At Whitesmith we always had various company events with the goal of creating stronger bonds between each other, which is especially important on a distributed team. These events have varied throughout the company's history, and in this post, I'm going to give you some examples of the various types of events we have or had.
We work together, and we spend so much time together, so why should we spend more of our time with each other? The truth is that, as you probably know, even if working together naturally creates a relationship, there are other aspects that are fundamental to help cement that bounding. This cementation means events where people can have more fun, laugh, share personal stories, and cooperate on different things that are not "work".
Chat Roulette (deprecated)
Chat Roulette was an event where, four people randomly selected, scheduled 30min/1h to go on a video call and discuss any topic from the top of their mind. This was very much to mimic the conversations we usually have in a coffee shop or pub.
We did this for a while, but we noticed that due to this requiring the use of a computer, people felt it was more like work than actual leisure. So we eventually stopped.
If we repeat this type of event in the future, we'd invite people to do it while they go for a walk (with phone and headphones). This would make the gathering feel much more informal and enjoyable.
Gaming Nights (deprecated)
Gaming Nights were done on Wednesdays. We gathered online usually to play Counter-Strike, and sometimes Fortnite or WoW.
At the moment these events are a bit stalled. Gathering enough quorum interested in the same game has been hard. Maybe everyone's waiting for the next big thing to play...
More recently, and as a way to replace the old Chat Roulette, we decided to implement Water-cooler Thursdays. Contrary to Chat Roulette, which happened on a video call, and required all participants to be available at the same time, these happen on our Slack and thus done async with the entire company.
Water-cooler Thursdays consist of, every Thursday of course, sharing your answer about a particular question (For ex: "What’s your favourite place you’ve ever visited?"). People tend to respond quite in depth to these questions. They're great to know each other better and spark some casual interaction between us.
Every other week someone is randomly selected - by our magical "Sorting Qat" bot - to organise some sort of team gathering event. There are no rules for what type of event this should be - the only recommendation is that we intercalate remote with onsite events, which honestly is not easy since most people tend to have a bias towards organising onsite events.
On these "Qombibios" we have organised movie nights (at home or at the cinema), dinner at someone's house, play online table games, real-world table games, paintball & laser tag sessions, go downhill on the river, play "What music is playing?" online, etc...
Beer Fridays are probably our oldest event ever - we've been doing it almost since the beginning of this company. And it's as simple as it sounds: every Friday, in the cities where we have our HQs, people join for some beer, usually followed by dinner and... some more beers.
Every Wednesday we reunite for a good and sweaty football match. When we don't have enough people for the match, we bring some of our friends to join us.
It makes us feel good and it's healthy!
We have spoken about our retreats before. These are full-week gatherings, where we flyover everyone from the Whitesmith family to a single place to work, have fun, do workshops, play games, cook together, and much more. It's probably our strongest team-building event of all!
These events are great and, besides strengthening our relationships it also keeps our culture strong and healthy. Naturally, due to our personal lives and preferences, we don't all have the time to go to all of them. People are free to pick which ones they want to go. And the truth is that they have made us better workers and have been a strong building block of who we are today.
What about you? What events do you have in your company? Which do you suggest for us to experiment?