"Coming together is a beginning. Staying together is progress. Working together is success." – Henry Ford.
On December 2 2022, the Stenik team gathered from all around the country in Velingrad to enjoy pleasant moments together after months of hard work. The choice of the location and hotel was influenced by the team's shared opinion and recommendations following our previous team building in Veliko Tarnovo in June.
This time, the host of the Stenik event was Arte Spa & Park Hotel, which has been recognized as the best 5-star SPA hotel in the Balkans for the third consecutive year. The hotel is nestled in the forest, providing a beautiful view of the surrounding unique nature and opportunities for relaxation and walks. One of the reasons we chose this location specifically is the pine forest and the opportunity to take walks without needing to use our cars throughout our entire stay.
The hotel is supplied with one of the most favorable and therapeutic mineral waters in Velingrad. As Arte themselves share, "The biggest jewel is the SPA center" - guests can enjoy indoor and outdoor facilities with live mineral water, traditional and signature massages and procedures.
Chronicles and goals of the Team Building
So long-awaited time TOGETHER!
The team building for 2022 was organized due to the long-term remote work of a significant portion of the team, the strong desire, and the necessity for colleagues to have personal contact and time spent together. The goal was to gather employees from both Sofia (in and out of the office) and those working remotely from all over Bulgaria. Remote work sometimes instills a sense of isolation and distance, which we don't allow and effectively manage. Our formula is frequent gathering, sharing, and connectedness.
We had a strict program that included:
Early morning departure;
Internal company training;
Focusing on team achievements and celebrating them + incentives and commendations;
Activities, games, team time, entertainment;
Connecting with nature;
Gifts for the obedient ones.
Our objectives were:
To strengthen onboarding. Welcoming, integrating, and getting to know new additions and returning members;
To exchange knowledge and skills through internal company training;
To take stock of the past year;
To discuss and set new goals for 2023;
To pat ourselves on the back for what we've achieved;
To "immerse together" in live mineral water;
To get moving in fresh air, amidst the beautiful nature, without driving;
To have fun and relax.
Day 1: internal training and party
From the Stenik team to Stenik
At Stenik, we frequently organize internal company training sessions where different team members present new knowledge, professional challenges, inspirations and valuable know-how.
We exchange ideas that evolve into successes.
For us, learning and development are ongoing processes. They form the foundation for excellent team collaboration and motivation, building an organizational culture to achieve high results. As a team, we are interdependent and rely on the skills and knowledge of our colleagues.
Following this ideology, one of our goals during the winter team building was focused on training. Upon our arrival at the hotel early in the morning, even before having our first cup of coffee, we dove into the initial presentations by the teams.
We were divided into two groups in separate rooms, considering the different aspects and nature of our work. In the first conference room, the presentations were more technical and beneficial for our Magento development team.
In the other room, the rest of the team settled - project managers, designers, support, marketing, QA and sales teams - where they learned practical hacks, useful practices, and intriguing insights from the operations of various departments.
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The main goal of these presentations is for the team leaders to consolidate their accumulated know-how over the years on various topics. This way, they fill in knowledge gaps for their colleagues and also enrich our onboarding program and training program for new interns and junior staff.
- Time Management, Todor - Support Team Lead
- Why did the designer do this? Introduction to Figma for non-designer colleagues., Zori - UX/UI Designer Team Lead & Ив UX/UI Designer
- SEO Techniques in Stenik projects, Stefan - Human Being
- Ticket structure in new projects and its importance, Lyubo - Senior PM
- Order management optimization, Albert - PM Team Lead
- Automated testing applications, Jordan - QA Specialist
- Making Magento more accessible to a broader range of clients, Dimitar - Sales Director & Co-Owner
Bonus: Book of Wisdom, Stefan Chorbanov
Game #1: Icebreaker game - Stenik Bingo: Get to Know Me?
Rules: Each colleague received a sheet with a table containing facts in separate squares. The goal was for each person to fill in the name of a colleague who matches the description in the square. One mandatory rule was not to repeat any team member.
It was a lot of fun and we were able to get to know each other even better. It turns out to be challenging to distribute all the colleagues without repeating anyone or getting mixed up.
How the team enjoyed the SPA
At the spa center, the team's relaxation included the following tasks:
Fully immerse yourself so that only your nose feels cold;
Get Lara's hair wet;
Treat Toshko with a drink or two, then put it on Ivo's tab;
Boast on Facebook and Instagram about how amazing your team building is with #stenikteambuilding;
Kick a colleague out of the jacuzzi because it's your turn;
Teach Dimitar to swim, but maybe some another time.
At Arte, it becomes "pArte"!
After a successful day and relaxation in the relaxation zone, the team indulged in entertainment, eating, drinking and watching the 2022 World Cup of football.
Day 2: nature, games and gifts
It easy for the people in our team to want to leave their warm and cozy homes and start dreaming about an outdoor experience surrounded by greenery and fresh air. The favorable weather conditions allowed us to collectively experience the magic of the mountains through a light off-road hike in the pine forest.
Velingrad is situated in the most beautiful part of the Western Rhodopes, at the center of the Chepinska Valley - a unique place where the Rhodopes and Rila "touch." The surrounding nature was familiar to our manager, Stefan Chorbanov. That's why he took on the role of a guide and chose the route for our walk.
For those of you who are more curious, we'll share a more detailed description of the route we took
Starting from Arte, we headed towards the neighboring Spa hotel - Infinity. Just before reaching it, we took a forest trail that led us up into the pine forest, immersed in the woods. With brisk steps, we climbed to the top of the hill, a favorite grazing spot for cows and sheep. The trail then led us through the continuation of this picturesque terrain.
We enjoyed the view and the feeling of freshness, taking several photos along the way, which you can check out in the album on our Facebook page. After that, we continued our hike.
At many spots, we came across wooden tables with benches for resting or having a meal.
The trail, wide and adorned with amusing directional signs, led us to the area known as "Nikulova Tserkva" (or "Nikulova Church").
There, you'll find the chapel "St. Nicholas" - a holy place that dates back centuries. In close proximity to the chapel, there's also a gazebo with a place for a fire and abundant flowing water. So, if you thought ahead and brought some treats, you can sit down and relax.
From there, we followed the eco-trail to the area called "The Old Wheel". The name refers to a water-powered wheel. We continued back, passing by the chapel again and descending down the red trail, making our way down to the Belodrobna Hospital.
On our way back to the hotel, we passed through the Velingrad Residence and the beautiful area of Marina Livada. The newly constructed complex is impressive, and Stefan told us that during the summer, they have a functioning red tennis court, which we'd love to visit for a game.
With a normal pace, the entire route took us about 2 hours in astronomical time, but time flew by unnoticed as we enjoyed the experience and engaged in conversations. Once again, nature managed to surprise us with its creative spirit.
The sounds of the river and the breathtaking views are an irreplaceable elixir for the senses and the mind. The clean air and the connection with nature recharge you with new strength and vital energy, helping you gear up for new challenges. We certainly refreshed ourselves well during the walk and managed to discuss the team's desire for more frequent hikes and physical activity.
This year's Secret Santa
This year as well, we didn't miss the chance to surprise each other with personal gifts. Traditionally, each colleague draws the name of another to give a gift to, but no one knows whose name they've drawn, and consequently, who their gift is from. Everyone had a lot of fun and liked their gifts, with some even making use of them right away.
Stenik Santa also surprised the team with "gifts for the future" which colleagues with kids received for the youngest stenik4eta at home. Each little one got a LEGO set from the Hippoland store, for which we recently developed and updated an online store on Magento.
Game #2: Jeopardy-style quiz game
Rules: The team divides into teams with an equal number of participants. Each team has a captain and a name. Five categories, each containing questions of varying point values based on difficulty, are projected onto a screen for everyone to see. Participation in the game is through software with a button, where the fastest to click the button on their mobile device has the right to answer first. The other teams then follow in the order they joined. A correct answer earns the given points, while an incorrect answer deducts those points from the total. The team that provided the correct answer chooses the category and point value for the next question. The team with the most points wins.
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The Stenik team divided into 6 teams. The question categories were a mix of work-related and non-work-related topics, including History, Sports, Stenik's Clients, Magento, and Little-Known Life Facts.
All teams showcased knowledge in challenging questions, but we still had an outstanding winner.
In the afternoon hours of Day 2, we organized a mini table tennis tournament. Games of backgammon and chess were also among the activities, with some team members eagerly awaiting this opportunity for over 2 years to have their rematch.
We reminisced about the good old times when we used to gather in hotel rooms and play various association games as guests at our colleagues' rooms. Another part of the team preferred to laugh together over drinks and with aromatic hookah.
Well-rested, recharged and socially connected, we're heading back home!
The entire team is immensely satisfied with the time spent together. We managed to recharge for months ahead, but this doesn't diminish our desire to see each other more frequently. We already have plans for new collective activities in the near future. We return with new knowledge, ideas, and valuable best practices.
Here's what the team shared:
"The team building achieved its main goals - bringing the team closer together and having a great time with colleagues. Very useful presentations prepared by the team. The entire program was well-balanced. The walk was invigorating. The choice of the hotel was 6 out of 6 points - we lacked nothing. I'm grateful to be a part of Stenik; I feel right at home in this company :)"
Stanimir, Support Specialist & Assistant PM
The time we spent together amidst the beautiful Bulgarian nature rejuvenated us and energized us anew. We solidified the trust we've built among ourselves and learned new things about each other through the collective games we organized.
I'm grateful to have such awesome colleagues! It's fantastic that this time we were all together. Thank you for everything!
Dimitar, Support Specialist & Assistant PM
We managed to have fun in the unique Stenik way. The smiles on everyone's faces when we left spoke volumes.
We have the best team, and once again during the team building, I felt like I was with family and childhood friends.
Dimitar- Sales Director & Co-Owner
We have it! We're developing it! We're preserving it!
We also extend our gratitude to our kind hosts at Arte Spa & Park Hotel! One of our favorite relaxation and spa spots! An incredible atmosphere, a beautiful spa center, friendly staff, excellent cuisine, and service. You made our experience a true pleasure for our senses, spirit and body.
For dessert: a gallery with all the photos from our three-day adventure, which you can explore in the album on our Facebook page.