If you’ve been a member of the Knackosphere for a while, then you know that Knack hasn’t always been a remote company.
Like many organizations across the world, we decided to go fully remote in the midst of COVID-19. It wasn’t an overnight decision – or an easy one for that matter. It involved late nights and long conversations with members across the team. While going remote has been one of the best business decisions we’ve made, there are still times where we miss working side by side in our office on Franklin Street.
So, you can imagine our excitement at the prospect of being able to meet, in person, with the ever-growing Knack Pack for the first time last month.
Here’s how we made it happen in less than a month (and how you could, too!).
What’s in a name?
The first, and arguably most time-consuming, part of the process was to decide on a name – yes, we took this very, very seriously. Our team had been asking for this for a long time, and wanted to create an experience they could rally around. So, selecting the right name, and corresponding theme, was paramount.
After much deliberation, “Knack 3D” was selected as the final contender. Given this would be the first time the Knack Pack would meet in real life after going 100% virtual in 2020, and doubling our headcount, it was very fitting.
Location, location, location
Once we figured out what we were calling this, it was time to figure out where we would actually have it. While most of our team is still located in and across Florida, we now have a sizable squad based in North Carolina and other employees in Georgia, Texas and Illinois, and even Mexico City. As such, infrastructure was a serious consideration (e.g., major airport, solid transportation, plethora of hotels and co-working spaces to choose from, etc.). Everything else, by our accounts, was gravy.
Eventually, we settled on Atlanta. The location itself was central enough to be convenient for members of our team to fly into, and it gave us the chance to experience a great city together.
From there, our Marketing and Design teams created a special logo for the event to be used on complimentary merchandise for the event – we’re not the type of people to ever turn down a branding opportunity.
We set some big, hairy, audacious goals for 2022. Going into K3D, it was important to our CEO to keep the team focused around key guiding prompts throughout the week to further synchronize everyone:
- How can we increase our impact? Internally? Externally?
- How can we create delightful moments? For partners? For users? For ourselves?
The goal? To ensure alignment across departments and encourage a mutual understanding on how far we’ve come, where we’re going, and how we can work together to get there – while becoming best friends in the process.
Well, more than we already were.
Balance is key
These types of events can be draining – mentally and physically. While we often joke about many of our team members’ resemblances to the Energizer Bunny, we didn’t want anyone to put it to the test at K3D. Striking a balance between work and free/social time was very important to us, so we divided each day accordingly:
DAY #1 - Reporting for Duty
- Arrive in Atlanta, check-in at the hotel, find a cool spot to eat lunch/work/chill
- Secret group activity @ Piedmont Park
- Team dinners/free time
DAY #2 - Congregation + Collaboration
- Breakfast + arrive to conference room
- Team Presentations
- Quick break
- Group brainstorm activity
- Quick break
- Group photo at Ponce City Market
- Free time/group dinners
DAY #3 - Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye
- Breakfast + arrive to conference room
- Team huddles/work time
- Internal Speaker Series
- Quick break
- CEO Presentation and closing remarks
What is a technology company without a little gamification, after all?
If there’s one thing our Knack Pack loves, it’s Knack Pack swag.
Every member of the team received a Knack 3D T-Shirt and tote bag at the event, along with some limited edition stickers, but that wasn’t enough for us. We wanted to up the ante. We wanted to create an engaging experience for our team, the same way we do for the tutors and students using our app.
Prior to K3D, we split everyone into four teams, but we kept the why a secret until we landed.
On Day #1, we let everyone know they needed to meet with their teams in the lobby of our hotel for the first of our group activities – an Amazing Race style trek to one of Atlanta’s most iconic landmarks, Piedmont Park. Clues about our meetup spot were posted on Slack, and points were awarded to teams in the order in which they arrived.
On Day #2, the teams were tasked with brainstorming answers to our two guiding prompts. They were given an hour and a half to put their heads together, after which all of the ideas were presented to a panel of judges consisting of our Chief Technology Officer, Chief Product Officer, Chief Operating Officer, and Vice President of Partnerships, who voted on their favorite ideas.
Members of the team with the most points from these activities were awarded a $75 credit to our Knack Store.
Bringing in the experts
When we first started concepting an agenda, we waffled back and forth with the idea of bringing in an outside speaker. We made a list of potential candidates, but ultimately chose to showcase the expertise we already had in house. After all, why shouldn’t we?
We’re fortunate to have a diverse team with a wide range of backgrounds and previous personal and professional experiences. So, we chose a secret select group of Knack Packers, who we don’t normally get the chance to hear from, to do a presentation on a topic of their choosing.
This didn’t just provide our team with valuable insights and information to take away from K3D — it provided the speakers with the opportunity to introduce themselves beyond what they do for Knack.
More than a building
By all accounts, K3D passed with flying colors. Our team had a great time, we learned a lot about each other, how we fit into the grand scheme of Knack, and we returned to our home offices ready to tackle those big, hairy, audacious goals head-on.
A part of us will always miss working together at the office on Franklin Street. But if there’s anything we learned from K3D, it’s that Knack – its essence, its culture, its very being – is so much more than a building.
It’s the mission. It’s the mindset. It’s the people.
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