How to maintain a working culture of innovations, exchanging ideas and being together?
Teamwork, knowledge sharing, innovation and openness are just some of the values we build our company's culture on. These are values that we as an active contributor share with the Drupal community, and encourage our employees in. We have several great initiatives like WunderCon (this is our yearly internal company wide conference) and WunderTalks (weekly online sessions hosted by any employee) that bring wunderers together, but this time I would like to share an initiative our Latvian offices came up with – Innovation Fridays.
"Innovation Friday is a day where our offices get together to share knowledge and strengthen personal connections.” Dāniels
At first - why it all started?
Working in an international company we spend most of our time working in different international project teams, and communicating with colleagues from other Wunder offices (instead of the ones we actually share an office with). Some of us also work remotely on daily bases, we’re growing fast, and it felt like the only time we come together is Christmas. At the same time there are so many competences and ideas people could share and learn from each other…
So to ease the information flow, strengthen our values, encourage collaboration and to provide a platform for open communication, we came up with the idea of Innovation Fridays. We wanted to create a continuous event for employees at our Latvian offices (in Riga and Valmiera) to come together, share knowledge, exchange ideas and do something great outside everyday routine. For the last 2 years these events have been expanded beyond Latvia office borders with 3-5 colleagues from other countries joining constantly.
How do we do it?
Our first Innovation Friday took place on October the 10th 2014, and just recently on March the 17th 2017 we celebrated the 10th one! Some things has been improved during the time and this is how it looks like now.
The event takes place every 2-3 months alternating between Valmiera and Riga. Before the event everyone is encouraged to propose a topic of their expertise or interest. Then we have a vote and the most popular ones are included in the programme – we want to keep this as community/colleague driven as possible.
“We can learn new things, come up with new ideas and start implementing them right away.” Līva
Innovation Friday always starts with Wunder Family Meeting – this is a summary from management perspective on how the company is doing, and what are plans for the future. After that we’ll focus on joint presentations and discussions. Occasionally guest speakers are invited too, or we might visit a place that we can learn something from. Afternoons are dedicated to workshops, BoF's or code sprints suggested by colleagues. We usually have 2-3 parallel sessions to make sure everyone can find something for their interest. The day ends with a retrospective on everything we have learned on that day, and smoothly turns into a non-formal part with chats, games and fun.
During these 10 Innovation Fridays we have covered more than 100 current topics:
What it takes and what it gives
To turn one Innovation Friday into the numbers - we approximately invest 20 man hours to organize the event, and a more or less 250 man hours to make it happen. In addition, no client work is prioritized during the day.
But if we start to count the uncountable, Innovation Friday is an excellent tool to:
- evoke employees interest and involvement in the company processes
- encourage peer communication and collaboration
- as well as give space for raising competence and self-realization.
And we 100% agree on this – it definitely is worth it!
Getting awarded for keeping up the company values
In May 2017 we took our chance to attend a competition on human resource management called “Excellent employers DNA”, and shared our learnings on Innovation Fridays as a good practice on how to use culture and values in organisation processes. We didn't receive the main award in the category but we really enjoyed the sharing :) In the end it turned out that the others did too, and we received two special awards: one from the competition organizers – recruitment company “Eiro Personāls”, the other from the event supporters – company called “Latakko”. Thank you once more for making us proud and happy! We promise to keep up the good work!