Employees from Oslo, Houston, and Palo Alto gathered in Texas for a week of fun, socializing and an internal hackathon.
HOUSTON, USA – Arundo takes pride in promoting community and team efforts. This is largely due to working in Scrum teams during regular work days. However, the company is constantly looking for better ways to maintain this collaborative environment and continue its open communication and ideative processes. Slack™, videoconferences and traditional email make this easier now, but for a distributed team nothing can compare to time spent face-to-face. As a result of this discovery, offsite meetings have become a tradition that plays an important role for every employee in Arundo and is also supported from the board level.
The first Offsite was held in Palo Alto in the early stages of the company. The second was held in Blindleia, Lillesand, Norway with great success, so it was decided to host the third in Texas as the Houston office has grown to be the largest office in Arundo. It was a great way to invite the Oslo and Palo Alto colleagues to see the new Houston office and to show them a proper Texas-sized good time.
The focus of the Offsites is twofold:
- Strengthen a sense of having a work family, and
- Use the time together to tackle big concepts and new ideas
To address the sense of family, the company tries to plan fun activities that embrace the team spirit: sports, cultural events, or just having a good time. In actuality, the sense of team is built over the course of the entire week: traveling, playing and working together.
Big concepts and ideation are tackled through a daily "professional program". Despite being spread across three offices, the company works very closely on a day-to-day basis. The Offsite enables focused time while co-located to develop the big ideas, such as mission and values, and tackle the big issues, such as how to provide value to customers.
Teamwork and Activities
The first half of the Offsite was held at Horseshoe Bay outside of Austin, giving everyone the opportunity to enjoy the lake area and beautiful rolling hills. The company stayed at three separate houses on the lake.
During the day, we focused on updates from internal leads, as well as teams getting together to work on future plans for the company. With the passion each employee has for the work and Arundo, everyone was eager to get some work done. The company broke out into teams to review and reinforce the mission and values ("Have Fun" was still high on most teams’ list). Breakout sessions allowed departments and cross-team groups to plan how to improve processes and brainstorm fresh ideas.
The lake houses were also close enough to enjoy the history and energy of downtown Austin, and we even had time to take a boat cruise on Lake Travis to watch the sunset.
After staying at Horseshoe Bay outside of Austin for two days, it was back to Houston for the second half of the week. The team attended the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and the out-of-towners got a taste of fried pastries and feisty bulls. We also went to a local Houston Shooting Range where everyone got a few lessons in gun safety and handling. Lastly, we played some golf at Top Golf where we crowned overall winners and had lots of fun playing against each other on different teams.
During the last two days, a full-team Hackathon was a big focus in Houston. The developers and data scientists formed cross-functional teams and tackled a common issue data scientists and data-sensitive organizations face. This turned out to be a great exercise as it really allowed work across a diverse team which in turn generated new ways to be creative and innovative in developing unique solutions. The two teams showcased the developed solutions with the outcome being actionable ideas that can become solutions for customers.
Ultimately, the main takeaway is that this time spent together as a complete company is absolutely crucial for moving forward and invaluable for the culture at Arundo. Everyone truly valued the time spent with the full team not only at the activities, but also being able to work together. The various teams put in place new daily standups, various monthly and quarterly meetings and also created short- and long-term plans of action.
Arundo cares about its employees, believes in career growth and values each employee’s opinion.