Corporate culture has been a recurring topic at Freshtrax, often posing a challenge for those considering its impact on long-term organizational growth.
Questions like “Where do I start?” and “How do I involve my team?” are common, reflecting the perceived complexity of organizational change.
In this article, we delve deeper into team-building tips to foster corporate culture, using the btrax employee retreat in Hawaii in the fall of 2023 as a practical example. Some activities discussed can be applied within your regular office setting, making them easily accessible for those interested.
If you missed part one of this two-article series, please go give it a read first: Deepening Bonds through Team Building: Why btrax Held a Retreat in Hawaii.
Start with a Positive First Impression: Welcome Gift
As btrax team members from Tokyo and San Francisco gathered in Hawaii, a positive tone was set with a thoughtful welcome gift.
Each member received a welcome bag containing vitamin C powder, anti-sickness medicine, hand cream, and a personal message card from CEO Brandon.
Also, there were special stickers created by the design team for this retreat that were included in the gift. (I will talk more about the business card-sized cards that say ‘You are an inspiration!’ later in this article).
This small but thoughtful gift made the team members smile after their long day of travel.
Small acts of kindness and gifts can express respect and gratitude towards team members, and serve as an opportunity to make them feel that their daily efforts are properly recognized.
For those who want to try this in their workplace, even if you don’t have time to make gift bags, small gifts such as individually wrapped chocolates or snacks are a great place to start! Little treats can help to make team members feel appreciated.
Getting to Know Your Team: Mingle Bingo
Not limited to this retreat, btrax organizes regular online team-building sessions and annual events like Halloween to deepen team connections.
Also, while communication within the company involves a mix of Japanese and English, the base language is American English. Therefore, the general atmosphere is casual and open, not too formal. Consequently, interactions among members are relatively active, and there’s a sense of closeness among the members. However, there’s still much we don’t know about each other!
To make use of this unique occasion, the retreat introduced a game called Mingle Bingo to uncover lesser-known facts about team members. Each participant received a paper with Fun Facts (surprising details) about fellow members.
In a normal game of bingo, numbers are arranged in a 25-square grid, and players check off numbers as they are called out. The first person to complete a row, column, or diagonal line wins. In Mingle Bingo, instead of numbers, each square contains a fun fact about one of the members. Each member’s fun fact is collected in advance and printed on the papers without indicating whose fact it is.
Through the game, participants identified the owners of these facts with a simple “Yes” or “No.” This engaging activity, replicable in a regular office setting, proved successful in bringing joy and surprise to team members.
Members who thought they knew each other well from being in the same office discovered new aspects of one another, and those who had only spoken online tapped each other on the shoulder to start conversations.
The activity was very lively, with cheers erupting when the person behind a surprising fun fact was revealed. This activity, which involves moving around with a printed sheet, can be equally exciting in a regular office environment, so I highly recommend giving it a try.
Run around Honolulu!: Scavenger Hunt for Company Values
Are you familiar with our company values? They are;
- Be a forward-thinker
- Driven by creativity
- Empathize differences
- Fearless in trying something new
How can each of these values be personally experienced during this retreat? With this in mind, we tried an activity, a Scavenger Hunt set in the streets of Honolulu.
The group was divided into teams, and members completed missions such as taking group photos at specific locations or identifying the brand of ginger beer sold at a local store.
The competition encouraged teams to showcase creativity, individuality, and a willingness to try new things that are connected to our company values. The activity effectively connected team members, allowing them to shine beyond their usual roles.
If planning a scavenger hunt would be too much for you, you can start small. For example, a simpler setup like ‘Pair up and take photos of nice spots in the company.The team that brings back the nicest photo wins! (Everyone votes at the end)’ would make it easier to implement within a limited time.
Expressing Gratitude: Handwritten Value Cards
Do you remember the small card that was inside the first gift bag? At btrax, there has been a tradition of giving a short message like ‘You are awesome!’ to members who embody the company values. This card is a new design, refreshed specifically for this retreat. It’s designed to write the recipient’s name and sender’s name, check the value they embody, and write a brief message.
During the retreat, members took time to write cards for every participant, exchanging them on the last day. This activity served as a meaningful way for team members to reflect on each other’s positive traits and express appreciation!
Creating intentional moments for gratitude, whether linked to company values or not, enhances team dynamics.
Corporate culture is not achieved in a day!
I hope you get some inspiration from our team-building activities from the Hawaii retreat.
At btrax, apart from our values and mission, we have a motto ‘We are all designers’. This includes non-designer members, and we value everyone at btrax working with a design-thinking mindset. This means, for example, looking at problems that may seem too difficult from various angles to find creative solutions, and always being conscious of what the best solution or experience would be from a user perspective. In the case of this
Hawaii retreat, the “users” were the team members so the planning team, including myself, was pursuing “what’s the best thing for our team members?” In conclusion, these team-building activities from btrax’s Hawaii retreat demonstrate the long-term benefits they bring to a company.
Beyond the immediate connections, they contribute to smooth communication, build trust among team members, and foster creativity that transcends boundaries.
At btrax, we offer customized employee training and workshops, ranging from short programs to extensive multi-month engagements. If you’re interested, feel free to reach out for an initial consultation.
Our new E-Book is here!
We’re thrilled to announce the release of our newest e-book: “What I Wish I Knew Before Entering the Japanese Market.”
Featuring insights from industry professionals who have successfully navigated Japanese markets, this e-book will help you conquer the Japanese business world with confidence.