After having met with each colleague face-to-face to discuss what their dream work environment would look like, one point was brought up time and again; VALA’s own product. Another frequently discussed topic was internal hackathons and workshops where we could put our brains together to solve problems or just have fun playing around with different kinds of technologies.
In a company with so much diverse talent and numerous interests, it felt like a no-brainer to combine everyone’s capacities and see what could come out from a product session. Therefore, in the middle of the darkest evenings of December, we all came together at our cozy office in Helsinki and arranged an all-day Product Workshop.
The day started at 10.00 in the morning with breakfast and numerous cups of coffee. We then proceeded to pitching everyone’s ideas one by one. Everyone had a chance to pitch as many ideas as they wished and even during the pitching, new ideas came up.
In a company with so much diverse talent and numerous interests, it felt like a no-brainer to combine everyone’s capacities and see what comes out.
Because it would have taken a lot of man power and been extremely time consuming to start working on each idea, we decided to vote for the ones we wanted to start working on during the workshop.
The ideas we ended up choosing, included a rescue drone (service) which could be used to help locate and rescue people and animals caught in danger. The other was a monitoring system for elderly people who prefer to keep living in their own home instead of a nursing home. The third product idea was a service product consisting of a unified way of offering test automation services to our clients. It was impressive to see how two out three ideas came from an altruistic angle of helping others.
After the vote count, we split into three teams and got to work. We started by defining the expected needs and going through possible solutions. We considered important aspects like monetization, technical implementation, the possible development environment, usability etc. It was compelling to contemplate over different perspectives, such as technical, business and user experience, together with people with such diverse skills and knowledge.
After a lot of pizza and many trips to the refrigerator, we presented our final proposals to the other groups. After pitching, we voted for the winner.
The best ideas for collective events and happenings usually come from employees themselves. Just suggest it and we’ll do our best to make it happen!
The winner was test automation; The winning team came up with an idea to form a unified way of doing test automation in VALA and creating needed tools to help implementing test automation solutions for our customers more rapidly. Although not intended, the winning concept was also the most relevant to complement our offering of software quality assurance services.
Finally, we concluded that now that we have the ideas and concepts ready, everyone is welcome to join the actual work developing the ideas further. All teams and participants were rewarded.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but I left the office that evening exhilarated and full of enthusiasm to see where our project could go.
Looking back a week later, it feels like there are still so many new ideas and developments popping into my head that I wouldn’t mind having another session straight away. Having a house full of innovative minds and encouraging colleagues is a huge advantage to the motivation one feels towards work and company culture.
All in all, the most important take away from this post is this: company culture has to be built from within. The best ideas for collective events and happenings come from employees themselves when you offer them a chance to be heard. Just suggest it and we’ll do our best to make it happen!
About the writer:
Jasmiina (Jasu) does internal HR work and company culture mapping and development at VALA. Her aim is to create and preserve a working environment that focuses on the individual through a sense of community, wellbeing and respect.