Every August we shut down the business to celebrate 1 week of Hullafest. This is a huge investment for the company, so why do we do it?
Most businesses talk about the importance of team bonding, organise a team away day and hope that their staff form connections and leave feeling more motivated.
We take a different approach.
Hullafest has existed as long as Hullabalook. Every year we stop the business and ask everybody to take a week out of the office to spend time together. Hullafest isn’t an opt-in activity, it’s compulsory for the whole team to attend (within reason!). Why? Because our company culture is shaped by the experiences, values and behaviours shared by a group of people, and we can’t build the culture we want unless everyone is committed to the cause.
There are 50 Hullabytes in our team. Considering the transport links, dietary requirements, interests and skillsets of 50 people is no mean feat. Our founders, Bryony and Barny, selflessly take full responsibility for organising Hullafest, and although it can be stressful for them, it feels really well organised and smooth for the rest of us.
Hullafest takes a lot of time, money and dedication. Taking a week out of the office when you’re scaling a tech company is hard - especially when it comes to telling customers in five continents that you’re unable to join calls for a week.
So with this in mind, how do the benefits outweigh the potential risks?
Here are 4 reasons why Hullafest has been, and will always be, worth it.
The majority of us are still experiencing a hybrid working environment, which makes team bonding even harder than before. It’s very easy for new starters to feel like ‘outsiders’ for longer, because they don’t spend everyday with their new colleagues. Hullafest provides us with an opportunity to spend quality time together, form connections and make memories.
Nobody feels pressured to have fun or talk to everyone (like they probably would during a team day). Conversations begin naturally, people feel relaxed and therefore get to know each other better.
Innovation comes from multi-disciplinary discussions, and as our tech team grows it's harder for this to happen because people often end up talking mostly to colleagues in their own departments. During Hullafest, Hullabytes are purposely placed within teams of people they don’t spend every day working with.
The activities we plan are very diverse - this year we organised a scavenger hunt around London, we built and launched rockets, we created graffiti art, we became captains of our own boats (& much more). By diversifying the activities, we try to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to feel good because they can apply their own unique skillsets to the tasks. By doing so, we all feel excited, yet challenged at the same time.
Retaining staff in a competitive environment is always tough. Our priority is giving each Hullabyte a great experience. If we’ve achieved that, then we've succeeded.
Every year after Hullafest we notice a big increase in team morale. People feel valued, they appreciate our efforts and therefore feel loyal to the company, increasing their time spent with us.
We drafted our cultural values in 2016 when the company first started. When we read them today, it’s amazing to see how much Hullafest epitomises each and every one of them. They are:
Hullafest happens once a year, but we’ve built a company culture whereby Hullabytes exemplify these values everyday. That's something to be proud of.
Until next year!