Last week, over 750 Personios from across Europe flew to Munich to spend a week together for the first time in nearly two years. The first-ever All Company Culture Week brought us together: five days for teams to meet, collaborate, strategize, plan, and celebrate in person. Like many companies, we’ve hired new employees during the pandemic. In fact, we’ve nearly doubled in size in 2021 alone – which means half or more of our new hires onboarded remotely. For most of us, All Company Culture Week was the first opportunity to meet each other face-to-face and hold a conversation that wasn’t through a computer screen.
Planning and Preparation
Given that the idea for #ACCW was born just a few months ago, COVID was the number one topic as we brainstormed if we could, or should, plan a week-long event that involved flying hundreds of people into Munich from all over Europe. To help us assess our options and create a safe and effective hygiene concept, we partnered with a medical professional who specializes in COVID safety. Under their guidance we designed a no-holds-barred hygiene concept involving masks, social distancing, hand sanitizer, and thousands of tests.
Each morning before entering the office, every single employee took a rapid test before checking in to ensure we could contact trace if necessary. For our Values Day activities, held at a hybrid indoor-outdoor event facility in the south of Munich, we added another essential safety layer and hired a testing company to administer PCR tests to each employee. In addition, employees also took rapid tests before entering the venue that morning.
And, naturally, the entire hygiene concept was submitted to and approved by the German government before All Company Culture Week began. As #SocialResponsibility is one of our core values, we were committed to only hosting this event if it could be done safely and responsibly – not just for our employees, but for our fellow humans across Europe and the world.
With our event approved and prepped, we sent out the first of many surprises to our Personios: a branded invitation package shipped straight to their doors. Inside was a special #ACCW t-shirt, printed invitations with information about the upcoming week, and hand sanitizer (of course). It also included a travel-size bottle of sunscreen for the beautifully sunny outdoor event we had planned, but the branded umbrellas turned out to be a much bigger hit that day!
The #ACCW Experience
At Personio, few things are as important to us as our culture and values. And while our team has done a great job of continuing to live those values remotely, there’s nothing quite like coming together to reaffirm our culture and grow together. #ACCW was designed as an opportunity for all Personios to come together, meet in person, and be fully immersed in what we’re about and why we work the way we work. To meet this goal the days were divided between standard work, team time, and events and activities for join as individuals, a group, or a full company.
Monday kicked off with an optional HIIT workout before breakfast and time for out-of-town Personios to show up and settle in to the Munich office. Interspersed with normal working mode were office tours and photo shoots for anyone who wanted a new head shot. We ended the day with one of Personio’s infamous pub quizzes, a family-friendly affair with food, drinks, music, and trivia.
Tuesday was dedicated to team work, allowing international teams to plan, collaborate, and strategize together. Office tours and photo shoots also continued throughout the day. To end the working day, we hosted a culture-focused Ask Me Anything session, moderated by CEO Hanno Renner, with panelists from multiple teams and offices.
Wednesday started off bright and early with PCR tests outside of the office, followed by the opening matches of our fiercely-contested table tennis and foosball tournaments. But this day was also set aside as an Impact Day, an opportunity for teams to leave the office and live out our value of #SocialResponsibility by making an impact on our society or environment.
Each Personio has two paid Impact Days per year to put toward a cause that is important to them, and multiple employees and teams chose to make an impact together on Wednesday with various charities and projects throughout Munich. That evening we hosted an optional yoga session before teams headed out to enjoy the city. And we finished the day with the best news: our testing company informed us that every single PCR test was negative!
Thursday was dedicated entirely to our company values. Personios showed up to our venue, Sugar Mountain, for rapid tests administered by yet another testing company. Once they received their negative result, they entered the outdoor space to enjoy breakfast and coffee from food trucks scattered around the property. Although the weather proved wet and chilly, our Personios gamely bundled up in rain gear and sat under umbrellas or open-air tents to hear our keynote speakers.
The four presentations on Values Day naturally focused on our core purpose of Enabling Better Organizations and our values of #Ownership, #CustomerEmpathy, and #SocialResponsibility. Multiple members of our leadership team, including CEO Hanno Renner, Chief People Officer Ross Seychell, CFO Birgit Haderer, Chief Product Officer Roman Schumacher, and COO Jonas Rieke, presented or took part in the afternoon’s Ask Me Anything session. (And while we can’t spoil anything yet, Hanno also made a few major surprise announcements with both internal and external impact – so get excited!)
These presentations were interspersed with group breakout sessions, lunch (from yet more food trucks!), team and all-company pictures, and customizable Personio swag. Providing an excellent musical backdrop to this experience was the self-formed and lovingly-dubbed Personio Band, plus a spectacular solo cover of Tina Turner’s “You’re Simply the Best” by Junior Product Expert Lika Misevich. Then, to wrap up the day in true Personio style, we enjoyed dinner and drinks outside together.
Friday was an opportunity for Personios to sleep in and rest up. The day started with multiple Bavarian traditions: an optional morning ice bath in the river, followed by a Bavarian brunch where many Personios wore their dirndl or lederhosen – our own mini version of Oktoberfest! The rest of the morning and afternoon were spent in final team meetings and working time together, before we finished up with our usual end-of-week all-team meeting to celebrate our week together.
Onward and Upward
After the final day of #ACCW it was time to say “goodbye for now” to our international teammates, bringing an excellent week of #Teamspirit and #Fun to a close. While it was a big change to be around so many people for the first time in nearly two years, the opportunity to see each other face-to-face was invaluable both as people and as Personios charged with improving and growing our culture.
For new joiners it was the chance to see our values in action, through individual contributions as well as the company-wide presentations and activities. For legacy Personios, those who joined before the pandemic, #ACCW represented a new beginning and a chance to feel that electric Personio energy once more.
Bringing this event together was a true team effort. Multiple members of our Office Management, Leadership, and People Experience teams worked for months to plan and execute #ACCW. And while most of us are still recovering from last week’s high-energy experience, we’re already looking forward to the next All Company Culture Week! Don’t miss out – we’re hiring talented, driven people for multiple teams across the organization. Head to our careers page and apply today!
About The Author
Cassandra Hoermann has been leading Personio’s Employer Branding & Culture efforts since 2018. In that time, Personio has gone from 100 to nearly 1,000 employees and her efforts have helped attract top talent to the team. A sports enthusiast, foodie, and a people person through and through, Cassandra is an expert at connecting with people and bringing them together, too.
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