10 ideas for getting your team together.
Here's 10 events that I've run that will work for teams that are mostly remote and want to get together occasionally. Nothing too run of the mill!
Here are 10 events that I have run with a few noted learnings from various implementation. They can be run in-person, remote or hybrid (if that's how you roll!) and can vary in length. I’ve listed specific examples, there are plenty more! (please do share!) - they existed before pandemics but maybe we didn't do them enough.
Team/Company Learning Day - Conference of employee-led talks - At Hive we ran our first one of these in a whole company ‘hybrid’ format with success, the lesson here is to try to do everything you can to level the experience. The second time we ran this we made it remote for everyone to be more inclusive but have also run regional/department versions (Don’t invite everyone for a drink in the ending summary if you have remote guests!) - Our learning day recently threw up some amazing stories and talks, we went deep into sustainability, technical architecture and network science but also included topics such as the worlds loneliest whale and home automation with node-red.
Hack-a-thon- These can be run anything from a few hours to a few days At Hive Learning we’ve run a few of these company-wide with all employees with amazing results. Most recently we ran a half-day whole company remote hack to create ideas focused on bringing our values to life, but have also run them hybrid and in person. The results? 30% of the ideas being currently worked through our platform teams came directly from a Hackathon.
Code Retreat- This appears quite an engineering-focused concept but the idea of practice is not. A code retreat is simply a series of 45 min pairing sessions, designed to focus on the concept of practice and group work. The retreat is simply the idea of a team taking time away to practice together. At Hive in the engineering teams we chose to use Conway’s Game of Life for our first Code Retreat, each 45 min session involved solving the challenge with a different constraint each time starting from scratch with a new coding partner, it really helped us to connect across technical boundaries.
War-gaming - Team practice against each other focusing on a specific area. For us, this usually entails engineers introducing bugs, security or performance constraints to the system while the opposing team triages in real-time. It's great to give teams the time to game against each other in a safe environment and usually goes down really well.
Chaos Monkey - This can be automated or manual but essentially involves introducing anomalies into the system that can be detected through monitoring. We don’t have an automated system so we give the title to an engineer for the afternoon and they usually wear it with pride. We’ve found some amazing ways to include other teams, often including the sales/support/service team with early reporting or notifications.
UnConference - A team led discussion - these work particularly well with highly engaged groups who can self organise around themes or challenges, with groups less familiar with informal days it helps to have a lively facilitator!
Season of code - Inspired by Google’s Summer Of Code - this can work as a long-lived hack-a-thon running across 3 months allowing staff time to collaborate, create or innovate on employee-led ideas. Great opportunity for people to meet up outside the office in coffee shops etc.
Bug Bash - Collaborative day or half-day of getting everyone together to focus and resolve bugs - this can be pre-releases or post-release / ‘when things get bad’. - the purists will shout anti-patterns here and they’re correct an effectively operating system should not build up a catalogue of bugs that require a day of ‘bashing’, but situations can manifest themselves for example where speed is critical or we discover use cases late; sometimes no matter how much testing we do mistakes get through and it requires human effort to put right.
Team Showcases - Sharing back with each other progress on current work - we have a ‘working out loud’ approach to work so find these sessions super useful for inspiring positive change in the team and sharing ideas.
Project Kick-offs - In our platform teams we follow a cyclical process of agile development - these include whole team kick-offs across multiple functional areas of the business - great opportunity to bring people together. (we actually do these quite often so mostly do them online to avoid hybrid meetings with ‘big heads’)