A couple weeks back, Formstack held its first-ever “All Hands” week, where we brought in our entire team for a few days of bonding and company brainstorming. Remote employees from California, Oklahoma City, and even Poland joined us in Indianapolis for three days of scavenger hunts, poker, “lava floor” games, and team building activities. It was a blast, but it was also an essential week for maintaining our remote culture and inspiring our team for upcoming projects.
We wanted to share some highlights from each day with you:
Day One – Tuesday, September 24
The first day of our All Hands week kicked off with a scavenger hunt around downtown Indianapolis, powered by an AWESOME company called The Go Game. Completing fact, photo and video missions via an iPhone app, Formstackers raced around the city in teams of four or five. Teams could also complete missions with other teams for more points. Team “Bringing the Au Bon Pain” came in first place for scoring the most points during missions, including one that required dancing behind a stranger for as long as possible without them noticing (so of course we made a gif out of it).
After lunch, we welcomed an outside speaker. Aaron Houghton is the current CEO of Boostsuite, and he also co-founded email marketing platform iContact. During his presentation, Aaron talked about his experience building and expanding iContact, as well as some cultural observations he gathered during iContact’s rapid growth. He provided our team with valuable insight about employee happiness and efficiency, as well as marketing growth tactics. We appreciate the time you took out of your day to talk with us, Aaron! It was so insightful.
Day Two – Wednesday, September 25
On Wednesday, we loaded up a charter bus bound for Camp Yale in Winchester, Indiana. Camp Yale is a leadership retreat center that specializes in employee team building and morale-boosting activities. Throughout the morning, the Formstack team participated in various activities with valuable company lessons. All of the challenges required communication and cooperation from everyone on the team. For example, one of the breakout activities required team members to stand on a beam and order themselves chronologically by birth month. If anyone stepped off the beam, we had to start over. Activities like this challenged communication skills and encouraged teamwork.
At the end of the day, everyone had discovered one or two team building skills to improve upon in the future. We were also told that our lunch order (compiled with a Formstack form) was the most organized and understandable document Camp Yale had ever received. That felt pretty awesome, too.
Day Three – Thursday, September 26
On the last day of All-Hands, we started off the day with a planning meeting and an interview with Ade Olonoh, the founder of Formstack. His inspiring talk gave insight into the history of our company. In turn, Ade interviewed Chris Lucas, who recently returned from a month-long sabbatical. Chris shared his major takeaways from his time off from Formstack, including the importance of a work-life balance and how he had begun to take coding classes (yes, we saw his practice website).
The rest of our final day included card games, dinner and bowling at Latitude 39, 60-second challenge games, and general hilarity.
Because this week was truly about encouraging and connecting our employees, a few members of the Formstack team agreed to share their takeaways from All Hands 2013:
“Having everyone together at the same time was awesome in and of itself. We had a lot of fun and learned great deal about how we work together. I enjoyed the scavenger hunt around Indy. Our communication skills and teamwork were tested while still having tons of fun.” – Lance, SEO and Design Wizard
“We have a great team and a very healthy culture where fun is a priority. During All Hands, I got to see aspects of people that I never knew. My favorite activity was poker night on Tuesday. It was just nice to get to know my coworkers outside of our jobs. There were a lot of laughs.” – Alex, Product Manager
“I joined the team right after Formstack became a remote work environment. So I’ve only had the chance to “meet” some of the remote workers via computer screen. Usually when you meet a co-worker for the first time, in person, you shake hands, chat, and then get to work. That’s not really how it goes when your first work experience with someone is building a fake bridge to move across a fake peanut butter river in the middle of the woods at Camp Yale. As an intern, our All Hands week solidified that I work for the coolest group of people I have ever met. Cheesy as it may sound, I have never felt community like I do working here with the Formstack team.” – Brianna, Sales Intern
Want to see more photos from the event? Check out our Facebook album. Curious about how to host a week like this at your company? Let us know in the comments below, and we will put you in touch with our office manager.