Every last person at Ingredient Brothers has returned from our journey to Morocco, where team members from all corners of the globe met without a screen between them for the first time. Our first conference was the culmination of their achievements.
We are a closely-knit team.
Our transition from virtual interactions to tangible reality proved to be fertile ground in Marrakesh. Living for five days in close quarters, our empathy deepened, and our shared mission, vision, and values came to life as tangibly as cumin and orange blossom hung in the air of that Moroccan produce market during our team-building activities.
Weeks after the trip, we asked our fully remote global team to answer a questionnaire based on the remote team-building strategy we had designed before the trip. We gathered some six awesome team insights that were worth sharing.
Team building insight 1: There is only one first time. Make it count.
What struck us as digital nomads was the impact of first-time encounters. The personal connection and sense of shared victory have enhanced our team’s cohesion and communication. It is easier to resolve conflicts, brainstorm ideas, and collaborate effectively. It’s as if the in-person experience added a layer of trust and empathy to our professional relationships.
While we understand that not all remote teams have the opportunity to meet in person, especially given the geographical distances involved, we highly recommend finding ways to facilitate meaningful face-to-face interactions when possible.
Why can we vouch for this insight?
I found it exciting getting to know people for who they are and not just what I’ve seen. It was splashing people with paint to add color. I was being proven right and wrong simultaneously in the best ways possible.“
Before the flight to Morocco, I told Fran, “We are about to meet for the first time; there is only one first time, and I’m nervous.” That first moment meeting everyone at the Villa felt special and marked the rest of the trip.”
I was distressed to hear stories about the bad treatment of employees in other countries. Creating a safe working environment for everyone is essential.”
Team building insight 2: Align department and company goals with an idea everybody FEELS
With so many cultures in the Ingredients Brothers melting pot, we needed a north star deeper than our individual cultures, ages, and job titles. Something that nobody knew how to pronounce at first, let alone understand. But everybody could feel it.
Honestly, I didn’t know the meaning of Ubuntu, even after joining the company. However, during the conference, Hila mentioned if that word can help a country thrive and make a lasting impact, then imagine what it can do for a company.”
Understanding our roadmap for success with the different initiatives outlined by each department and learning more about our personalities is all part of bringing the mission, vision, and values to life.”
The company has this strong value of Ubuntu, and getting to know the team, with their customs and stories, added to my context of each person. This later reflects on how one communicates, how I ask, seek help, and ask for a favor.”
Team building insight 3: Use the MBTI tool to improve communication between personality types
We adopted The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality assessment tool to improve communication in the workplace. For example, if you are working on a team with people of different MBTI types, you can use the MBTI to understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses and to develop a communication plan that works for everyone.
How did that go down in Marrakesh?
The MBTI exercise on how to approach different personality types, and putting these types on Slack, will be useful in improving our comm styles with the different personalities of our colleagues.”
Reflecting and reviewing everyone’s MBTI results was a great way to know everyone’s communication strategies and roles. Though personalities aren’t set in stone, it’s a nice gauge when communicating with others.”
Team building insight 4: Design and implement communication systems based on SOPs
As we expand and evolve, our need for standardized communication practices becomes greater. Everyone had been making informal adjustments to cope with our increasing success. And so another reason for Marrakesh was the opportunity to incorporate formalized processes to strengthen the bones of our communication as bulk suppliers and wholesale importers.
Particularly within our Product Team, the focus on creating and implementing communication systems based on Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) has been a valuable strategic initiative. These SOPs, crafted with our team members, hold the potential to optimize our communication methods, incorporating elements like task management and message conventions. At least, that’s what our product managers think.
I think as we grow, it is key that we set this SOP. It is already changing, though. At least, I am changing it. But formalizing it will help in bringing more order.”
Designing and implementing communication systems (task management, comments a la DM) based on SOPs designed by my fellow members of the Product Team seems valuable to me.”
Team building insight 5: The impact of team building events on work and communication
The recent conference in Marrakesh brought our team closer than ever before, fostering connections that transcended the confines of work-related discussions. While aligning with our company’s mission, vision, and values, we empathized with each other personally. After the buzz of our first Ingredient Brothers conference had died down, we asked some team members how they felt.
We also understood the pain points the team is dealing with. It was invaluable for me from a People perspective. Getting to know all of them, especially teams from a different Time Zone than me.”
Meeting in person removes several communication barriers. I didn’t think we had any major points in that area to improve on, but it has been significantly improved.”
Team building insight 6: Create bonds beyond business
Working together took on new meaning during a spirited football match between Ingredient Brothers and the locals. These experiences weren’t just about winning; they were about everyone working as a team, focused on one goal. It’s the core of company ethos.
We will be able to address work on a more detailed level. I think we also understood some of the pain points the team is dealing with. It was invaluable for me from a People perspective. Getting to know all of them, especially the PH team in another Time Zone than me.”
Understanding other motivations and meeting them in person removes several communication barriers. I don’t think we had any major points in that area to improve, but it has been significantly improved.”
Since BHAG, our meetings have taken on a different tone. Before we start, we check in with everyone, asking about their well-being and families. Our communication on Slack is no longer solely work-focused, and it’s less awkward during follow-ups or work-related matters.”
Bonus Team building insight: A conference is a great way to discover your company’s anthem
During our conference, we also asked everyone to pick a song that best represented our experience of the trip. We may have found a winner.
- Queen – Don’t Stop me now.
- I’ll be there for you by The Rembrandts (Friends series theme song)
- Bohemian Rhapsody
- Bohemian Rhapsody. I don’t think anything else needs to be said.
- Bohemian Rhapsody- just because we sang it so much
- Beautiful Day, U2
- Don’t stop me now.
- Rapsodia Bohemia
- I think this would be everyone’s choice but Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody
So long Marrakesh, but not goodbye
Building a remote global team capable of working together to simplify the supply chain and procurement process is a profound journey. We discovered not only the remarkable landscapes and rich culture of Morocco but also the strength that comes from unity.
We formed lasting bonds and found inspiration in the resilience of the communities we encountered. As we return to our respective corners of the world, we carry with us the spirit of collaboration, knowing that our shared goal, like the sunsets over the Sahara, will always bring us together, no matter the distance.
Can’t get hold of your next ingredient? First, take a look at our extensive product list here.
Then, get in touch with us. We’re here to help!