From Conga Lines to Cross-Departmental Collaboration: Cuebiq Retreat 2k18 in the Bahamas

By Anna Livaccari / 6 minutes

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A five-day trip to the Bahamas… for work? It sounds too good to be true, right? Well, for Cuebiq last week, this was our reality. Every year, Cuebiq hosts an annual company-wide retreat to a different location, and this year it was in Nassau, Bahamas, at the lovely Atlantis resort.

What exactly does one do at a company retreat to the Bahamas, you might ask? From team-building exercises to dynamic presentations to themed dinners, our days were full of different activities. Read on to learn about our experience in the Bahamas.

Bahamas Beach and Palm Tree

Connecting With Coworkers and Collaborating Cross-Departmentally

The theme of our retreat was “Cuebiq Connect,” so every event — from conference sessions during the day to social events at night — revolved around this concept. This past year, we more than doubled in size of our workforce, so as you might expect, not all of us knew each other well. On top of that, we work in NYC, Milan, San Francisco, and Chicago, so many of us were meeting for the first time at this retreat. As such, it was a fantastic opportunity both to bond with existing colleagues from other departments and to get to know new coworkers.

One exercise we did that facilitated this connection was called the Collaboration Marketplace. Our moderator, Ariel Halevi, worked with several Cuebiq employees to develop this game, which encouraged collaboration and communication across teams.

How did it work? Cuebiq employees were broken up into their respective departments, and then they received three “dollars” from a “bank” that they could submit to other teams in exchange for completing a request. For example, one team asked another to be brought along to client meetings with them once a month.

Collaboration Marketplace Bank

This was a really interesting exercise, because it forced teams to identify their top needs from other departments and then ask for them in a very direct way — without the typical obstacles of time differences or distractions. For me, it was really effective to think about how my team, marketing, could interact with teams we often don’t work with — such as product development, for example. This led to new ideas for collaboration that we might not have conceived before.

At the end of the exercise, each team presented a summary of the requests they had accepted, announcing their commitment to carrying out the requests in front of our whole company. This was a great way to hold teams accountable and help them identify their top needs from other departments. In the end, not only did this exercise reveal new ways for departments to save time by working together, but it also led to increased innovation across the company as a whole.

Collaboration Marketplace

Participating in Debate-Style Breakout Sessions

One of my favorite exercises we did was participate in debate-style breakout sessions. We selected topics of interest to us in advance, and then broke up into smaller groups based on those. Each session had a moderator, who structured a debate around the topic.

For example, I participated in a session focused on out-of-home advertising and Cuebiq’s place in that market. Cuebiq’s own SVP of Innovation & Strategic Partnerships, Lawrence Chan, moderated this session and started it off with an overview of the OOH market and Cuebiq’s OOH measurement product. Then, he divided us into two teams to debate a topic, one “pro” and one “con,” complete with opening statements, rebuttals, and closing statements.

In this exercise, what was interesting to me was that it really didn’t matter who won the debate — the purpose was more to get us thinking about both sides of an argument before reaching a decision. Moving forward, when our company is facing an important decision, structuring a debate around it would be a fantastic way to hear everyone’s perspective and come to a well-reasoned conclusion. This was a great takeaway, as I’d never thought of structuring a meeting as a debate before!

Debate-Style Breakout Session

Enjoying Team Themed Dinners and Social Events

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not talk about all the fun social events we participated in after the daily conference sessions. Let’s start with the themed dinners, of which there were four: Tropical Island Themed Dinner, White Party, Under-the-Sea Themed Dinner, and the Cuebiq Academy Awards. Our team went all out with the themes, from one employee wearing not just one but 10 leis for the Tropical night, to another wearing a snorkel to the Under-the-Sea Themed Dinner. We also went all out in dancing — the first night, a surprise band appeared at dinner playing all kinds of different instruments, and the Cuebiq team had no problem joining in to dance, even forming a conga line!

Tropical Themed Dinner Band

Perhaps my favorite night was the last, when we had our own version of the Academy Awards. Our CEO, Antonio, wore a top hat and gave out prizes to several Cuebiq employees — such as Most Frequent Ping Pong Player, Most Active on Slack, and Most Frequent Traveler. These awards were mostly lighthearted, but they still captured our company culture of fun, effective communication, and travel between our global offices.

This awards ceremony was a fantastic cap on our trip, and I still have the dulcet tones of the “L’amour Toujours” remix ringing in my head — which our DJ dubbed the “Cuebiq Song” — along with a mental image of our whole company fist-pumping and singing along together. Needless to say, I can’t wait to see what’s in store for our retreat next year!

About the Author

Anna Livaccari, Growth Marketing Manager

Anna is a Boston College grad, loves being outdoors, and is a huge foodie.