UP Kick off 2020 – a hybrid team gathering

This year our “goodbye” to the summer and “hello” to the new autumn season was in many ways different from the last Kick off session. For the first time in the agency’s history, the annual meeting was held on the 17th and 18th of September in two places – the wine and spa complex Starosel and at home via a Zoom connection. Our team’s health and well-being are and always will be UP’s top priority, thus we ensured that each team member felt comfortable attending the meeting whichever way they wanted, either in person or online.

Long time no see

Who knew that the month of March would change our lives so much. When Bulgaria went into lockdown on the 13th, each team member packed up their laptop and work phone, set up their own UP desk in the comfort of their home, and continued working hard through the entire epidemic. Face to face meetings turned to Zoom or Google Hangouts sessions, TGIM’s were celebrated at home, and lunch was eaten alone. “In the beginning, it was hard to be apart from our teams and to discuss tasks and issues only during conference calls. However, after several weeks we got used to the new reality. When this became our “normal” routine we focused on our work only and put aside for a bit the issue with the lack of daily face-to-face communication. Well, it turns out that every single team member of United Partners has missed this during the period of lockdown”, remarks Kristiyana Ognyanova, our Account Manager

The UP team hadn’t seen each other in 6 months. That is until the hybrid autumn Kick off meeting where half of the members attended in person at Starosel and the other half were present online. The rendezvous was heartfelt, to say the least. Lilly Ilcheva, our Junior Account Manager reflects on the touching and long-awaited moment: “It was so exciting and emotional! The personal contact is something that we currently appreciate a lot more than before. It felt like we are getting back from summer vacation at school. You cannot wait to meet your mates and you want to spend days and hours, sharing what you have experienced and had been through during that time”.

The communication industry’s bottleneck

Our industry is evolving each and every second and the pandemic contributed even more to creating new goods and services in tone with the distancing policies. During the autumn Kick off the team had the chance to discuss the communication industry’s bottlenecks – the points of congestion in the workflow that can slow down productivity and the business as a whole.

“When you work for a certain period by yourself, you tend to get encapsulated in your daily ongoing struggles, so you don’t see the bigger picture. The innovation workshop was a nice exercise because we worked in groups and we got the chance to discuss bigger problems for the marketing industry locally and globally. While working on examples from other businesses we managed to take out the same issues that we are facing – a small market, a lot of competitors, a need for constant innovations,”, commented Kristiyana.

Power UP the team spirit

It’s no secret that the lockdown caused by COVID-19 took a physical and mental toll on almost everybody. Six months spent at home, in uncertain times and socially distanced from our friends, family, and colleagues can for sure wear us out. That’s why UP’s autumn 2020 Kick off involved not only business and innovation workshops but lots of group activities as well. In tune with Starosel’s location and positioning as a wine and spa complex, there were winery tours and aromatherapeutic relaxation sessions for the team members. “The most exciting and empowering one was the drum activity, where we were all involved in something really amazing, that ended beautifully and truly enlightening for us. We actually experienced the idea of how really important are the individual contribution and team commitment”, exclaimed Lilly Ilcheva.

Moreover, the agency’s clients surprised the UP team too, as Kristiyana Ognyanova reflects: “I was pleasantly surprised by the videos shot by our clients in which they expressed their gratitude and appreciation towards our work and efforts to support their business growth. We have the best clients ever!”.

 The last days of summer were sent on a bon voyage under the pleasant sound of music, a cocktail in each hand, and a heart, warmed with memories.