This September, sennder employees from across Europe came together to connect and work side by side in Sicily as part of sennder’s third summer camp. Check out the video below to experience sennder in Sicily, and read the blog to learn more about how and why this event took place!
A year of large-scale expansions and adaptation calls for celebration
Last year was full of unexpected challenges, but for sennder it was also a year of substantial growth.
Since January 2020, sennder has expanded its business in big ways. We opened a new office in Riga, Latvia and successfully merged with Everoad. We also embarked on a joint venture with Poste Italiane and acquired Uber Freight’s European business. This growth resulted in the opening of additional new offices in Paris, Milan, and Amsterdam, as well as the quadrupling of our number of employees. Finally, we launched our green business.
We managed all of that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, which pushed us to adopt new habits like working from home and meeting online. It also meant that most new employees were working with colleagues they hadn’t met face to face.
As restrictions eased up this year, sennder founders saw an opportunity to reinstate a former sennder tradition - summer camp! We wanted to celebrate sennder’s recent successes and give employees a chance to connect with both their teams and their colleagues from across Europe. It was important for everyone to finally see faces offscreen and form bonds in the real world.
“My favorite part was seeing people connect - old friends who have not seen each other for almost two years, and also colleagues who have been working together remotely and then met for the first time,” said Saskia Bille, senior principal, people experience. “That carried through the whole week when everyone came together to work, brainstorm, discuss and celebrate.”
Summer camp organizers worked hard to set the stage for success
Beside setting a place - Sicily! - and dates to host the camp, organizers had to ensure that the camp had a solid hygiene plan for preventing COVID-19 infections. Fortunately, most of the sennder team is fully vaccinated. To be extra safe, everyone also tested before leaving for Sicily.
After arrival, sennder team members didn’t have direct contact with anyone from outside the camp. This was a hygiene precaution, but it also eliminated outside distractions and ensured we had plenty of time to bond with each other.
Sicily made for a perfect, private seaside escape. There was a private beach, a pool, an arena, and working areas with views overlooking it all. There were also rooms equipped with large screens and tables for office work, as well as areas for sports. Team members especially enjoyed hiking up a nearby hill with an amazing view.
“It was the perfect place to watch the sunset together with your colleagues,” said Raquel Camacho, team lead of communications.
Work, sports, food, and play - all part of the sennder summer camp experience
Between work, meals, and group activities, there was certainly no shortage of things to do at camp. Some chose to wake up with a sunrise hike, whereas others slept soundly until breakfast. Likewise, some leapt at the chance to swim in the ocean during their lunch break, while others preferred to play tennis or just relax by the pool.
During working hours we made sure to live up to our value, keep on truckin’, by staying productive and keeping up with work. In the mornings and afternoons, most people brought their laptops out to one of the shared work spaces. Those who worked on the beach bar terrace enjoyed the view of the ocean.
Sharing spaces allowed us to meet people from other teams and country offices. We also had the pleasure of seeing colleagues in person that we may have emailed, messaged, or even video called with many times before.
“One of my biggest take-aways was hearing people say, ‘oh I finally got to meet so-and-so and they were even nicer in person,” said David Nothacker, sennder co-founder and CEO.
A friendly competition inspired new ideas for improving sennder products
The sennder hackathon premiered as part of summer camp in 2019. It was such a success that the organizers knew it had to be part of summer camp 2021.
The core idea behind the competition was to encourage participants to think creatively and challenge themselves to come up with innovative ideas that could improve sennder products.
All sennder employees, plus remote participants like freelancers and contractors, were able to participate in the hackathon. Ultimately 93 participants signed up to compete in teams of four to six people over the course of the two-day event.
“I was thrilled to see how people were still really excited about the hackathon and engaged with their teams, even on the second day,” said Adithi Sodhi, engineering manager who helped to organize the event.
Finally, a panel of judges evaluated each team’s final product according to three categories: innovation, business impact, and tech value. Two winning teams were selected - one from each week of the summer camp - and their ideas will likely be implemented into sennOS, specifically into the orcas sennder marketplace.
Hopefully these newfound hacks will improve our customers’ experience. In this way, the hackathon embodied another sennder core value, to put customers first.
Employees gained connections with members of their teams and others across Europe
Ultimately, sennder summer camp 2021 was a huge success. Over 600 employees finally got a chance to connect through shared rooms, work spaces, experiences, and meals. People from all teams walked away happy to have met new colleagues and also to have seen some of the faces that they’d previously only known through computer screens.
“This trip was a huge thank you to our team for two crazy years of growth, expansion, and continuous reinvention,” said Nico Schefenacker, sennder co-founder and managing director.
If you’re interested in learning more about sennder, our culture, and open positions, go to our career site HERE.