For a fun and impactful team-building event I highly suggest hosting a hackathon. These can be casual half-day events or full-blown multi-week-long contests. No matter the size everyone involved can benefit from the exercise of developers coming together to solve challenges.
Sogeti hosts several local and global contests a year and the participants learn teamwork, get to practice or learn new skills, and often result in innovative solutions that solve real-world problems. Early in my career, I was involved in hackathons as a participant but now as a senior employee l usually find myself in the role of advisor or judge. Recently though I was able to gain experience first-hand the joys and rewards of competing in hackathons when I participated in an event hosted by Salesforce called the Legends of Low Code. The Legends of Low Code randomly paired up teams of three strangers and gave them the challenge to build a solution in Salesforce.
This experience reminded me of why hackathons are so beneficial to both the participants and the company overall. Here are the three core benefits of hosting hackathons at your company.
In a hackathon, there is no manager telling you what to do. There is no manager to go to if you have issues or conflicts. Instead, hackathons allow for self-forming teams where the members decide what to focus on. This is a powerful way to learn first-hand how to set goals and divide up work. It empowers everyone to share their ideas. They succeed or fail as a team.
Hands-on learning is a critical part of a hackathon. A hackathon is a safe place to learn new skills or increase experience in their current area. An employee can try out new platforms and new languages that they are not normally exposed to during their normal working hours. This exposure to new technologies may inspire employees on their career paths. Employees with additional skills can really come in handy on future projects.
Hackathons allow dozens of team members to swarm around problems and come up with innovative solutions. For that reason, many hackathons center around real problems. In my Salesforce hackathon, we delivered solutions for a real nonprofit. Knowing we were not just building for fun but for real people made it much more meaningful. Similarly, the Sogeti hackathons have tackled real-world problems such as using AI to identify critical data points during a pandemic.
In summary, hackathons are a win-win-win. Companies develop their staff, employees get to explore areas of interest and real-world problems are solved. If it has been a while since you have held a hackathon start organizing one now and get ready to reap the benefits.