We organised our first online team building event. 2020 taught us a lot, especially how much we need to constantly adapt.
Boost week is a tradition at BIM&CO. Every year, the team unites for the purposes of team building. It’s a week that is something between a kick-off and a hackathon, but it’s mostly a good occasion to recharge your batteries for the coming year.
Here are the steps we followed and what we learned about holding a successful online event.
#1 Look at what’s going on around you
We were fortunate to have Harper Casimiro‘s advice. She sent us an article she had published on the subject and spent an hour with us sharing her experience. She had organised a similar event in the third quarter of 2020. Thanks again for your valuable advice, Harper. We believe that sharing knowledge inside the tech industry and the bridges that we thus build in our ecosystem are an invaluable resource.
#2 Set expectations with managers
The themes for the hackathon weren’t chosen at random. The purpose of this exercise was to help us launch and accelerate flagship projects for Q1 and Q2. The various activities enabled us to diversify the means of engaging.
#3 Plan, plan, plan
It might seem logical, but when it comes to remote team building, you need to plan even more extensively. Success depends on what happens before the event.
- For each block of the event, start by asking yourself what this activity will bring to the team, or each employee. If it doesn’t add much, remove it.
- Carefully structure the team building flow, pace, thinking time, sharing time, breaks, learning time, and fun time.
- Limit the size of the focus groups to 4 or 5 people. Discussions take place via video calls and if the group is too large, not all of them will be able to participate.
- Share the tools that will be used during the event in advance.
- Make sure everyone knows how to use these tools, even if it means sending tutorials.
#4 Establish clear ground rules to ensure that discussions are smooth and inclusive.
Our rules for the hackathon:
- I-deas : just shout out your ideas, there’s no need to go into detail/justify where the idea comes from.
- D-evelop ideas, listen to others’ ideas and give your feedback about them.
- E-xpress all ideas! There’s no such thing as a good or bad idea, so share them and don’t self-censor!
- A-chieve 100 ideas. Focus on quantity! You can select the ideas that seem the most relevant afterwards.
- L-iberate your mind! All ideas are welcome, even the craziest ones!
#5 Créez une expérience
- We sent 2 surprise packages before the event, which we all opened together right after our CEO’s speech about what we learnt from 2020 and the ambitions for 2021. The parcels meant we could all enjoy a sociable experience together, even remotely. Thank you Les Fous de Terroirs for the lovely baskets full of regional produce and thank you Panopli for the great sweatshirts with our logo on.
- We set up a speed dating session to meet our newest recruits and say hello to our older members. This was very popular and will be repeated in Q1 to keep us more connected.
- We set up a remote drinks session, as well as an escape room in teams of 5 which we organised with the help of Banana Events. This activity created a really fun experience full of team building and competitiveness.
#6 Take regular breaks
An online event is much more tiring than a face-to-face event. Employees sit in front of a screen all day long, so breaks give people time to stretch, have a coffee and deal with customer emergencies or what’s going on at home.
#7 Take the opportunity to realign yourself with your works culture at a time where everybody is working from home
We used the Emotional Culture Workshop from Riders & Elephants. We wanted to talk about how we need feel emotionally in order to succeed as a team, but also about the less positive emotions that we still feel and that we need to be empathic about.
Last but not least, we identified the reactions that we will not tolerate and that we need to provide feedback about. We had planned 2 sessions of an hour and a half each, with a section about concrete actions we can take to maintain our culture during this unusual period and this new acceleration on our side.
#8 Inspire your teams
We invited Alexia LABEZIN Head of Project Business at Rexel, and Romain LIBEAU, COO of Swile.
Alexia Labezin shared her experience of Rexel’s transition to digital, Rexel being a group of over 27,000 people. In this remote working and digital age, Alexia stressed that any company is actually capable of managing this transformation. Even though organisation, following and executing plans, rigour and perseverance are in theory the keys to success, it is above all the human element at the core of the project that makes all the difference. Giving employees the right to make mistakes so they can bounce back, demonstrating flexibility and adaptability within teams, and dealing with the mix and diversity in a company are all criteria and assets that must be exploited during a digital transition.
Romain Libeau shared his experience of hyper growth in start-ups with us, using the example of the Swile company, which went from 2 to 300 employees in just over 3 years. For Romain too, diversity is one of the keys to a company’s success: it is important for Swile that everybody finds their place and they constantly rely on the strengths and assets of their employees. Nevertheless, corporate values and culture remain crucial for this constantly developing startup: ensuring that employees who share the same corporate values are integrated into the company creates a strong and virtuous foundation on which to build and grow. Romain was able to cite the exemplary nature of the managers, as well as the right to make mistakes as part of Swile’s core values.
These two speakers demonstrated that people are always at the heart of any company’s development, and that a strong team enables you to progress further.
We had a great time and were satisfied with the results of our post-event survey. 88% of Bimers feel more connected after the event and 79% think they learnt something new. Despite such good results, here’s what we would do differently if we had to do it all over again:
- Simplify the team challenges and explanations for the ideation part as much as possible. Facilitation is harder online, and although we shared instructions in advance and took time to move from group to group, the instructions were too complex to make it very easy online.
- For the next few Boost weeks, we will readjust the time spent on each workshop, or reduce how many of them there are. This ambitious programme has not always made it possible to spend enough time on certain activities, according to some Bimers.
Despite the challenge of setting up an online event given the health crisis, we were able to turn these difficulties into opportunities. All our Bimers were at this event, and all of them were involved in the activities, and suggested feasible, concrete actions to help BIM&CO develop optimally.
We’re already looking forward to setting up next year’s version of these Boost Days, which we hope we’ll be able to do face-to-face!