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TECH MATTERS

What we discovered about each other on our summer retreat

The cliché “Work hard, play hard” doesn’t quite resonate with the way we operate at Despark. Of course we work hard. But our path towards a balanced and healthy environment has naturally led to a more peaceful and chilled-out way of having fun together. In line with our love of mindfulness, deep work and desire to bury the hustle, these days we choose to relax together and be playful in a more meaningful way.

Once a year, at the end of June, we go to the seaside and celebrate our summer retreat. We simply enjoy spending time together, so this is all we care about for those three days. This year we went back to Sinemorets, a place that has the right vibe for us — peaceful and playful at the same time. Our second time there proved that it won’t be the last.

the beach at Sinemorets

The 2018 edition was the first one to have a theme — Empathy. In previous years, we just went to the seaside and spent time at the beach during the day, partying during the evening. The evolution we’ve been through both as a company and as a team made us confident that we could add more value to our retreats. Not only for us, but also for something we deeply care about.

cliff edge at Sinemorets

The Quiz

Focusing on empathy, we developed a quiz to play together on the second day of the retreat. We prepared questions related to Despark and all the team members in 4 categories, graded in difficulty. Each category brought 1, 2, 3 or 4 points to the team who answered the question first (and right). All 55 questions aimed at getting to know each other in a deeper way, discovering the team hobbies, backgrounds and peculiarities.

As a couple of years ago our leadership team took this personality test and really enjoyed it, we asked all team members to do it before the start of the game. We then mixed people in teams based on their results. Turns out our team consists mainly of analysts and diplomats, which makes sense for the industry we are in. It also shows that if we’re looking for more balance, sentinels and explorer types would be great new additions!

For us, empathy can mean a lot of things in the context of Despark. With this game we wanted to get the team to understand their colleagues at a deeper level, to see how we can be both very similar and different at the same time. 16 personalities is a great way to get people to understand their dominant strengths and see who else on the team shares the same identity.

Despark team doing the 16 personalities test

The team taking the 16 personalities test

Reflections

This quiz was the right way not only to get to know each other more deeply, but also to have great fun together! Loads of laughter and competitive spirit surfaced during the game, as well as some interesting facts, like how many people on the team were born by the Bulgarian seaside (six), and who flies a paraglider over Sofia after work (Neda). The winning team was awarded 500 leva to spend in a style of their choosing, the only condition being that they should spend it in a thoughtful and empathic way. The winners are still finalising which charity they will make a donation to, giving the question much thought and discussion.

Not surprisingly, people continued talking about what they’ve discovered about each other long after the end of the game.

I am really happy that the team enjoys being together in a meaningful way outside as well as inside the office. This is why we don’t hold team building events — the team is already in place and it is truly awesome and well shaped! The summer retreat is a time to withdraw and restore from work; time and space away from our everyday life.

By the way, we also had the chance to celebrate our CSO Stoyan’s birthday together, which was amazing! He has been with Despark since the very beginning and the occasion was a great addition to the festive mood.

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If you liked what we share about the team and company culture, follow us for more insights. Next time, I will share more about our evolution as an employer and how we don’t need table tennis anymore to keep people around.