Good habits die hard, luckily. We’ve made it an annual tradition to close our laptops, pile as many people as legal in the company cars and drive to other regions, leaving Antwerp behind, undigitized, disrupted and lonely.
This year we set out to discover the Ardennen, not as exotic as the other years, but the venue was 10 times as cool ! An old renovated farmhouse with enough bedrooms for al 35 bagaarians, a big ass kitchen and an endless garden to explore, what’s more to want?
Why we do this? That’s an easy answer I guess. All work and no play makes us dull. And it is to the benefit of our clients, ourselves, our HR, our marketing, our health and sense of humour that we are rested, inspired, enthusiastic and, well, happy :) Don’t get me wrong, we’re not a hippie-happy-company with experimental HR-opinions, we just use common sense and want to be a company people like working for and with.
It was not just binge-drinking and sleeping, we also wanted to feed our brains. One of the ways to achieve that were our morning sessions. Every morning we had 3 knowledge sharing topics to choose from. You know, peer-to-peer is super hot, so are we, so we organised it. No-brainer. There was a session on Scrum, Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, Blockchain, the basics of animation, etc. Even ‘Web Development 101’ for our non-programmers. Everybody could get a taste of the other colleagues expertise, as stated many times before, in development no man is an island!
Another thing we dove into was our innovation offering. Traditionally, framing workshops, brainstorms, ideation, … is reserved for business developers and strategists. They don’t code ! They don’t develop ! So we wanted all the different profiles to have a taste of the innovation process we go through with our customers, to get a better understanding all the way up and down the production chain. In small groups we got to experience our guided innovation process from a Lotus Blossom exercise, tons of post-its, long nights coding mock-ups, and pouring it into an attractive presentation for pitch day ! The results were both hilarious and genius, like every good idea ought to be. (NDA upon request, we practically solved all the world's’ problems. #justsayin)
To wind down a little and get some input we had a Tedx-movie night. We compiled a playlist with contributions from everyone, full of TedX and also other talks that impressed and/or inspired us. Shortlist at the bottom of this post !
So you can see, there was plenty food for the brain but also actual and honestly delicious food, made by our dedicated catering duo, with the super professional assistance of the whole team.
Because everybody knows, while doing the dishes together, the best conversations take place.
So food for brain, food for belly, … Time for some action!
Adventurous souls as we are, we made some time to explore our beautiful surroundings. A couple of brave early-birds went for morning runs, there was an afternoon of mountain biking and our creative minds (read: designers) went on an impromptu hike (and ruined their shoes in the process :D ). We even paid a visit to the moon! ... at the Euro Space Center, with Virtual Reality Moon Walks and revolving gyroscopes to test for accuracy under duress and space nausea. (note to self; don’t drink too much before testing space nausea).
The rest of our time we filled spontaneously with Marshmallow Challenges, a trivia quiz, very very long round of ‘chapeau’, late night karaoke sessions (sorry guys!) and even a hARckathon (AR + hackathon + ‘harken’ / drinking, a bit complex). During the hARckathon a spontaneous AlgoRave party erupted at the hands of DJ Zowie ft. Alexander, to be continued ! We concluded the week with - how else - a heavy dose of paintball.
Bruised, well fed, a bit tired and full of inspiration we went home. To be repeated, next year.