A Team Retreat in France with VSHN’s Team Pollux

8. Oct 2021

Last September eight members of VSHN’s Team Pollux took the opportunity to organize a yearly team building event, and we’d like to brag about it a little. The choice of destination fell on Moirans-en-Montagne, a charming town in France, not far from the Swiss border.

Friday on the road

The trip there took us through beautiful green wooded hills. Even though another Team (thank you, Team Sirius!) took over our Operation tasks this day, some people couldn’t resist to check on our services.

#CarOps is real

Once arrived we were greeted by the caretaker, who gave us a tour of our weekend villa; a lucky find on Airbnb. It turned out to be unexpectedly maze-like, but in the end we didn’t spend too much time inside anyway. The swimming pool and pool house (complete with a fireplace!) as well as the nearby Via Ferrata would be the focus of our attention for the next two days.

But first we had to take care of our grumbling tummies. A shopping task force automatically assembled itself and headed for the local supermarket. Last-minute shopping additions were remotely added via group chat, the whole thing felt very effortless. The same was true for the evening’s BBQ preparations: one person went to find an axe to chop wood with, someone prepared a salad, others scoured the house for the least mismatched cutlery and plates. One delicious BBQ later we dipped into the pool as the night illumination came on and the full moon rose above us.

An inviting swimming pool

There was never a big central master plan for any of this, yet it all worked out swimmingly (hah).

A sunny Saturday

After Saturday’s brunch (French croissants are delicious!) exactly half the team split off for a climbing adventure above Lac de Vouglans.  Nobody ended up causing a rescue operation (smile) Instead the group enjoyed a spectacular view and thanks to excellent timing didn’t get (too) scorched by the sun.

Hang on tight
Gorgeous panorama
Team building

The groups joined back up again at the pool, in time for late afternoon poolside drinks (and Swiss-German lessons). We were extremely lucky with the weather as the original forecast predicted a rainy Saturday. Instead we enjoyed swimming all evening in summer’s last rays of sunshine, and then prepared another extensive BBQ in the pool house.

Time for a good barbecue

Just like the day before, the team coordinated without many words: some cut vegetables, others chopped wood and prepared the fire, or washed dishes and set the table. It was remarkable how the agile mindset seems to have seeped into our brains so much that it’s applied automatically even to everyday chores.

Once the party heated up a little, and everyone had had their singing juice, we sang 90s songs deep into the night, played card games, and of course made use of the pool again for some night swimming.

It seems like none of us had the urge to talk about, or even touch technology very much during these days. The villa offered two TVs and we had multiple Nintendo Switches on hand but they all remained switched (haha) off. Instead we had card games, singing, swimming, and long discussions.

A lazy Sunday

Sunday meant we had to depart. At least the weather had turned drizzly and gray so it would be easier to say goodbye to our villa. Cleaning up was just as smooth and easy as everything else this weekend. Everyone swarmed and barely an hour later we were ready to go. We made a last valiant attempt to get rid of the leftover ice cream (by getting it into our stomachs) and drove off.

We’d like to thank VSHN for making this weekend possible. All of us feel that it brought the team closer together. We can’t wait to see what teambuilding activities the other VSHN teams come up with!

What we learned about organizing our own team building event:

  • You don’t actually need to plan that much if you’re used to agile thinking. Picking a good location was the hardest part.
  • Coaching and focused exercises are fine team building instruments. But it seems like organizing something, such as cooking, eating, singing and doing sports together, also makes for fine team glue.

Ramon Cahenzli

Ramon Cahenzli is a DevOps Engineer at VSHN.

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