Highlights from a Week of Adventure and Connection

Explore the synergy of work, play, and team building through Keepme's Kick-Off 2024. This blog unveils the significance of a well-executed annual event, delving into the fusion of fostering new relationships, strategic insights, and adventure. Explore the art of balancing work and play, and our pivotal treasure hunt experience that forged enduring team bonds. As organizations seek impactful team-building, Keepme's story offers a compelling template for shared success and lasting camaraderie.
Matt McCallum
Matt McCallum
January 22nd, 2024
Highlights from a Week of Adventure and Connection

The importance of fostering team spirit and building strong professional relationships cannot be overstated. A well-planned and executed annual company kick-off week provides the perfect platform to achieve these goals. 

Drawing inspiration from the real-life experience of Keepme's Kick-Off 2024, let’s take a deep dive into a week that blended work, play, and team building, and now creates an ideal template that can be repurposed for any team.

Why Organize a Company Kick-Off?

A Kick-Off event is the 7-Minute-Abs for team cohesion (except it works!), setting the stage for a year of collaboration and shared success.

Alignment of Goals and Vision:

  • This is the best chance leaders will ever get to communicate the company's vision, goals, and strategic direction for the upcoming year. This alignment ensures that every team member understands their role in achieving the company's objectives - everyone gets to hear it directly from source.

    Whatever your goals, without your team's understanding and buy-in, they're just ideas. You know that growing your revenue will come from acquiring more members and improving your retention, a kick-off event creates a unique opportunity to make these goals clear, and how everyone can play their part in delivering them.

Team Building and Unity:

  • Go team! An annual kick-off event brings employees together in a relaxed and informal setting - it's a reunion, it's introductions, it's the holidays but with people you actually need every day.

    Teambuilding “builds trust, mitigates conflict, encourages communication, and increases collaboration”, Forbes 2016. 

    Your team understands your goals and vision, but they won't work towards it if they don't collaborate. If your Q1 goal is to grow membership by 25%, you won't get there unless your team can communicate clearly and easily with one another, with strong relationships built on trust.

Development and Training:

  • Incorporating training sessions and workshops into the kick-off event can provide employees with valuable professional development opportunities. 

    We can all get caught-up in the tasks that make up our working days, but with the right workshops and training you can reveal strengths and skills within your team. We know the importance of a diversity in our teams and the best hiring strategies are shaped by this, but that alone doesn't mean you benefit from the diversity of your people's perspectives and experiences. Remember: not everyone is a born sharer or set to broadcast all the time, with a little trust and a little time you'll reveal things you could never have guessed, and crucially unlock actionable changes to bring you closer to your goals.

Cheers to Recognition:

An annual kick-off event is an excellent time to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of the past year. If someone is hitting it out of the park they need to know you know, and you have to show them it means something.

Does your team feel appreciated? Do you reward impressive performance and contribution? Shining a spotlight on your high flyers will make them feel recognised and appreciated, and motivate the wider team by instilling a sense of friendly competition and something to work towards.

Keepme Founder & CEO Ian Mullane presents John Dickson, European Sales Director with his award for Salesperson of the Year 2023Let's Feel Valued and Heard:

  • Keepme's 2024 gathering marked a historic milestone - the largest in-person meeting to-date for the company. The speed at which the usual daily Slack messages and emails gave way to in-jokes, laughter, and relentless ribbing, created a sense of unity that would permeate the entire week.

    Recognizing your team's contributions cultivates a sense of purpose and loyalty which has endless positive knock-on effects. The resulting enhanced team collaboration and job satisfaction will ultimately lead to improved customer experiences, again bringing you closer to your goals.

Boosting Team Spirit:

  • The energy and excitement generated during a kick-off event can have a lasting impact on employee morale and motivation. This NOS-like boost creates enthusiasm and a sense of optimism for the challenges and opportunities ahead. 

    Combining your event's activities and outcomes - alignment, unity, development, appreciation, and recognition, creates a buzz that is far greater than the sum of its parts. The goals and vision you share in the first instance are now fuelled by a team who are ready to attack them head-on.

Tell Your Company's Story

Origin Story? So hot right now, and yours is the most important one you can tell. Every story has a beginning, don't assume everyone knows yours by heart, rather use it to establish context, instil pride, and align teams with the company's journey. The benefit of this is 10x anyone new to the team as I was for our kick-off, and no amount of reading, listening, or learning on my own could have achieved what that first-hand account did.

Our kick-off began with a comprehensive overview by Founder & CEO, Ian Mullane, providing insights into Keepme's history, recent achievements, and future endeavours. What a sense of purpose that gave us for the week!

“Our Kick-Off was an incredible success! Meeting my entire team face-to-face before diving into Q1 was an invaluable experience.” - Chris Guaty, Keepme Director Of Sales, North America:

Balancing Work and Play

Setting the right tone is crucial for a successful kick-off.

We achieved this delicate balance by ensuring accessibility and informality. The agenda incorporated various formats, from ice-breaker sessions and talks to more collaborative break-out sessions. Well-planned breaks included outdoor activities, and the location (and weather) lent itself to morning walks which various members of the team planned together of their own volition, fostering both well-being and team morale. 

It’s important to leave room for these organic interactions, and another simple way to achieve this is to leave space around meal times. With a 9am start each day and 1 and a half hours for lunch, attendees shared meals with a different mix of colleagues each day in a relaxed setting. Come evening, planned dinners added a little formality and sense of occasion, but remained relaxed and focused on enjoying one another’s company with non-work related conversation. This was so important to remove that "always-on" feeling these events can instil, and let everyone be genuine and present.

keepme.ai - london kickoff 2024Then came the breakaway star of the week - the Richmond treasure hunt, a clear highlight for most, that not only served as a refreshing diversion but also emerged as a cornerstone for team building.

One Activity to Rule Them All - The Treasure Hunt

From the off, it's a smart move to incorporate one major event that will really get your participants’ buy-in, and will stay with them as a core memory long after they’ve returned to their daily roles.

You know your team best, but the prerequisites for your planned activity should be:

  • Fun (Real fun, find something anyone can do that fits your people well)

  • Collaboration (You need everyone to work together, build in rules that make this unavoidable)

  • Challenge (Let's not make it impossible, but it can't be too easy - a win must be earned. The utter failure of one of our teams tells me we got it just right - they know who they are 😜)

  • Trust (Your attendees must trust in one another's judgement and abilities to get it done - this might influence who you mix in each team!)

  • Communication (A good dynamic can generally be heard a mile off, your task should demand strong communication within the teams)

For Keepme, the answer was a treasure hunt. 

Why a Treasure Hunt?

Exceptional team-building exercise

There are two ways to put this: The interactive and engaging nature of a treasure hunt compels team members to work together, leveraging each member's strengths to decipher clues and navigate challenges. Or, in fewer words: "You three are now a team, you've got two hours to solve 12 clues, and the clock is ticking."

Either way, the result is the same. Your team will return to the gym with a much greater understanding of theirs and their colleagues' strengths and capabilities - a huge step towards a solutions-first mindset and a team that can truly self-serve.

Creative problem-solving

Teams are required to think outside the box and adapt to unexpected twists - dependent of course on just how much of a curveball you like to throw. The shared goal of unravelling the clues creates a sense of unity, instilling a collaborative spirit among team members.

These exercises also reveal individual strengths and talents, allowing participants to appreciate the diverse skills within the team.

Keepme’s Richmond Treasure Hunt

With 12 highly competitive Keepme personnel raring to go, we split into four teams of three to embark on a carefully devised treasure hunt around Richmond - we’ve created a how-to so you can organise your own Treasure Hunt, and we’ve even included the real clues and answers we used, you can find it HERE 🗺️

You can see the careful planning involved, but it all paid off, with all teams taking the event seriously and setting out to win. In fact lunch that day quickly descended into some pretty serious smack-talk ahead of the hunt!

Over the course of two hours many thousands of steps were walked and 12 clues were issued and solved: 6 to get to the correct next location, and 6 to decipher at each location to reveal a number - all 6 numbers in the right order would ultimately crack a safe at the end of the adventure.

In team building terms, the treasure hunt squeezed months’ worth of relationship building into little more than two hours. A masterstroke in team dynamics, it brought together individuals from different teams and straight-up delivered instant collaboration - immediately strengthening interdepartmental relationships.

The activity challenged participants to work closely with colleagues they might not interact with in their day-to-day roles, creating an environment where teamwork and problem-solving were paramount, and fun. 

And in the end one team triumphed, but all vowed to come back fighting the following year, and better yet all were determined to do so in the same teams.

“I thoroughly enjoyed getting out and about Richmond for the treasure hunt, it was an excellent change of pace, but no less mentally taxing!” Jon Dickson, Keepme Director of European Sales

Tangible Value & Outcomes

Remember at all times what you need to get from your kick-off to help you stay on track during the planning stage. In our case, diverse team activities, such as the company behaviors challenge and 10x discussions, not only showcased the value of varied perspectives but also generated actionable results. 

“The team session on values was an excellent exercise that confirmed we were on the same page regarding what we all thought of our brand and what it should stand for.” Sumeet Mann, Keepme Customer Service Manager, EMEA

Possibly our biggest win was how our participants candidly expressed their enjoyment of team building, idea sharing, and the unique experience of the treasure hunt. These activities played a pivotal role in fostering camaraderie and creating lasting shared experiences.

Next Steps

“The seamless blend of team bonding, strategic insights, and a touch of adventure made for a triumphant Kick-Off event. Here's to a year of shared success!” Steffie Bryant, Chief of Staff

Keepme's Kick-Off week stands as a testament to the power of combining work and play to foster a positive team culture, and offers a step-by-step guide for you to do the same.

Our discussions resulted in some fanstastic strategic insights, but the bonds formed during moments of shared adventure were just as big a part of what we view as a successful week.

You're navigating a dynamic business landscape. Our recommendation? Use the lessons learned from our experience and invest in team-building activities that leave a positive lasting impact on both individuals and your company as a whole when it comes to achieving its goals.