Remote Team, Local Meetup: OnTheGoSystems’ Cape Town Get-Together

November 29, 2023

In a world where remote work is our everyday, there’s something extraordinary about meeting face-to-face. This year, our Cape Town crew decided to shrink the virtual gap and step out from behind our screens to share laughter, stories, and the city’s charm, together.

The Journey from Solo to Seven

About a year ago, I, Dean Jones, was the lone South African at the company. Although I always felt at home alongside my cosmopolitan group of colleagues, I always wondered when some fellow South Africans would join the proverbial club.

Fast-forward to today and we have seven (six of which, including myself, are based in Cape Town). 

The Path to Our First Meetup

Since many of the newer South Africans in the company joined at a similar time, we didn’t ever get around to doing a proper meet-up as we needed to allow everyone to find their feet and settle into their roles.

Lauren Chowles and I met in-person (since we’re in the same team) and we had some plans to do so regularly. But, the remote nature of our work took precedence and we decided not to make any ‘official’ schedule for meeting up. 

Given that this was the case and that the other South Africans seemed nicely settled in, I thought November would be a good time for those of us based in Cape Town to meet before the close of the year and December holiday festivities kick off. 

A Morning at The Market

We already had our own private ‘Cape Town group’ on Mattermost (our internal instant-messaging app) which sparked some nice discussions, so it only made sense for us to continue this face-to-face. 

With a bit of basic coordination (through said group), we decided on a time and place: The Oranjezicht City Farm Market at 9:30am on the 18th of November. 

‘Why so early in the morning?’ you may ask. Well, this market is an extremely popular hangout spot for breakfast and lunch in the city, and as the saying goes: the early bird catches the worm. 

It’s cherry season in Cape Town and the market offers some of the best! Photo via the OZCFM Facebook page

Coffee, Conversation, and Community

We all arrived (pretty much) on time and made a mandatory collective coffee run. 

With caffeine in our systems, we were better equipped to make our food selection from the massive range of choices that the market has to offer. We did so just in time to find a table large enough for all of us (including partners and kids).

Left-to-right: Asif, Dean, Lauren and Eloise (with newborn)

It was lovely to be together and I think we felt like a small family straight away. Our connection through the company as well as our country made it feel like we had already known one another for years. 

We don’t all work in the same teams, so our level of interaction at the company varied from person to person. But, when placed at the same table, you could’ve easily mistaken us for a team that’s worked together for years. We found common ground on many different topics outside the sphere of work, which was really nice! From family and travel to hobbies and personal interests, we covered it all.

This goes to show the importance of the occasional in-person meetup. We all enjoy the many benefits of our remote work, but sometimes this makes it easy to forget the value of ‘real’ human connection. This meetup gave us a healthy reminder of that. 

It was awesome to finally meet the rest of you in person, along with the families, and get to know everyone a bit better. It was also my first time at the Oranjezicht Market. Was a great vibe and I couldn’t believe it was past lunch time by the time we left!

Lauren Chowles

The Cherries on Top of Our Meetup

The time flew by and before we knew it we had been there for a good three hours! As we parted ways, everyone took their own final journey through the market to cherry pick (literally) some items for their homes, fridges and pantries. 

I greatly look forward to the next meetup, and I’m sure we won’t wait a whole year before doing it again!

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