Cross-Cultural Cake Days at OnTheGoSystems

November 4, 2019

As a fully remote business, it’s really important for us to bring the team together as much as possible. That’s not easy when our team is spread across the world, and everyone’s so busy. So at OTGS, we’re hosting monthly online birthday parties for a bit of extra social activity.

It’s never been easier to keep in touch. At any one time, there might be half a dozen video calls going on. But we’re a busy place and those calls are naturally work-related.

Here at OTGS we definitely recognize the vitality that socializing brings to a workplace. We have our “water cooler” channel in the instant messenger, and it’s very active. There’s our G+ community group for posting achievements, quizzes, announcements and birthdays. The latter of which prompted us to look at a great new way for the OTGS people to socialize.

Worldwide holidays are hard to find

National holidays don’t easily align when your people are dotted all around the world. A virtual Thanksgiving or Bonfire Night party would be mostly irrelevant, except for one or two of us. And even the big ones like Christmas have quite a different vibe in different countries.

But birthdays are birthdays the world over! They’re the perfect way to bring together the dozens of cultures represented inside OTGS. Everyone loves a birthday, everyone has one, and everyone’s got their own way of celebrating them. You can’t say that about any other holiday during the year.

Of course, it’d be impractical to celebrate every birthday individually. As nice as that would be, we’d all have cake fatigue within a month!

People get a shout out from their teams on G+, and those posts always get a great reaction. To build on the popularity of these posts, an online gathering has been arranged for any birthdays which took place over the previous month.

Blowing out online candles

The first of these virtual birthday parties took place at the beginning of October. This was for all team members who were born in September. It was a great way to see people “outside” of work, chatting about what they were doing to celebrate, and to exchange local and personal traditions.

Hopefully, for OTGSians, these online birthday gatherings will become one of those traditions. 

The birthday spirit really flourished as our team members were happy to dress up and decorate. Balloons and hats were optional but well represented!

It’s a fun and casual activity, but there are genuine team-building motivations behind it. 

Many of our September-born buddies are from different teams, not often crossing paths. Now they have a shared experience and know each other on a much more personal level. 

And we already had our second celebration for our October Celebrants on Thursday Oct 31st:

And of course, people from OTGS also do meet up in person at local events – at regional WordCamps, for example. So building personal relationships at the birthday parties gives us even more to look forward to when we do meet face to face.

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