large. The truth is that Readwise is a bootstrapped company that has never raised venture capital and therefore runs extremely lean. In fact, my cofounder and I worked on Readwise for three years before we paid ourselves a single dollar.

The reality is that two fun offsites per year costs us less than half of what we’d spend colocating year round in an office meaning we still save money relative to a traditional company.

In a former life, I worked in commercial real estate private equity investing exclusively in office buildings. As a result, the rules of thumb for how much money a typical company spends on office space (including extras like internet, furniture, and coffee) are etched into my brain. In a coastal city such as San Francisco or New York, the annual cost might start at $20,000 per employee before you layer in big tech extravagances such as catered lunches and stocked refrigerators.

Meanwhile, we spent a shade more than $4,000 per person on the Norway offsite, which is actually higher than average because it was set in Europe. In the Americas, we typically budget more like $3,000 to $3,500 per person. This results in approximately $7,500 per employee per year in offsite expenditures, or less than half what we’d be spending on an office in a tech hub.

Ultimately, however, it’s not about cost. Readwise as a company — that is to say, the team — simply wouldn’t exist as it does today without offsites.

Inasmuch as I’m a paying customer, I helped to cover the cost, and so I appreciate the report, and endorse the strategy.

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