Hosting company-wide Team Camps is crucial, here’s why
Once you join Pleo, it won't be long before you hear about Team Camp (TC for short).
People are either still talking about the last TC or they're making plans for the next one. The destination, the people they're going to connect with, the things they want to learn.
Our own co-founder Nicco has referred to TCs as a "logistical nightmare" (and they can be tough for our People Ops organisers!), but he's also one of their biggest champions.
More companies are truly embracing remote work but if they're anything like us, it won't take long for them to realise that getting together in person still has huge value. And once you grow to our current stage (300+ employees, five offices across Europe – and ambitious plans to grow even more!), the value of Team Camp just increases.
"Logistical nightmare" or not, this is why it's worth the hassle.
What Team Camp is
Simply put, Team Camp is us trying to get every member of our team together in one place – regardless of where they're normally based.
That means everyone based in our Copenhagen, London, Madrid, Stockholm or Berlin offices decamps to one destination to mingle together.
It gets better – because our workforce might be scattered all over the world, but we're all part of the same team, no matter what timezone we're in. So, for TC, our remotes fly in from Quebec City, Cape Town, Milan (and lots of other places besides).
And what did they get at the end of a long flight? A lot: Workshops, socialising and everything in between.
(NB: Of course for some people, making Team Camp isn't always possible for a variety of reasons. We work overtime to make sure they get a cool experience too and don't suffer too much FOMO. Keep your eyes out for a future blog on how we try to do that.)
Where Team Camp is
Does Team Camp *have* to be outside your office, in some far-flung location?
It's a good question and the past few years have seen us experimenting with different options; sometimes out of necessity, sometimes out of a drive to keep experimenting.
It's all a question of what's right for your team at the time of course.
In 2018, we could hit the slopes of Saalbach in Austria – but that was when our company basically filled a single chalet for the après ski fun. Now we'd probably fill a couple of ski resorts... and that's harder to organise.
During the lockdowns of 2020, we staged a fully remote Team Camp which was rewarding in its own way, but which some of us felt lacked some of the sparkle of Pleo "taking over" a location.
That's probably why our first proper TC of 2021, when travel was opened up again, saw us decamp to a hotel in Spain for some sun, sand and strategy.
Why Team Camp is*
*stick with us
Team Camp is our opportunity to reconnect to our business goals, our purpose and to one another.
We do a number of sessions – some of which see us all together in one room, some of which see us break off into smaller groups. Expect lots of interactivity, lots of idea exchanges and a LOT of "you're taller than I imagined from Slack".
Also, expect some treasure hunts or bingo games that give us a chance to have some fun together.
The beauty of Team Camp is that often we're mixing with people from different parts of the business, so that Product can bump up against Sales who can mix with Marketing. It brings us all that little bit closer together and helps us appreciate the different departments that make Pleo work.
And the whole thing is kept as interactive as possible, because we just don't believe in sitting in the same conference room for eight hours, enduring another presentation and desperately waiting for a loo break.
If it sounds like there are a lot of moving parts to a Team Camp, well, there are. But we try to make that part of the fun.
So back to our initial question: Why in the world do we do these?
We recalibrate our business goals
Amid all of our team’s achievements, Team Camp is when we hit pause and reflect. We shine a light on different teams’ progress to see what's working, what isn’t, and how aspects of our business could be approached from new angles.
New brand initiatives or upcoming product launches can get the kind of exciting, glitzy launch that just isn't possible in a virtual meeting.
Team Camp is a chance to set new ambitions for the future of better business spending and form early hypotheses on what it takes to get there.
It gives us the sense of purpose that we need to work together toward a common goal.
We meet team members – old and new
Team Camp always kicks off with a favourite tradition of ours.
Jeppe Rindom, our CEO and co-founder, introduces every new team member, all of whom are welcomed with dancing, clapping and cheers from the entire company. We see their pictures on the screen and off the top of his head, Jeppe gives them a shout out by name.
He started doing this in the early days and guess what? He still does it. It's nuts, honestly.
Our most recent Team Camp in Spain was our first in-person since late 2019, so that meant Jeppe reeling off more than 100 names. He'd memorised each of our new starters, even the ones he'd only met that day.
Team Camp is a great way to make those joiners feel part of something cool and to get the old-timers reunited with other familiar faces too.
Realign our personal values and goals
Team Camp is a time of reflection, both on a business level and on an individual level. We spend a lot of time taking stock of our own values and ideas and look at how we can translate those into our work.
With a cohesive understanding of our business and perspective on what each team will be working on, it’s easier to understand what our work means.
It’s important that we know what’s next for us, and acknowledge that we’ll always have our work cut out for us.
At Team Camp, we can connect the dots between different parts of our company, see the bigger picture and make sure we’re still following our North Star.
Celebrate our wins
In the hectic pace of day-to-day life at a company like Pleo, it's not always easy to take the time to properly pat oneself on the back.
Take our hard-working engineers – as soon as they complete work on the next feature to revolutionise business spending, do you think they put their feet up and crank up the tunes? Well, they might do that – but before long they're back to work on the next big thing that'll delight our customers.
At Team Camp, those engineers can look back on the features they've built and receive the praise they deserve from the rest of the company. Likewise, the Sales superstars can get a shout out for the big deals they've closed. Designers can see their work projected onto huge screens for everyone to marvel at. People Ops can get a round of applause for the endless hours they spend finding brilliant candidates.
A new way to see Pleo
More than anything, Team Camps allow us to get out of the office with our colleagues to work and develop new ideas, with a clear sense of how our efforts will help grow the company.
From the second you head off to the airport with your colleagues, you're seeing a different side of them and forging a stronger bond. And once you hop off the plane, you're diving in at the deep end of the company – properly immersing yourself in aspects of Pleo that you just don't get in a normal Mon-Fri workweek.
It’s crucial to keep us motivated, and united together to work towards a common goal.
Engaging with one another face-to-face can’t be beaten. So even though TCs can be crazy hard work and dedication from a lot of the team, we see it as a crucial part of helping Pleo to succeed.
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