Team Week 2017: Working, Eating, Bonding

For the first time in a long time, Radish Lab had a full office last month. That's because we had our annual "Team Week", a time where our remote workers from Alaska, Oregon, and Berlin make the trek to our Brooklyn office. Team Week provides our local and remote teams the opportunity to connect face to face because while Zoom meetings and Slack are great, hanging out in person is even better.

So what did this week consist of? Food, lots of food. We stuffed ourselves with everything from Donuts from Dun-Well Donuts and Pizza from Roberta's, to Mediterranean food from Dar 525, and Bagels from Bread Brothers. Most of the meals we ate together, either standing around our kitchen table or shoulder to shoulder in our conference room. A lot of times we find ourselves so busy that we eat meals at our desks (except for our weekly team lunches!), but this week we made the extra effort to step away from our screens and share these (not so heart-healthy) meals together. We found that having scheduled team meals not only provided much needed breaks, but also a casual setting for everyone to get to know each other.

Besides all the food eating, we also did some traditional "team building activities". I know, I know, most people cringe at the phrase "team building activity", but we made sure that these would be fun, not painful.

Scavenger Hunt

On Wednesday we ventured out of the office early and hopped on the L train into Manhattan for a scavenger hunt. Our hunt, organized by Strayboots, started under the arch in Washington Square Park and lead us throughout the Village. Divided into two teams, we followed the hints given to us through a personalized url accessed through our phones. We were tired and thirsty after a couple hours of running around lower Manhattan, so we headed over to a nearby bar for some ice cold beers.

Crafts and Cocktails

Later in the week we got crafty and decorated mugs with ceramic paint pens.
We did this while drinking cocktails, of course.

Marshmallow Tower Challenge

On Friday we did the "Marshmallow Tower Challenge", an activity I dug up on the internet that promised to test our team dynamics and encourage communication and cooperation. We split up into 2 teams, and were given a yard of scotch tape, a yard of string, 20 pieces of uncooked spaghetti, and one marshmallow. Each team had 15 minutes to try and construct a free standing tower with the marshmallow stuck on the very top. The goal was to have the tower stand alone for 5 seconds, but only one of the 2 teams succeeded. Better luck next time!

Planning a Team Week of Your Own?

If you're planning a team week for your own team, particularly if you have a small team like we do at Radish Lab, we encourage you to first pinpoint exactly what it is you want to get out of it. For us,

our primary goal was to have our new team members (we added 4 new people in the past couple months!) meet the rest of the team. However, we also needed to allot time for some housekeeping items, like having our headshots taken by Alana for our website, conducting our semi-annual reviews, and making sure everyone was on the same page on all of our projects.  So while the social aspect was extremely important, we also needed to take advantage of everyone being in the office for business purposes.

Our goals for the week meant that things didn't need to be overly structured, but it was still important to be intentional about scheduling time for each activity.  Everyone was provided a schedule a couple weeks in advance, so nobody was surprised when we'd end the work day a bit early and they could plan that into how they managed their time during the day.

While it can be challenging to find ways to do fun things without taking too much time out of the work day, it's well worth the effort. You know what they say, a team that eats together (and does team building activities together), stays together.