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How a trip to Greece made us a better team

Engineering
5 min read
How a trip to Greece made us a better team
Jonas Gyalokay
November 14th, 2017

We packed our laptops and sunglasses and embarked on a 10-day workathon to Corfu, Greece. With 3 similar Airtame Workathons under our belt, we want to share our experience with you in the hopes you’re inspired to try it out in your company.

We did it again. We took our company of 54 people and turned a hotel in Greece into the ultimate team bonding experience. The Airtame Workathon marks a special time of year when our Denmark team, US team, and our various remote workers are all in one place together.

We worked together, shared meals, and had an amazing time getting to know each other on a more personal level.

What is an Airtame Workathon?

The annual Airtame Workathon is something between a team bonding bonanza and a work sprint. It’s a chance for us to shake up the daily routine and work on cross-team passion projects we might not normally have time for in our day-to-day work.

Credit: Mads Hensel
Trip to the secret spot.

Why Corfu, Greece?

With over 20 nationalities amongst our 54 person team, we have the advantage of working with people from all over the world. When our team member from Corfu, Greece offered to show us around his home island, it was an offer we couldn’t refuse. From that point, he took over the leg work and did an amazing job of arranging accommodation and creating a one-of-a-kind experience. Shout out to Theodore for your hard work!

The real value is living and breathing the company for a week and being around everyone else who lives and breathes the company just for a week and you get a lot of ideas and conversations happening that wouldn’t happen ever.

Daniel Schiffer, US Sales

Strengthening cross-team collaboration

As in previous years, we had clear goals set for our 10 days in Greece and they involved more than just working on our tans. Weeks before we boarded a plane, each of us brainstormed projects, pitched the ideas, and built our own teams.

What made this trip extra special was that we aimed to work across different teams. This gave us the chance to learn from the various teams’ experiences, whether we came from Support, Logistics, Marketing, Sales, Design, or Engineering.

The nice thing about this cross-team initiative is that you got to know people who you might usually just give a quick ‘hello’ to in the morning (or in our case, a high five).

We saw each other from a completely new perspective and we got much closer to each other. It builds a lot of trust.

Christina Hanna, Senior Designer

Building trust without lame icebreakers

The value of the workathon can’t be counted in hours worked or in Airtames sold. Workathons are the best way we have found to build relationships and trust in our team.

After the Airtame Workathon, our team survey showed that 98% of our team members felt closer to their teammates and 93% felt they could trust their teammates more.

So, how do we do it exactly? How do we build trust? The Airtame team has never believed in awkward icebreakers or mandatory team building activities. Instead, we create situations where relationships can grow organically.

We shared meals together and were encouraged to sit next to someone new at every meal. We planned certain activities amongst ourselves, like yoga or workout sessions that everyone was free to join.

In typical Airtame fashion, our Workathon organizers also hosted some extra special activities that challenged us.

For example, we filmed an Airtame music video together that most of us hope never sees the light of day, which put our creativity to the test. We also went on a half day hike, but of course, we weren’t satisfied simply hiking.

We were put into teams and were faced with a mix of challenges at various stations along the Greek mountainside. We had to figure out together how to solve the challenges, like trying to get a cork out of a bottle using only a plastic bag. The rocky hiking path led us down to a secluded beach where we competed in a final sand castle competition that was anything but child’s play.

Because of these challenges we face together in a fun and friendly setting, the camaraderie and trust grows naturally.

Airtame’s work culture is not about simply pushing people out of their comfort zones. It’s about offering people amazing opportunities they would never get anywhere else and giving them the support they need to grab those opportunities. This is how we grow and stay together.

We never stop learning because what would be the fun in that?

Jonas Gyalokay, CEO at Airtame

Keeping our work culture alive

We all came back from Greece feeling fantastic. We created unforgettable memories together as a team. Weeks after, we were still sharing stories and jokes over lunch.

We use this positive energy to fuel our daily work and inspire creativity. In fact, it was partly thanks to the Airtame Workathon that gave us the final oomph of inspiration to accomplish our recent Airtame 3.0 update.

Now that we’re back in the office, we want to make sure we maintain an amazing work culture. Recently, we’ve experimented with a Slack integration called Donut that randomly pairs two team members who then set up a coffee date together. The smart thing with using Donut is that the Donut Slack bot pairs people who have little interaction on Slack. As we keep using it, the Slack bot will continue to get smarter about pairing people up.

After a coffee date, we snap a picture, so everyone can share in the moment. It is a small, simple thing that’s fun and keeps our team relationships going strong.

What does your team do to create a great work culture?

Jonas Gyalokay
Jonas is an entrepreneur at heart. He's the CEO & co-founder at Airtame. And he's the co-founder of two sons with his wife, Amanda. When he's not building, he's probably playing with his kids, eating great food with his wife, listening to an audiobook, out running or watching either basketball or comedy.