Sayenko Kharenko: The first law firm to hold a new year event for over one hundred people in a virtual party space

Sayenko Kharenko (SK) is one of Ukraine’s largest law firms offering comprehensive support in all major sectors of the economy. In order to navigate the rapidly evolving Ukrainian legal and business environment, SK embraces innovation through new products, out-of-the-box thinking, and creative solutions. This goes far beyond client practices and includes the handling of internal communications as well as their corporate culture.

In December 2020, SK held a corporate event for its 150+ employees online. For the first time in Ukraine, a corporate event was hosted online in a completely 3D space powered by the Party.Space virtual event platform.


Challenges

Like many other companies, in 2020 SK faced the challenge of complying with restrictions imposed by COVID-19. Although they were able to quickly adapt to the new realities of remote work, the company was having difficulties coming to terms with the negative effects that lockdown was having on its corporate culture. 

“While technologically we were 100% ready for the transition to remote work, we did not want to compromise and lose the unique team events that lie at the heart of our corporate culture," says Michael Kharenko, partner at Sayenko Kharenko. One such special event has traditionally been the year-end celebration. At the end of the year, the entire team gathers to reflect on their successes, greet newcomers, and listen to leadership. For the first time in 17 years, SK’s traditional New Year's corporate party was under threat of cancellation.

From the beginning, we decided that we didn't want to turn our New Year's event into a formal meeting,” says Alyona Onyshchenko, Marketing and Development Director. “We wanted to create an atmosphere of celebration for everyone online. During the modern times of virtual reality, we needed some acceptable solution,” Onyshchenko adds.

It turned out that there weren’t many solutions on the market that could satisfy the ambitious plans of the SK team. Here is a quick overview of the solutions that the team considered during their prep phase.

Remo
Despite the fact that Remo positions itself as a platform for informal communication, their feature set was limited. The ability to create a private group for audio chats during an event was not enough to implement SK’s vision.

Backyard
This platform offers team game functionality, which is great. But it is not designed for a large number of people. Therefore, it was impossible to hold a New Year's party for the entire 100-person team. In Backyard, you can only conduct activities in groups of 10 people.

Spatial Chat
This platform provided the minimal amount of required functionality but had very confusing pricing. The need to subscribe to the service and the introduction of time limitations alienated SK’s team.


Solution

Party.Space caught SK’s attention for several reasons.

  1. It features the possibility to reproduce an online event structure that is comparable to a live event. The lobby, the main stage, and rooms with specialized activities - all this allows you to create the most comfortable and close to real conditions.
  2. Interactive mechanics allow people to communicate while the main event is taking place on stage.
  3. The ability to arrange different activities in separate rooms, which do not lose connection with the main course of the event.
  4. Space’s visual design in the form of a real club. Optimal presentation of every employee’s avatar which can combine both static photography and video streaming.
  5. Multiple interactive activities ranging from musical quizzes to a real online bar.
“Our goal was to combine our annual presentation about leadership with an atmosphere of fun and casual communication for everyone in the same virtual space. Party.Space seemed to be the best option to combine formal events with the interactive game experience,”  says Onyshchenko when asked why Sayenko Kharenko chose Party.Space.

The focus of the event was a speech given by the company's leaders. The team then welcomed newcomers who had joined the firm over the past year. After the formal part, every employee could communicate informally or join in on the gaming activities in separate virtual rooms.


Results

The event went without any problems. The technical side worked great. “There are always concerns that something might go wrong during online calls. This could be an issue with the internet connection or service providers. In our case, there were no such troubles. All employees noticed that Party.Space worked without any difficulties, even on older computers,” Onyshchenko adds.

For almost two hours, more than a hundred people had fun in a fully functional virtual party space. “Our celebration was so different from anything that other companies offered, it was a nice surprise to our colleagues,” says Onyshchenko. After a year of using Zoom and Teams, it was amazing to be in an online space creating an atmosphere of real presence.”

Throughout the event internal analytics system was busy monitoring and compiling statistics. Party.Space monitored the activity of those present with an average team engagement rate of 78%. This means that 78 people out of 100 were active inside the space for at least 50% of the event’s runtime. 

This corporate celebration was the first experience for a Ukrainian company implementing this kind of technology. In a country with a traditionally strong IT industry, it is not surprising that an industry leader would pioneer this type of new technology. In the case of Sayenko Kharenko, we are not only talking about new technological solutions but investing in the culture of a team that would otherwise suffer due to working remotely.

Published

March 29, 2021

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