Some remote companies meet in person quarterly, some meet annually, and some never meet at all. Really, the only factor to consider is culture.
Larger companies have a harder time monitoring culture, so more frequent company meetings (including remote staff) are sometimes necessary.
Smaller companies tend to meet annually or not at all – Either because the company culture is intentionally less focused on in-person meetings, or because budget is an issue.
2x per year rule
Based on the conversations I’ve had with remote business owners, remote teams usually get together about twice per year. This is an average of course, which is usually a function of remote employees vs. in-office employees.
If the numbers are weighted more toward in-office, everyone tends to meet more (2-4x per year). If the ratio is weighted more toward remote workers (or completely remote) everyone meets in person less (0-2x per year).
The other factor is overall company size, smaller companies (1-10 total) met far fewer times per year in person.
I worked at a 9 person company (where I was the only remote employee) and I never met with my boss in person.
Companies in the 15+ total employee range meet much more often, usually at least once per year. As company size is a function of meetings per year, company size can (operative word: can) be a function of company culture.
As companies scale it’s harder to keep culture under control – more in person meetings are a viable solution to this problem.
Why more meetings?
More opportunities to build relationships. There are so many business advantages to remote workers, but some disadvantages are distance and personal contact. It’s one thing to send GIFs back in forth, but meeting your team in person over a brainstorming session and a few beers takes your relationship up a notch.
Why less meetings?
Maybe you have a small company – For example, some companies are fully distributed and have only a few employees. It just might not make any sense to meet in person, if each team member is in another part of the world, and work is going smoothly. If the team scales up though, most companies will set up a team meeting in person.
It’s important to find a happy medium. If you want to scale a company up, in person meetings are going to be necessary.
That said, when you are small, it might not make sense to drag your team of 3, into one place, 2 times per year. If they are invested and happy with their setup, you might not need frequent meetings – but you should certainly ask everyone what they think (maybe they want to meet and you don’t know).
Meeting in person is something to keep in mind as your company scales. Maybe re-evaluate with every 2 or 3 additions to your team.
Two disclaimers I should add:
Don’t let money get in the way. It’s always worth the extra expense to build a great company culture.
Secondly: set expectations. If you don’t meet ever, let people know. If you meet 4 times per year, disclose that information early on.
Sometimes remote workers are working remotely because they can’t leave their town often, for varying reasons. Make sure to communicate your meetup policy early and often. If you are still deciding, communicate that with your team and job candidates as well.