Boosting R&D sense of community with Tech Days

Boosting R&D sense of community with Tech Days

While we have to keep working remotely in order to stay healthy, the teamwork and the feeling of togetherness have taken a hit during the pandemic.

At Heeros R&D we have our daily scrum meetings along with other scrum related ceremonies, but the adopted efficiency in online meetings has diminished purely unintentional breaks and chats with coworkers. Not to mention kickoffs, gonzo weeks, office parties, hackathons and any other type of fun get-togethers.

Tech Days gives us an opportunity to work differently

Tech Days is a remote event we came up with to have an opportunity to have two days of working with something out of ordinary with Heeros people you might not have really engaged with for the past year. By removing the need of being most efficient you can be there is time to bond within a team and express yourself without limiting yourself to our sprint goals.

In the upfront survey we did, assumption of a problem solving challenge being popular seemed to have a factual base as 11 from 15 not working on their daily tasks answered to prefer a team challenge. Artificial intelligence coding challenges intrigued us as they offered a lot of chances for iteration and improvement based on the results.

We also ended up offering a possibility to also study a topic to give a presentation on to the rest of R&D. Some quality assurance specialists preferred this option and we got “Robocon 2021 event headlines” -presentation thanks to it.

This is how Tech Days was implemented

From the options we looked at, a competitive coding game called Lia Game seemed like a good fit having a flashy real time strategy game matches played using AI's implemented by the teams. Lia Game also supported both python and java, coding languages that are both used at Heeros, python being the language we develop test automation with, thus making the challenge inclusive for QA specialists.

The challenge was revealed to the teams with rules and the base files for the ai project on the morning of the first day. We decided to schedule show matches to demonstrate the progress of the teams. After every 2-4 hours of coding we would ask the teams to submit their current solution and record matches between each team's ai, and posted match replays and analysis to event slack channel. At the end of the second day we awarded R&D challenge cup to the team with the winning AI.

Tech Days feedback encourages us to continue

In the open questions answers the selected challenge was greatly praised, and to round out the questionnaire, 100% would attend another similar event in future! The teams admitted that there were even more ideas than they had time to implement during the Tech Days, but it was good that the challenge was time boxed to realize only the best of them.

Congratulations to team L3J1 for winning the first Tech Days coding contest at Heeros and thanks a ton to all participants and people who made it possible! It was really a blast to be organizing it and seeing team effort come into fruition.

Do you recognize yourself in the above team spirit? Check out our open positions or send an open application to join!

Heeros Kasperi Karesvuori

Kasperi Karesvuori
Scrum Master, Heeros Oyj