This year we celebrate the 10th anniversary. In the first scenario, we planned a huge party with invitations for clients, partners, allies, and the team, of course.
Pandemia and lockdown revised our bold plans for an extraordinary event. We’ve thought we could meet only with teammates, but even that option was too risky. Even in reality, before severe isolation, organizing an exciting event for +55 people that some of them live abroad, is challenging.
We work every day on being aware of everyone's concerns, current restrictions, state of health, and well-being. We canceled the offline event with the shared decision and rethought how else we could celebrate this occasion.
After thorough research and a few weeks of preparation, we had a plan for an online event and a bunch of side activities.
Firstly, we felt a need to thank current peers and freshly joined DO-OK’ers for being here together.
This is the moment to remember the company's core mission - making a positive impact on people's lives and using Earth resources in a more sustainable way by technology.
We’ve wanted a few activities in line with that approach and will prolong celebrating for more than a single moment. The next thing was to keep the whole preparation in secret; there were only a few insiders. We arranged an online event for the company members, prepared a welcome pack, and a special gift for individual choice from a carefully made shortlist. And last but not least, we’ve introduced ten challenges for the ten following weeks!
(Photos: DO OK’s birthday celebration in 2019)
From the very beginning, we were focused on delivering goodies that from one side will be enjoyable, useful, and as eco-friendly / zero-waste as possible. For example, all stuff in the box was carefully picked and packed by Karolina Salamon and protected with biodegradable filling made of corn starch.
First things first: coffee. We all know that coffee fuels clean code ;-) Everyone found in the package specialty beans from Costa Rica prepared by a local roaster that we used to drink in the office. We also added the right mug that keeps the drink warm, is dishwasher safe, and is made of recycled paper cups.
In the package, we also put: a gel mouse pad with wrist support rest, a webcam cover, custom stickers made by Peter Marciniak, our designer, socks with a funny DO OK-designed pattern, an eco-friendly notebook, and a copy of Good to Great (J.Collins) book, which is an inspiration to the mission and vision of DO OK. Also, some of the custom graphics we used were a sentimental nod to the past logo - the brain.
Last but not least, a small healthy drink for a toast during our online event was “a cherry in the bottom”. Inside the box was a description of what's inside, a few words of thanks, and a touching letter from Dmitrij Żatuchin, our CEO.
(Photos: welcome/thanks pack for DO OK’ers)
We expected our peers to be pleased, but we had no idea that we would also entertain their pets! After the delivery, many shared photos of how cats play with the box. That was delightful!
(No cat was hurt during the shooting.)
The online celebration was scheduled as a surprise event for Tuesday afternoon and was organized and hosted by Kasia Leszczynska-Bohdan. Again, only a few people knew what exactly would happen. All we asked for was to book for one hour and wear a funny hat or accessories. Well... we can always count on a sense of humor of our people! There were a variety of extraordinary hats: motorcycle helmet, hedgehog hat, Egyptian cap, spider-like band, Darth Vader mask, and a horse head.
In this cheerful atmosphere, we've started our meeting. The official part began with short, joyful, and empathetic speeches of the DO OK top management. During that part, our CEO reminded us how important it is to have the right people around and practice being grateful.
Shortly, everyone was invited to speak up. That was a space for best wishes, memories, and funny stories from the company's past. This part was a prelude for a surprise - a fun quiz about DO OK maintained in a lightweight form. Among questions, we asked who is the most active user on Slack (including how many messages were sent so far), which project was the longest, or what was pictured in our previous logo version.
(Photo: one of the questions in the DO OK quiz)
The quiz was run on AhaSlides (a Mentimeter alternative) that allows real-time interactions with the audience, like running presentations with polls, asking multiple questions, brainstorming with a word cloud, showing live feedback, Q&A, etc.).
At the end, the host announced the following challenges and briefly explained their rules. After that part, the team had a surprise for the CEO. We all knew that the hedgehog concept and Ikigai are close to Dmitrij's heart.
Hedgehogs are super-cute in our opinion, so we've decided to give him some goodies connected with this animal:
hedgehog-shaped tea infuser, cap & gloves with a hedgehog image, a hedgehog clock, socks, canvas for embroidery, pencil case, t-shirt, bag, mug - all with hedgehogs.
(Photos: The hedgehog concept was an inspiration for the gift for our CEO)
Our last moment was a toast with a healthy drink. Happy Birthday to us!
Isolation and remote work make a lot of things harder. e.g., building relationships, caring for mental and physical health, exploring the company’s culture, and entertaining together. We wished to counter these obstacles.
Moreover, several newbies joined the team during the coronavirus outbreak. They didn’t have a chance yet to meet all of the team members. Even if our onboarding plan includes a dozen people to talk to, there is still a limited space to meet each other. Therefore, we had to figure out how to support all our peers in the integration and relationship building. After a short brainstorm together with Kasia Sobótka, Kasia Pająk-Górniś, and Karolina Salamon we had some ideas.
The challenges are strictly connected to empowering our group. Most of the activities are prepared for one week and address different areas of health, company culture, and team building. Two challenges are permanently open for ten weeks: "meet with your peers" and "share some memories".
To make the matchmaking meetings easy-peasy, we've decided on one of the tools on Slack. Lead.bot connects coworkers to build relationships, share knowledge, and increase collaboration.
We've created a dedicated channel and let the algorithm match members who don’t interact on Slack often. This tool allows the group into pairs, triplets, quadruplets, or more; configures group sizes from 2 to 8 users. Lead.bot helps break the ice (especially with our list of 90 Icebreaker Questions for teams) between strangers. It increases the peer to peer interaction in a few schedule options (monthly, (bi-)weekly, or multiple times per week).
In our case, we decided for groups of 4 in weekly iterations.
This challenge is permanently on, so we hope to meet all our fellows and exchange ideas in every match.
The second pending challenge, “share some memories,” had started even during our online event when one of our colleagues told the company's story about the aged crock. Curious? Join us, hear this story, and create more extraordinary moments together. (you can check here if any open role suits you).
One of the newest stories happened during the pandemics and sounds a bit scary! Here you go:
“I'm a part of DO OK for 2 months, so it's not that much time to actually have something to share, and yet... it happened. During my first week, in fact.
As I'm more of a night owl than an early bird, I was alone at a late hour, working, first time to be the one to close the office.
I had a lot to work on, the deadlines were already looming on the horizon, so there I am, alone, focused, sitting in my corner of the office. It was dark outside and the total silence except for the sound of the keyboard under my fingers... when suddenly, I heard the footsteps. I froze and slowly, very slowly, rose from my seat and worked my stealthy way to the source of the sounds. When I peeked around the corner, I saw the light and a silhouette sitting in front of a laptop, crouched. It was a man in a tracksuit, with a prominent mustache, sitting at the head of the reception desk, counting big moneyz.
OMG, FIRST WEEK AND I HAVE A THIEF SITUATION, WHAT DO I DO?!
... In a quiet voice (hoping for it to sound confident and out of place instead of terrified), I asked, 'Who are you?'. His eyes slowly rose from the quite valuable pieces of green paper. He asked me the same question in a far more confident voice.
Mother of all, it IS A THIEF. I’m SO DEAD!
And then... I remembered one custom emoji that kinda looked like this guy. Bless me for doing the important stuff on my first day. I calmed down and quietly asked...
And all became clear. Now, all it is a small, goofy memory that brings a smile to my face. Quite the experience for the first day
And here is the emoji that saved the day:
Our second goal was to make the challenges align with our philanthropic mission. Taking part in at least one of the challenges contributes to increasing the pool of corporate funds to support one of the company's CSR activities. One of our initiatives is to pass computers and monitors to the County Family Support Center and an orphanage in Polkowice.
The last piece of the celebration was connected with a valuable gift. All team members have a chance to select a birthday gift (a smartwatch, a gift card, a high-end protective mask, a laptop backpack, and wireless headphones) that will be delivered after closing all the challenges.
During the event and each following day, we share many memories and stories and have fun and unforgettable moments. Even working from home, we are still building our culture. And that makes our work cheer, meaningful, and open to others.
Special thanks to: Karolina Salamon, Kasia Pająk, Kasia Sobótka, Piotr Marciniak.
Author: Katarzyna Leszczyńska-Bohdan