Plan Your Next Internal Event the Guru Way
Fun Fact: Did you know it’s possible to sustain good vibes for up to 3-4 weeks? It may sound strange, but I’m living proof of it. Guru’s annual company kick-off was from February 14th-16th, and I’m still enraptured over the whole experience.
When was the last time you got together with your entire company? Unfortunately, quarterly updates and the occasional all-hands meeting don’t count. I’m talking about a full-on immersive experience with your co-workers, manager, and plenty of others from around the company.
Why internal events matter
I know what you’re thinking after reading that last sentence:
That sounds expensive
That sounds exhausting
Time, money, and energy are pretty tight for everyone right now. Despite that, I’m a firm advocate for company-wide events. The benefits that come from them are far too compelling to ignore!
Internal events are like a panacea for employee engagement. They give people plenty of time to celebrate their work, connect with their fellow employees, and even flex some of their creative muscles. You have time to celebrate successes, make plans for the future, and just take a step back from regular work and relax.
Social relationships matter at work. They help people feel more engaged, happy and connected to work. Having that crucial time to connect and team build has always been important, but in-person interactions have become even more valuable as more companies move to remote work. Since Guru is a remote-first company, with nearly 65% of our staff working remotely, we wanted to really make our time together count
Plan internal events the Guru way
When the team went into CKO planning, we had two main goals:
For employees to deepen relationships with cross-functional teammates
To have employees understand how their role supports the company’s goals for the upcoming fiscal year.
We didn’t design CKO to be a week of presentations, long meetings, and fiscal reports. It also wasn’t a free pass to party (even though we did plenty of that too). We wanted everyone to experience the best of both worlds, so we planned an event that focused on creating balance with enough time for strategic alignment and straight-up fun.
Do you want to plan an internal event that can give you the best of both worlds? Here’s how Guru did it.
Build the hype
You’re taking on the task of planning an engaging all-hands event for everyone to take a chance to recharge, learn, and relax. Don’t you think that deserves a little hype?
There’s nothing wrong with a little pre-event excitement, and the best part is that you don’t even need to do a lot to get it. We created plenty of pre-CKO hype, and we did it all within the tools we use every day for work.
We had a dedicated collection for CKO in Guru that had our agenda, FAQs, things to do, and anything and everything related to CKO. Our announcements and Follow a Card feature helped alert people to changes in programming and added a little excitement to the day. Whenever we’d post something new, it would just be a matter of time before the Slack chatter and emoji reactions would start rolling in.
Think about scheduling and timing
Schedules can make or break events. A company-wide event filled with back-to-back activities can feel overwhelming, but an event with only one or two things a day can seem sparse. We chose to have our more business-oriented and comprehension-focused content in the morning and fun activities at night. People tend to learn best in the morning and need an energy refresher after lunch, so consider splitting activities between the morning and night. Having the schedule in Guru also added to the employee experience. Being able to quickly pull up the schedule when you’re debating ducking out for a break or nap can make it easier for people to plan their days.
Although there’s plenty of time for work and fun, there’s no denying that CKO is a busy time for everyone. Company news, team building activities, happy hours, dinners —that’s a lot of fun, but that’s still…a lot.
You may not have a lot of flexibility in your schedule, but you can still make it so that people who choose to sit out events aren’t entirely out of the loop. We made sure that every session related to work had an accompanying Guru card where people could learn essential takeaways or watch video presentations of what went on.
Educate people about their environment
Our headquarters are in Philadelphia, but our employees are all over. Some people were stepping into CKO like they were taking a staycation at home. Others got to experience the thrill (and fear) of being somewhere completely new. Instead of making them take guesses on where to grab a quick bite to eat or find an afternoon of fun, prep them ahead of time!
Our “The Ultimate Guide to Philly” Card has been an essential part of our Company Knowledge collection for years now, and you better believe it got another update before CKO. People could use the card to learn more about the immediate area and get some quick ideas on where to hang out.
Create opportunities to bond outside of set teams
It’s so easy to create social silos at work. You tend to socialize with the people on your team and maybe a few others you’ve worked with. Internal events like CKO throw everyone into the mix, and the results can be surprising. What could be more beautiful than to see people in finance breaking bread with the marketing department? Imagine what could come from a conversation between the VP of engineering and someone in HR!
Don’t expect people to treat your internal event like the social free for all it can (and should) be. We made sure to randomize people for group activities ahead of time to make it easier for people to socialize outside of their team.
This is another area where having Guru came in handy. Every Guru employee fills out their Guru employee profile with their likes, dislikes, and special secret talents. Want more info on who you’re talking to? Just check them out and Guru, and now you know more about them aside from the fact that they work in UX.
The in-person advantage
Guru isn’t a company that’s fueled by synchronous, in-person, 9-5 work anymore, and we’re willing to bet that yours isn’t either. In-person interactions have become even more valuable as we’ve shifted to a remote-first company, and we're proud to give people the opportunity to come together.
When you’re used to working asynchronously and having the knowledge you need at your fingertips, big events like ours become a lot more manageable and fun. If you want the same for your company, we know the tool you need to get started.