Getting creative with internal events: taking teambuilding to the next level


Every year, YSofters around the world come together to celebrate the company’s birthday. We call this annual event Scandal, we’ll let you imagine where the name came from! Pre-Covid, this was an opportunity for YSofters from all regions to meet in person, listen to our CEO’s strategic presentation, enjoy team-building activities, and have some fun. 

Every year at Scandal the Marketing team always organizes something unique, memorable, and extraordinary, such as the time they hired out castle ruins for a private concert. As expected, COVID has impacted our internal events, so we had to get even more creative this year. I like to be inspired by other companies' internal events, so I decided to share our experience of this year's event with you.

We carried out an internal survey that showed YSofters were tired of the usual online events on Zoom, MS Teams, and so on. Unfortunately, worldwide travel was not an option, so we were going to have to meet online after all. We had already run Scandal as an MS Teams session last year when the pandemic first hit. However, we don’t easily give up and, inspired by some other companies, we got creative. Our aim was to deliver, as close as possible, the same experience as if we celebrated in person. Our to-do list was ready: 

Theme & story of the event 

It has been a tradition that we have an overarching theme which links all aspects of the event and influences all decisions relating to it. Because the theme is so central to the entire event it is always the very first task on the list. The theme is always chosen from something that happened in the previous fiscal year and marks an important milestone or topic. This time we chose the theme “Sailing the high seas”. During this year, Y Soft experienced many challenges including a global pandemic, the transformation of the R&D department, and the move of our product into the Cloud.
In our case, the theme has been always represented by a funny story, in which we try to fit in the topics from the previous year. Also, Y Soft’s founding fathers tend to play a main role in the story. After a few brainstorming sessions and plenty of creative work, we came up with our story. Our CEO finds a message in a bottle when walking on the shore of the Brno dam. It gives him the coordinates of a treasure island – in our case this was the Island of Clouds (a real island called Bequia). We were ready to set sail.

The story was narrated in three video teasers and several other communications like internal articles, invitations, and instructions. In all materials, we used nautical phrases and language for authenticity. The story continued during the event itself and concluded with a final ceremony.



Event graphics 

After we came up with the main theme, the next step was the visual elements.  Every event has its own logo which is used on every piece of material for it. As such, it is always worth starting logo design early in the planning process. The graphics we would need included: 
  • Small pictures /elements which are needed for giveaways 
  • Style, font, colors
  • Elements & graphics needed for the virtual world 

3D Virtual world 

To create a virtual space for our event we chose to work with Confer-o-Matic, a company that creates an interactive 3D virtual space for online events. Here are some reasons why we decided to use this virtual world:
  • You can choose from a list of virtual spaces which are already created. These can be customized as needed.
  • The application needed to connect to the virtual world is available for both Windows and macOS.
  • You don´t need any VR headsets but the app is quite demanding on the graphic card of your computer and requires a stable internet connection. 
  • Confer-o-Matic provides you with a link where you will download the app of the virtual world available for both Windows and Mac.
  • Once you sign up, you can choose what your avatar looks like.
  • We chose different avatars for organizers who had a ‘CREW’ sign on the shirt, making them easily recognizable. We chose different avatars for our company founders as well. These avatars weren´t available for the rest of the company to use.
  • Above the head of your avatar is your name. Because we wanted YSofters to be easily identified,  their full name was shown without the option to change it. 
  • Controlling the avatar is the same as in a regular online game. You can walk, run, jump, dance, or even fly!

The theme of our event was “Sailing the high seas”, therefore we chose a virtual world called Treasure Island. Since we have colleagues all over the world, from Kobe in Japan to San Francisco in the US, we cover many time zones. Therefore, the island was “opened” for YSofters to enjoy from 9 AM until 9 PM CET.  


You can customize what your virtual world will look like without help from Confer-o-Matic, some need modifications. For example, you can choose if you need one stage, two stages, or none. You can decide how many booths, chat zones, and billboards you need. All this depends on the package you choose from Confer-o-Matic. Our ‘Island of Clouds’, as we called it, contained:  

The Main stage: This was used for the main highlights of the day. If you are not a professional in streaming, I recommend you involve a third party with this. The feeling from the event will be more professional and for you, it means less stress. 

Before the event, we already knew that not everybody will be able to join or watch all the highlights live. Therefore, all main stage content was recorded and later made available to all YSofters.  
  • Fireside chat between our CEO Václav Muchna and CEO of Česká Spořitelna, Tomáš Salomon. They discussed the agile transformation of Česká Spořitelna as Mr. Salomon and his colleagues successfully implemented an agile approach to delivery management within a bank. This topic is highly relevant for us right now as our R&D department is in the middle of a transition. 
  • Strategic presentation. Our CEO discussed the financial results of the previous FY, what we learned this FY, and what we need to change. Because of the time zones, we held this strategic presentation twice a day to ensure that all of our subsidiaries had the opportunity for live Q&A sessions. 
  • Interview with Reena Sattar from Doctors without Borders. This was our chosen charity for this Scandal. Reena connected with us directly from the field as she was currently in Yemen on her 12th mission there. 
  • Bartender show. We asked the team at the Brno-based bar ‘4pokoje’ to create a signature drink for us called ‘Scandal’. We provided ingredients for the drink to YSofters in advance and during the event, we showed them how to prepare the drink. Cheers!
  • Live DJ music. Our famous colleagues Dutch DJ duo Chris & Martijn entertained us with some tracks. 

Each booth contains two screens. You can upload a video, link to a browser, or have a picture there. In the booth, you are also able to chat. Once you step into the booth, your mic and camera turn on automatically so everyone can see and hear you. We used three booths for the following purposes: 
  • Y Soft info booth – on the screens we showed the main event information such as the agenda, contacts for technical help, and we also had two colleagues dedicated to providing information in the booth and helping people. 
  • Cryptomania info booth – a company called Cryptomania covered team-building activities in the virtual world for us. We dedicated one booth for their representatives so YSofters were able to stop by for advice and instructions about the games. You can find out more about the games we played here
  • Bartender's stand – after the bartender show on the main stage, a bartender from 4pokoje joined us on the stand for a Q&A session and an informal chat about drinks and pubs.

Chat zones
We had zones all around the virtual world dedicated to chatting. These work the same as booths. We used panels in the chat zones for information about teambuilding games. You can easily change the text on them during the event. The chat zones were helpful for teams trying to solve the riddles around the virtual world.

We used these as static providers of all kinds of information such as a map of the island, agenda, information about teambuilding activities, or event concrete ciphers.



Before the event

To communicate with everyone about the event we used a variety of different channels. First, we sent to all YSofters a Save the Date invite for their Outlook calendars. This is something that you can do as soon as you know the date of the event. Your event doesn´t need to have graphics, theme, or anything else. You just need to let your colleagues know that something is cooking, and they should stay tuned, and save the date! 

Then we sent out registration forms created in Office 365 via e-mail (and of course some reminders). We needed to know exactly how many people would attend the event as we had a few surprises planned for them and we needed to know their T-shirt sizes.

Once this was ready, we started with event teasers to boost interest in the event. We created three video teasers in line with the story and concept of the event. Take a look.  

Message in a bottle 
Did you know that Václav goes to the Brno dam (aka Prýgl) whenever he's contemplating big ideas and wants to clear his head? Look what happened to him the last time he was walking near the shore of the lake...

At the airport 
After reading the message in the bottle Václav found in the lake of the Brno dam, he agreed with Woodu they needed to go to Bequia, the Island of Clouds. They had the coordinates and knew where to go, so they went to meet at the airport…but…see what happened….

Sailing The High Seas
After Václav and Woodu discovered all flights were canceled from Brno, the only way to get to the Island of Clouds was by boat. However, they can't sail the boat by themselves, but they have a great crew – YOU – The YSofters! Now, that everyone is on board, it’s time to raise the anchor. The seas are rough and the sea creatures are wild, but the ultimate goal is within reach and together we will make it to – Bequia, The Island of Clouds…

Before the event, we published several articles on our company intranet. We covered general announcements through to the detailed agenda and full technical information. 
  • Links for downloading the virtual world app
  • For YSofters who lived their childhood without PC games, we created a short instructional video that demonstrates how to download and launch the app
  • Cheat sheet with all keyboard shortcuts on how to control your avatar 
  • Detailed technical instructions
  • Information about all teambuilding games 

During the event

During the event, we communicated mainly via chat in the virtual world. As an organizer, you can send a message to all attendees which shows up in the upper right corner and is shown in red. We used this alert mainly for the announcement of a presentation taking place on the main stage. 

The second channel we used for internal communication during the event was a chat dedicated to Scandal on MS Teams. This chat was primarily set up for solving technical or organizational issues but also for sending pictures of YSofters enjoying the event.   

After the event 

Communication never ends when the event foes. After every internal event, we ask YSofters for their feedback. 
  • Please rate the virtual world build.
  • How did you enjoy your day in a virtual world?
  • How did you find navigating the virtual world?
  • Did you have any technical difficulties?
  • Would you participate in a virtual event like this again?
  • Please rate the sailor’s kit (Scandal gift box)
  • Please rate your overall impression of the program.
  • Please rate the Cryptomania games.

These are just a few examples of what we asked, in general, we asked questions related to the Island, items the YSofters received in advance, the agenda, teambuilding games, and their overall impression. 

Unfortunately, not all YSofters were able to join the virtual Scandal, so we shared the recordings of all presentations from the main stage with everyone. Our final piece of communication was the mood video that we created. This included a mixture of the story, teasers, virtual world, and pictures of YSofters from the event. 

External comms 

We wanted to let the world know that even though we are not able to meet in person we are still team building at a highly interactive virtual event. 
  • We shared pictures from the teaser recordings before the event on our social media channels
  • We asked YSofters to share their pictures during the event on their channels using  #Scandal2021
  • We shared pictures of the event logo and Scandal gift boxes on social media
  • After the event, we shared the mood video 
  • We published an article on our corporate blog

Some advice for communications

To keep the event and everything that belongs to the event together, we ensure that we used a tone of voice that fitted the theme. We used sailor slang and quotes to make it more fun and attractive. For example:
  • Sail the date!
  • We cannot control the wind, but we can direct the sail
  • We reached the Island of Clouds. Hooray!
  • Sailing the high seas would not be easy and we needed to prepare the entire crew for this difficult journey. As Larry Pardey said, 'There is no better tool or equipment you can have onboard than a well-trained crew.' We can humbly say that our crew was very well equipped and prepared.
  • Ahoy there sailors! We are here to provide a safe harbor in case anything goes wrong on the Island of Clouds. We have a motley crew here to answer all your questions about the voyage. Please contact us any time, nautical or otherwise.
  • Our ship is all cleaned up, and the wind is getting stronger. It's time to get ready to set sail. The Y Soft crew put together all the essentials you will need to sail the high seas!
My advice would be - prepare as many comms as possible in advance. If you already know the agenda, you can start working on the post-event comms – prepare the feedback form and the comms to accompany any recordings and follow-up information and thanks.

Treasure packages for YSofters 

To keep the virtual Scandal as close to the physical one as possible, we prepared special treasure packages for all YSofters. It contained all the essentials YSofters needed to sail the high seas. It has been a tradition that each Scandal has its own T-shirt with an event logo and something to drink from. 

I would like to point out that, shipping food outside the EU is not an easy task (as you probably already know!). For this reason, we split packages into two categories:  
  • Boxes for YSofters outside the EU contained a t-shirt, bottles, tattoos, paper parrots, and some messages.  
  • Boxes for YSofters inside the EU contained all of the above, plus refreshments and boxes with beverages to prepare the Scandal cocktail signature drink from 4pokoje bar.  

Teambuilding activity

Having team-building activities in the virtual world was a key for us. Cryptomania focuses on team-building activities based on solving ciphers in the online and offline world. Working with Confer-o-Matic, they were able to transfer ciphers into the online world.  

In total, there were nine different ciphers all around the island. 4 easy tasks, 4 difficult tasks, and one special one. For successfully solved tasks, YSofters earned points which were later converted to money for a charity donation. Some facts about the games:   
  • YSofters could solve ciphers solo or in teams. 
  • They could ask for hints but that meant losing some points.  
  • There wasn´t any time limit for games. They could be solved during the whole day.  
  • The ciphers could be solved in any order. 
  • Answers were entered into the Cryptomania’s system (web page).

Charity donation 

No magical island can exist without treasure! The Y Soft treasure is the cloud, but we also should not forget others who are in need. That’s why we donated part of our treasure to Doctors without Borders to help them save people’s lives in countries where medical aid is needed the most. 

Once Scandal was almost over, we counted the points from the team building activities and converted them into money for Doctors without Borders. During the final ceremony, we gave a virtual cheque to Mrs. Alena Novotná, Head of Fundraising.  

Advice & lessons learned 

  • Start with event preparation as soon as you can. We started about 6 months in advance, ideally, I would recommend starting even earlier.  
  • Set up an organizing team you can rely on and have regular update calls (frequency is based on your needs but at the beginning, we had one one-hour call per week. As the event got closer there was a need to discuss things more often). 
  • We created an instruction video on how to download the app, log in, move into the virtual world, etc. which was quite handy. 
  • Check any import/export requirements if you need to ship gifts worldwide.
  • Use teambuilding activities that connect people from different departments and mix people up automatically.
  • Make sure your audience has a good internet connection.
  • If you have teams from different time zones, make sure that the world is open long enough for everybody to be able to enjoy and take part sufficiently. 

If I compare organizing the online and offline events, I would say this time was easier. Even though it was the first time we have done this, and even though there were some technical issues, I still felt less stressed and more confident. Or maybe it is because I became a more senior event organizer and felt more confident about myself. Who knows...?! We know that our colleagues still prefer offline events, but doing it this way meant we were able to meet, relax, chat, make something good, and genuinely enjoy the day. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive and it was a great experience.