Our non-Scrum habits - How do we Create a Dynamic Work Culture?
September 12, 2023
In the fast-paced world of software development and project management, adopting agile methodologies like Scrum is the norm. But here at ULAM LABS, we're trying to trodden our own practical path.In fact, this path is already pretty much paved!
We've discovered that blending the tried-and-true Scrum practices with innovative, non-Scrum habits can transform a workplace into a hive of productivity and energy. In this article, we'll take you on a journey through some non-Scrum practices that have breathed new life into our team dynamics. Now that we have your curiosity, it's time for the evidence!
Habit 1: Walking Breaks
Why Walking Breaks?
Walking breaks are a deliberate pause from work, allowing team members to step away from their desks and clear their minds. Unlike walking meetings, the goal isn’t to discuss work but to rejuvenate and foster casual interactions.
Implementation at ULAM LABS
Our walking breaks are a regular 15-20 minute daily routine. Team members are encouraged to take a stroll around our office neighborhood - they have even booked a break in the calendar. The rule is simple: no work talk, just a mental break.
Our daily walks allow us to take our minds off work and the office for a while. During the walk, we talk about various things, sometimes work-related, and sometimes just about life and our ideas. Clearing our heads like this means that we come back to work with a fresh mind and work better later in the day! - Basia Trybulińska, PM at ULAM LABS
Why are walking breaks great?
Walking breaks offer a mental refreshment that often leads to incidental creative breakthroughs. They also offer an avenue for team members to interact on a personal level - we talk about our hobbies, plans, movies or books we recently read. However, these breaks require smart scheduling to ensure they don't disrupt workflow.
Habit 2: Retrospective Breakfast for the Whole Team
The Idea Behind Retrospective Breakfasts
Who said retrospectives can only happen in a conference room? And remember that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? Only good things must surely come out of this combination! We've moved our retrospectives out of the boardroom and into local breakfast spots. This setting not only makes the retrospectives more enjoyable but also invites open and relaxed discussion among team members.
How it Works
Rather than using boards and sticky notes to categorize what went well or what didn’t, the retrospectives at ULAM LABS are now open discussions held over breakfast at a local restaurant.
Our team has found these off-site retrospective breakfasts to be a catalyst for more honest and thoughtful feedback. Team members feel more at ease, and as a result, the quality of discussions has improved.
A retro-breakfast is not just a moment of rest and integration, but above all, a way to have a more open and less formal exchange of thoughts. Thanks to this form of meetings, we gain a new perspective on our challenges and goals. We have the opportunity to look at our projects not only through the prism of a desk, but also over coffee and croissants - and this refreshes our approach incredibly! - Marcela Rutkowska, Project Manager
Habit 3: Company-Wide Lunch Every Thursday
Thursdays at ULAM LABS mean more than just another day at the office. They are our designated days for company-wide lunches that aim to boost cross-departmental interaction. It’s an excellent time for team bonding, but also for departments to mix. Just like the most outstanding fusion cuisine dishes!
Food has a unique way of uniting people! :) But seriously, it's among my most cherished rituals. Even those who typically work remotely make their way to the office for this. ULAMERS from different teams or departments sit together and enjoy a meal. We spend some quality time together talking about different things. The company is great, the food is delicious, what more could one ask for? - Ania Matuszak, Head of People
Habit 4: Warm-Ups Before Difficult Meetings
The Idea Behind Warm-Ups
We've introduced a series of warm-ups, in the form of pun competitions or GIF tournaments, to lighten the mood before challenging or intense meetings.
Before a difficult meeting starts, team members engage in a brief 5-10 minute session where they either share puns or participate in a GIF tournament. The aim is to ease tension and prepare everyone for the discussion ahead.
In our team’s world, one can say we are traditionalists but we try to keep things refreshingly down-to-earth. We might not be the champions of avant-garde activities like walking meetings, but that doesn’t mean we don’t sprinkle a bit of camaraderie into our gatherings. When we’re gearing up for those intricate talks, we team up with our in-office buddies to whip up some seriously delicious buttery popcorn, spreading an air of comfort and togetherness. But let’s not stop there. Our meetings kick off with a prelude that’s all about fun—once GIF showdowns, now a medley of puns—pumping up the interaction and making sure every voice gets a turn in the spotlight. By blending the best of commonness and innovation, our team spins a web of collaboration, reminding us that shared moments, whether they’re over snacks or wordplay, weave the strong bonds that keep us moving forward. - Alicja Włodarska, Project Manager at ULAM LABS
Navigating the ULAM LABS Way
While established frameworks like Scrum offer valuable guidelines, they are not the be-all and end-all of teamwork and productivity. We've found that blending Scrum with our own custom, non-Scrum habits allows us to build a work culture that is as agile as the solutions we create.
Join the Innovation
Are you intrigued by what you've read? Do walking breaks, retrospective breakfasts, company-wide lunches, and creative warm-ups before difficult meetings sound like practices that resonate with you?
If you are looking for an environment that values both traditional frameworks and innovative approaches, then ULAM LABS could be your next professional home. Visit our careers page to explore current openings. We look forward to innovating with you!