Looking back over the years, I can honestly say that the team at Spartan Stores (Steve, Pete, Jay, Rahul, Pete W., Wally) was the best I’ve worked with. I worked with some really smart people that knew what it took to write top-notch software. We knew when to work, but we also knew when to play. While it was never official, our team building consisted of lunch trips to the local bike shop and the occasional day trip to one of the local mountain bike trails. There were many times when we’d have meetings and someone would be riding their mountain bike in the office around the conference table. We also took breaks and went behind our building to kick a soccer ball around or throw a football. Hell, there were days we’d play Unreal Tournament too. It was a solid team that could produce results so we never got any flack.
While working at Sequoia, it wasn’t as laid back as Spartan because we all had to be billable, but we still found time to do team building – mostly at the project team level. Our manager did take both the Lansing and Grand Rapids offices on a day-trip to go canoeing on the Au Sable river near Grayling, Michigan. It was a great day. They chartered a bus for us so the alcohol flowed freely on the ride to Grayling. The canoe trip itself was hilarious with people (especially the manager) getting dunked throughout the day. It let us blow of steam and get to know everyone in a very casual setting. Great stuff.
Of course, I also worked at a company (within the last couple of years) that thought team building consisted of the following:
- personality profile testing
- sitting in a conference room discussing how we could deal with the different personalities on the team. :-\
- disciplining anyone that tried to speak up about how stupid it was.
I applaud Keith for bringing his remote team together in the way he describes. More managers/leads need to do stuff like this.