We sat down for an interview with Hugo Pereira, VP of Growth & Strategy at EVBox, to talk about the team’s experience with annual retreats and how they manage company culture.
As a company with 100% year-on-year growth, EVBox has unique challenges when it comes to building company culture and retaining employees.
As it turns out, remote retreats are one of the best ways to connect employees and establish a community of people.
But we already knew that, didn’t we?
Rapid Company Growth
EVBox, the international market leader in electric vehicle charging solutions, started out only a few years ago in 2015 with just 15 people distributed mostly in Europe.
Since then, they’ve experienced 100% year-on-year growth on all fronts and now they have 300 people in the international team, half of them located in the Amsterdam headquarters, with the other half spread across 10 offices around the world.
Culture as Key Component of Success
There are no secrets to EVBox’s success, and as Hugo admits, they’re not the perfect example of how to establish company culture. However, he says that it was imperative for EVBox to have a strong foundation from day one. So the company came up with three cornerstone values to swear by: being positive, respectful and authentic.
Just like most startups, things were done ad hoc in the beginning, but eventually the company came up with different ways of contributing to employee happiness, with initiatives like:
- All departments receive a training budget so that team members continue to evolve as professionals.
- Every month they hold a meeting where everyone joins either online or physically to have a open conversation between teams and the leadership.
- All teams are brought together every year for a retreat somewhere cool and different in which the purpose is to celebrate growth and to increase the bond between teammates.
- As part of their work on culture, they've developed their own e-mobility conference, rEVolution, with 500 attendants in 2018.
Past Company Retreats and Plans for the Future
To celebrate their successes and growth, the EVBox team hired Surf Office to organize a 2-day a retreat in Lisbon in 2017, complete with a game of scavenger hunt and one very epic dinner in a historical palace.
Organizing a retreat was a natural follow-up to their previous activities. In 2015, they booked a science museum for 30 people and had great fun. In 2016, they only organized a Christmas dinner, but they felt it lacked the charm and connection of a full day’s event that took place in 2015.
Things changed rapidly in 2017, when the company got acquired. The leadership sat down and crunched some numbers, deciding to organize a retreat in Lisbon with about 100 people. The retreat was so great that employees still remember it to this day, and it left them inspired for the year ahead.
"The annual retreat proved itself as one of the strongest elements to building culture in a distributed company."
That’s why in 2018, they organized a retreat with Surf Office again, this time in Madrid and with a larger group of over 200 people.
During these retreats, EVBox makes sure to follow one of their cornerstone values towards their impact on earth: respect.
The company offsets the CO2 emissions emitted during these retreats via the airlines CO2 emissions, but also by doing their own activities such as volunteering planting trees.
As for 2019 plans, it's still left to whether the company will grow in the same pace. As Hugo hopes, the rapid growth will continue and EVBox will establish annual retreats as part of their company culture in years to come.