We move. Do you?
I remember a conversation with Arun Mani, who painted a vision of remote work for the future of Freshworks a year ago. At the time, I assumed that the realization of such ideas would take at least three years. Like many other companies, none of us didn’t even begin to suspect that this apparent utopia would soon shape our new reality.
When the pandemic unexpectedly moved our workplaces into our homes in March, the majority of my colleagues, including myself, were initially enthusiastic, except those whose home office had now also become a home school or kindergarten. A few weeks later, however, disillusionment spread, as Zoom calls could not replace the real exchange between colleagues and the value of spontaneous meetings.
We were geographically apart but wanted to stay connected. We were looking for solutions to create a basis for shared experiences and have fun together. Additionally, many of us who lived in urban areas felt shut-in. When these aspects related to connection, mental health, and fitness surfaced, my colleague George Hackett, inspired by a sports challenge he founded among his friends, initiated a movement within Freshworks, supported by our whole leadership team.
The idea was to cover 10,000 km together as a team, which corresponds to the distance from London via Paris, Utrecht, and Berlin (our locations in Europe) to Chennai, the place where our company was founded.
Each of us who had traveled to Chennai previously to visit the Freshworks mothership and had experienced the overwhelming hospitality of our dear colleagues was saddened by the impact of the pandemic in India. We felt the strong urge to help in some way, and so “Tri for Chennai” was born.
The idea was to encourage individuals to stay active and incentivize participation with a contribution of $25,000 by the company to be donated to charity organizations.
This way we’d motivate people to do something for themselves and others. Each participant shared experiences of the distance covered, activities they did, or tips to do things better. This could be anything—cycling, swimming, running, hiking, climbing. People shared stories, pictures, anecdotes, basically creating a virtual camaraderie.
This also brought out the competitive spirit in everyone. Pushing themselves to do something and encouraging others to join in! As soon as the project took off, 80 of my colleagues, including myself, exercised regularly. Our social pages got filled with impressions of colleagues and managers cycling, hiking, jogging, or going for a walk. Even broken legs or old injuries no longer seemed to be an obstacle. Somehow one or the other wine glass with a scenic background was posted as well, but we decided to not count them as exercise.
United by this common goal, we soon exceeded the originally planned 10,000 km. Curious to see how far we can go as one team, we discussed raising the target. Why not go around the world?
The feedback from everyone who had participated was heartwarming. Many were motivated to put their running shoes back on—some after years of injury, others improved their performance and fitness, and all of us enjoyed the sense of team spirit that was created despite the distances.
It was amazing seeing fellow colleagues in their personal habitat sharing impressions of their lives and activities, sometimes even including family members or loved ones in the pictures. Not just that this created a sense of connection but also gave a human touch and kind of a connection to those that we usually know as Customer Success Manager or Account Executive.
We have now broken the 39,000 km mark. And we want to go further.
Why not 100,000 km? We want to create a connection and a movement beyond the boundaries of our company or industry. We want to see you moving!
How can you join?
Download the sticker at the end of this article and add it to your sports selfie.
Share the picture on LinkedIn with the hashtag #wemove and the kilometers traveled.
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