A lot happened at Globalme this month. But the biggest thing of all was definitely our annual team retreat to Whistler, B.C.. Like last year, we packed our bags full with winter gear, board games, and notepads soon to be filled with the remnants of brainstorming activities the weekend was sure to have in store. Unlike last year, we weren’t able to fit in a minibus for the drive to Whistler; instead, we piled aboard a huge, hulking beast reminiscent of one of those cross-country Greyhound’s.
Getting the Team Together
The nature of what Globalme does means we’re on the road a lot; attending industry conferences, collecting speech data across countries and continents, doing localization for 35+ languages, testing wearable devices, and more. That, along with the fact that our team ballooned from 20 people this time last year to 38 full-time employees means it’s a rare occasion when the entire team is able to get together. This made the retreat an opportunity like no other for some cross-departmental bonding, sharing and learning. So, the utmost importance was placed on being present for the retreat – although who wouldn’t want to spend a weekend frolicking around the snowy slopes of Whistler is a downright mystery.
The premise of this year’s retreat was to partake in brainstorming sessions, speeches and friendly competitions that honed in on and brought to light our company values: transparency, courage, innovation, positivity, excellence, impact and self-improvement. In particular, calling on every team member to be self-leaders and to question how they (we) will contribute to the growth and continued success of Globalme.
Going Above and Beyond
While our retreat-organisers were busy putting everything together, they noticed two people who indicated they wouldn’t be able to make the weekend. After a bit more digging, they discovered that these two people happened to be new mothers who couldn’t be away from their tiny humans for such a long period of time. That’s when an amazing thing happened. Instead of admitting defeat, our co-founder, Hanna suggested renting a house just for babies, their mothers and spouses. This understanding meant those two star employees didn’t have to miss out on a valuable weekend and is a perfect example of Globalme’s company culture of inclusiveness, flexibility, support of our peers and coworkers, and going above and beyond.
In a Dragon’s Den-esque competition, our three functional teams (localization, data collection, and testing for wearable technologies) were pitted against each other. Our data collection team was tasked with coming up with a pitch for their company if it were to spin-off of Globalme to become its own entity; our localization team was tasked with arguing what differentiated us and made us better than other localization companies out there today; and our testing team was tasked with pitching how we can expand within our existing client base and how we can expand to other companies.
The teams pitched to a panel of impartial judges who asked hard-hitting questions at the end of each presentation. In the end, we were all thoroughly entertained and left for lunch with all kinds of ideas buzzing around our heads. In fact, a few cross-departmental innovations are now in the works!
Pitch Your Passion
Another memorable moment of the weekend was a group activity created with the aim of leaving us with a new take on the saying: “do what you love”. Instead, turning it around to say: “love what you do”. The exercise called for two people who don’t usually work together to pair up, share their passions, and then create a business idea incorporating those passions. After finding a partner, we had half an hour to brainstorm our business ideas and then present to the rest of the team.
It was amazing to see what kinds of creative innovations each pair came up with; and the enthusiasm with which the ideas were presented. From creating a travel company whose business model centered around organizing tailored holiday packages for each individual (from cooking lessons to jiu jitsu to adventures in the wild), to launching a chain of spin studios which utilize their clients’ cycling power to create and store clean energy and take their studios off the grid.
Aside from breakout sessions and end-of-year speeches, Team Globalme cooked breakfast and dinner together, spent hours playing acoustic guitar karaoke, and stayed up until the wee hours of the morning valiantly defeating each other in too many board games to count.
Did you know that mashing potatoes is a totally valid team building exercise?
We hosted a Christmas sweater competition, a ‘crap’ exchange (essentially, white-elephant style secret Santa but with things you already have in your house), and countless rounds of the endlessly entertaining ice-breaker game, ninja. Not to mention, a whole day of skiing and snowboarding, hiking in the snowy mountains of Whistler, cross-country skiing and multiple trips to the village to stock up on baked goods and a few bottles of wine.
Ultimately, team building happens inside and outside of the office, and we no doubt feel closer than ever after spending four days and 24/7 together. Relaxing and having fun with your team is just as important as overcoming tough work-related challenges, and we made use of every minute of our time in Whistler together. It was an incredible experience, and we already can’t wait for the next one.