People doing different types of fun activites during Halcyon Mobile's team building at Coltesti.

What to expect from this article: In this blog post, we’ll share our team building experience and the learnings we’ve gained along the way, to help you plan and organize your next team building event with ease.

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March of 2020 was 20 months ago. That’s when we picked up our stuff from the office and went fully remote. Since then, we’ve seen each other regularly on Google Meet for coffee talk, yoga, numerous knowledge-sharing sessions, workshops, product demos, daily standups, and even got together in smaller numbers for occasional drinks too, but as much as we enjoyed them, these kinds of interactions lacked a certain depth. And, as time went on, we started yearning for something much more personal, profound, something that connects all of us beyond the screens. We wanted an analog experience in which we can all participate, one that we can shape, enjoy and remember. Thus, last month, after careful consideration, thorough planning, and CRP tests we headed to Coltești for our team building. And because it turned out to be one of the best we ever had, in short, we thought we’d share our learnings and tips for a safe, fun, and inspirational team building, should you want to plan one yourself. 

When it comes to organizing a team building the key units (5 w-s) are: Who, What, Where, Why, When. However, since the Who (team) and the Why (purpose, goals, and objectives) are very specific to each company in this article we’ll offer a few tips on the When, Where, and What parts of the equation.

WHEN – Time & Date of the team building

Picking the date, time, and duration of a team-building is seemingly pretty easy, but there are a couple of things you need to take into consideration.

So make sure to choose a time when:

  • MOST PEOPLE CAN ATTEND – look out for vacations & busy calendars
  • THE WEATHER IS FAVORABLE – especially if you’re planning an outdoor experience

Our choice:

There’s an ongoing tradition at Halcyon Mobile that we organize our team buildings at the end of summer/beginning of autumn. To ensure a high participation rate we plan it after the summer holidays when things are slowing down a bit. We like this period of time because the weather is usually not that cold, so we can spend time outdoors and enjoy nature. The actual date is always decided by a vote within our team. We usually leave on a Friday and go into the weekend, ending the event early Sunday at the latest, to leave enough time for the team to recharge and spend time with their families.

WHERE – Location of the event

The best place for your team building is a space that aligns with your goals. A location that inspires, boosts morale and offers multiple opportunities for people to get closer and enjoy fun social activities. If the perfect spot happens to be an off-site location you’ll need to provide your team with timely and specific information on how to get there, figure out carpooling, or ensure transportation for them.

In our experience the perfect location has to be:

  • SAFE – clean, tidy, and above all COVID-19 compliant
  • CLOSE TO NATURE – to disconnect people from their urban, technology-filled lives, get outdoors, and improve their physical, mental, and spiritual well-being
  • PRIVATE – have the place for ourselves and be unbothered by other guests, so we can reconnect without distractions
  • EQUIPPED, COZY AND SPACIOUS – sizeable (parking, rooms, common areas), comfortable, fitted (heating, cooling, internet connection, amenities), and staffed in a way that allows people to relax and party
  • HOME OF GOOD FOOD – nutritious, copious, and delicious food, with vegetarian and vegan options included

Our choice:

Conacul Secuiesc, Alba County, Romania. 

A hidden gem of the Transylvanian countryside, surrounded by a large garden, overlooking the Rock of the Szeklers (1171 m) and within walking distance from the Coltești Fortress Ruins. This location was truly out of a fairy tale, especially now, at the beginning of autumn, with the gold, orange, and red hues of the changing leaves mixing with the blue and gray of the mountains. The mansion was incredibly cozy and spacious with idyllic traditional rooms, good food, lots of common spaces, and a huge wine cellar that allowed us to engage in team-bonding activities and relaxation.

Conacul Secuiesc, the location of Halcyon Mobile's team-building
Conacul Secuiesc, the location of Halcyon Mobile's team-building
Conacul Secuiesc, the location of Halcyon Mobile's team-building

WHAT – Activities 

Strive for the perfect combination of fun, relaxing, and team-bonding activities – something accessible for every taste, personality type, and energy level. 

Make sure your agenda incorporates:

  • OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES – physical exercise that gets the blood pumping, like bike rides, hiking or sports
  • GROUP ACTIVITIES – team-bonding games that require communication and collaboration between members, like a scavenger hunt or an escape room experience
  • RELAXING ACTIVITIES: for the end of the day, to unwind, kick back, and rest like boardgames or a picnic
  • FREE TIME: uncoordinated activity, time and space for conversations, catching up, or even disengagement if need be

Our choice:

Rafting: An activity that was new to most of us. We did it on the Aries river, enjoying the beauty of the surroundings. This activity kept our heart rates high, increased our trust in each other, and was extremely fun.

Board games: Large selection of board games from Cards against humanity to chess and Closer.

Campfire & mulled wine: Relaxing and intimate, we were a merry group of friends gathered around the warmth and light of the campfire.

Party: Strobes, people, and a couple of party bangers.

Hike: The second day, after a restful sleep we took a mild hike to the Coltești Fortress Ruins and stopped to admire the breathtaking dream-like surroundings.

Activities at Halcyon Mobile's team building - rafting and campfire party with mulled wine
Activities at Halcyon Mobile's team building - Chess, boardgames and fresbee
Activities at Halcyon Mobile's team building - hiking and exploring nature

With September ahead of me, I thought it would be a cozy fall this year. But the company surprised me with an exciting and memorable weekend. At the most stunning place near Cluj, they organized a rafting experience for the team. What an idea at this time of the year, not usual for sure. We had an adrenalin-rich experience, everything was energizing: the cold water, the laughter of the team members, the colorful landscape around us. 

To make it even better, after the rafting and a traditional dinner we had an unforgettable team party at the foot of the Rock of the Szeklers. We spent most of the night not caring about the cold outside, drinking mulled wine by the campfire and chatting cheerfully. Later, the chatting turned into an epic party, dancing and playing board games until the sun rose. In the morning, we had a short hike to the Coltesti Fortress Ruins. The best ending of an amazing time together.

Katalin Neda , iOS developer at Halcyon Mobile

I had a really great time at our team building! Working from home doesn’t often give you the chance to interact with all of your colleagues, so seeing everybody and having fun together was a great reminder that there’s an actually awesome person behind the screen or the keyboard.

Lorena Pop, UX/UI Designer at Halcyon Mobile

Spending quality time with my co-workers, playing Frisbee with an awesome foggy mountain in the background and a few games of backgammon while the music was kicking in the other side of the wine cellar. I enjoyed the Goulash to the last spoonful, got really stuffed by the tasty second course and oh, the Papanasi, mmm tasty. Seemed that everyone enjoyed the party and the small and big talks, since we went to sleep almost when the Sun came up. Thanks for making this happen, I hope there will be many more to come.

Alpar Biro-Szokolovszki, QA Engineer at Halcyon Mobile

If you like what you read, enjoy our company culture and feel that Halcyon Mobile is a place where you’d like to work, feel free to browse our open positions. Maybe there’s an opportunity that would fit you like a glove. We’re looking to hire locally in Cluj-Napoca, as well as remotely from all over Romania.