Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
Posted on February 13, 2014

13 Great Ideas For Small Team Events

This is another article from the series “Grow It Strong: Business Ideas For A Dream Company. Our road to the exceptional team, winning culture and Fortune 500 clients”. You can check the previous posts here.

Our small team feels like a big family for each of us, and like every family we have special traditions. Some of them have been followed since the company founding, ideas for others have come up randomly. But there is one thing they have in common – these “rituals” make us all stick together and stay connected.

If you’re looking for ways to get more tight-knit with your own team, you can totally try out the ideas below.

1. Out of office lunches/weekly

Every day we have lunch together at a big table. Most of the team order food online and those with loving and caring wives bring goodies with them :) We spend a whole hour chatting and usually laughing to tears and after slaking thirst for communication, everyone gets a chance to work productively the rest of the day.

But Thursdays are special – we leave our cosy office to eat out and switch gears. It’s vital that we all go to the same place and do not split into interest groups. Sometimes it’s quite a mission impossible when, let’s say, the ever-hungry guys dream of giant burgers while the nutrition savvy gals want to go for steamed veggies. But for the sake of the company well-being, someone needs to surrender. And most of the time, the ladies-first rule applies :)

2. Retrospective meetings/weekly

Every Friday before jumping into the weekend, we arrange retrospective meetings for everyone to share what they have been up to during the week. We touch on both work and personal issues like:

  • things done for a certain project/contributed to the company;
  • problems faced and ways to handle them;
  • interesting stuff learned;
  • read books, watched movies, visited places;
  • and honestly, anything one would like to tell about.

When one of us talks about technical details, we try not to go too deep so that our non-developer part of the team won’t get bored.

To make meetings smooth and relatively quick, we get ourselves prepared by putting down all the points in advance. Thanks to Everhour, we hardly miss any important activity :)

These meetings are a nice way of keeping the whole team updated on the company and each member’s progress & achievements. Besides, we get a chance to know a bit more about each other and get even closer.

3. Office breakfasts/postponed

The idea is that one or a few times a week we come to work about half an hour earlier (usually we arrive or try to at 10 a.m. ) to have breakfast together. It’s great if people also bring some food to share with others like at a potluck.

Such breakfasts give an opportunity to have a relaxed chat on any topics, switch into the right mood for work and wake up after all.

Bonus: if having had a meal together, the whole team will more likely get hungry at about the same moment so no one will have to have an extra snack before lunch.

We’ve been arranging breakfasts for several months but paused it temporarily because in winter it’s too cold and dark outside and it’s somehow a challenge to get up earlier :) But we hope that as spring comes, the sun will charge our batteries and let us restart the tradition.

4. Developer lab/every two months

Once in two months on Saturday we organize some kind of a small hackathon. We call it “Saturday boobs” and don’t ask why :)

Topics can vary, the main thing is to do something really cool and interesting for everyone. There are two possible scenarios:

  1. We generate the idea together and divide the work among all the participants beforehand;
  2. One of us comes up with the idea himself and keeps it secret until the hackathon day. All the other team members find out about the topic only on Saturday morning. In this case, the idea generator becomes the captain and manages the other members who should follow all the instructions.

How do we pick the topic? We choose mini projects that are possible to accomplish in a day.

Is it obligatory for the whole team? No, it’s not. But of course, the more people, the better.

We’ve already come up with a cool idea for a new hackathon and we’ll reveal it in one of the coming posts.

5. Getting drunk together/once in a while

Nothing unites people like a shared drink. Following that, once in a few months we go to a bar together to socialize and get more or less tipsy :)

What’s interesting, lots of amazing ideas come to mind at such get-togethers.

You can keep up with our go-out chronicles on our Facebook page.

6. Masterclasses/twice a year

The idea of arranging masterclasses has come up after our two-day team building event where the other co-founders and I have made presentations and discussed the company growth and development strategy with the team. You can read more about the event here.

We’ve decided that we should definitely do it on a regular basis, in autumn and spring. We all agree that the best option is renting a house out of town for two days with the daytime dedicated to presentations and the evening/night – to fun and relaxing stuff.

One thing we want to do differently is letting the whole team take the floor instead of just the bosses :) Each person will choose topics he/she would like to cover beforehand to have enough time for preparation. It does not necessarily have to be a presentation or a speech, it could be real-time coding.

Spring is coming, and so is our first masterclass. As soon as we try our hand at it, we’ll be ready with a story for you.

7. Fresh air bits/each month of summer

We have a whole bunch of things we want to do in summer:

  • Rifle shooting (we’ve already taken a shot at it – see the pics here – and won’t mind repeating)
  • Archery (planned)
  • Karting (it’s a must for every summer, check our previous race)
  • Segway riding (our first try is here)
  • Paintball (certainly a must, here is our last battle)
  • Volleyball (we haven’t managed to gather the whole team for the game so far, but we’re going to)
  • Kayaking (haven’t tried it yet but I guess it would be fun and maybe, a lil’ bit extreme :) )
  • Cycling (it would be awesome to take a bicycle ride together)

8. Snowboarding/winter

At Weavora, snowboarding has become almost an official requirement for team members, both current and potential, while skiing is banned :) Skiers, no offense!

Some of us who are pro snowboarders go riding every other weekend when the weather is suitable. We have two decent facilities in a 20-minute car ride from the city.

And we’ve agreed that additionally we should go snowboarding altogether at least once a winter.

9. Company birthday celebrating/once a year

January 18th is our company birthday and along with celebrating it together, we have a tradition of eating a special custom-made cake. Not only should it be yummy (which is the top priority, no doubt) but also have a special meaning in terms of how it looks.

Check our and versions of the birthday cake.

10. Halloween office party/once a year

Every year on October 31th we carve a pumpkin, decorate the office with spooky things and celebrate with lots of food and board games. And we’ve no plans to change it.

11. NY party/once a year

We are lucky to celebrate NY twice: traditionally on December 31th with the family and friends and in late December with our team. We’ve tried different approaches and styles of parties and after the latest one we’ve figured out the criteria of success:

  • Fun dress code (we’ve tried bowties this year)
  • Element of surprise (we’ve arranged Secret Santa using Elfster)
  • Lots of photos (though this part might be overlooked during the party, it’s always a shame to realize that the awesomest moments haven’t been captured)
  • Decorations
  • Food theme, e. g. Japanese (sushi), Spanish (paella), Italian (pasta & pizza). This year we’ve gone Spanish with sangria, hamon with melon, sandwiches with mozzarella and pesto.

12. Office poker/a few times a year

A couple of times a year we call off any plans for the night and stay at the office to train our poker faces. To help the people get more involved and motivated, we play for money.

In spite of not being professional poker players, we really love such get-togethers, and the fact that after the last tournament we left the office only at about 2 a.m. totally proves that.

13. Office presentations/every month

We have a lot of fun things going on at the office but don’t get it wrong, we don’t forget about education and self-development as well. Once or several times a month, someone prepares useful presentations on interesting and hot topics.

That’s what we do or plan to do together with the team and by no means the list is complete. I’ve just mentioned those things coming to mind right away and am certainly updating you on any new traditions we’ll start. And I’m sure we will :)

Really hope you’ve picked some ideas to try out with your own team. I’d love to know how it goes!

And you guys, do you have any special team events? It’d be just great to hear about your company traditions and in & out of office activities!

Stay tuned for the new article from the series that will cover team members’ work requirements and responsibilities including those for a developer, designer, content manager, QA specialist.