The Intel Corporation in DuPont, Washington, has an initiative called “Great Place to Work” (GPTW). Part of this initiative is to develop “Fun Teams.” The idea is to create a great workplace environment and stimulate workers by including activities directed specifically at workers’ interests. Several teams have already formed, including kayaking/rafting, golf, soccer, basketball, photography, and dancing.
James Holland, Senior Validation Technician at Intel has been taking his RC airplane to work with him, flying in the parking lot during his lunch hour. After a while, several other co-workers started to join him and soon they had a group of about 15 pilots! Here is his story. “Just for fun, we started flying small electric planes in the Intel back parking lot during our lunch hour, with a small group of guys that would fly every day, even during the cold of winter. The parking lot was fun, but not entirely safe due to the fact that cars were coming and going, and sometimes people were nearby. At times, there were guys flying in the rear parking lot, as well as the front parking lot at the same time. It became clear that we needed to establish some sort of control to be safer, and so we could continue to keep our site friendly to presence of our aircraft.
Intel’s GPTW program’s goal is to entice interest in Intel as truly a Great Place to Work by investing in the people who work there. Part of this initiative was to create fun teams of various sorts. The list grew very quickly and many different teams developed. The small group of dedicated fun fliers saw this as a unique opportunity to create an RC fun team. After negotiations with the fun-team and site managers, the Intel RC DuPont Group was formed. A vacant unfinished parking lot on the Intel property was graciously approved by our site manager for our use. We spent a few weekends removing rocks from that area for a makeshift runway. It was not as smooth as flying from the parking lot, but now much safer as all fliers are at the same place on the property, and we no longer had to worry about cars, people, etc. The trees surrounding the lot always seem to catch any plane trying to get away.
The site managers moved some picnic tables out there so we have places to work on planes in our pit area. One by one, more people noticed us regularly flying during lunch time and interested people began to join us. Most could not believe at first that this was an Intel-sponsored team! The Fun Team purchased two networked RealFlight simulators with all add-ons and 50-inch plasma screen monitors for them. The simulators were set up in our common game room, where all Intel DuPont employees now have access to learn to fly RC! When the weather is bad outside, the networked simulators provide an excellent alternative for some fun flying or to brush up on our skills.
Still in our infancy, we are now looking forward to more members, more employee exposure, and possibly site improvements like runway surfacing, safety fencing, signage, etc. We are interested in growing this Fun Team to a whole new level of fun. We have ideas such as fun-fly events, or maybe introductory flight days with instructor pilots with trainer systems at the ready for first time pilots. We regularly have new aircraft showing up at the field, and several new pilots which have already learned to fly right here at their place of work!
The RC Fun Team is a unique kind of team probably not seen yet at many companies. There are many benefits to having employer-sponsored Fun Teams. It is an excellent way to bring people together, and helps develop relationships which can then benefit the company. Teamwork through diversity is what truly makes Intel successful, and the Fun Teams are an excellent way to bridge the gaps between people of different interests and backgrounds. The Fun Teams enhance communication skills, and help people open up, relax, and truly smile as they have real fun!”
Intel Manager Gerardo Martinez offered the following comments:“I think the value of the company to have a Great Place to Work is one of the ways that we retain people and all come back to work happy every day. It’s really important to foster an environment where the employees can relax and decompress to later come back to be productive and with a refreshed mindset. Creativity is not obtained by putting pressure in the environment but the other way around. The different fun activities offered by the Great Place to Work program creates a relaxed environment where people interact in different informal situations (not work related). Those bonds improve teamwork and ease communication in the different organizations. In the end the company implements these groups to improve moral, reduce stress and have fun.”
AMA can help you if you are interested in creating a similar situation with the company you work for. If they are large enough, it is possible to present this concept to them for consideration. Contact Tony Stillman at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to pursue this concept where you work!