We are a deep-tech start-up. We spend a lot of time in front of our computers in normal circumstances, but now Zoom meetings and constant online life have made it even more difficult to disconnect our eyes from screens. All this, combined with the overall difficult situation, took its toll on all of us – even if sometimes we ourselves do not realise it. In order to combat this exhaustion, the amazing management team at Polystream (special thanks to our wonderful CEO, Bruce Grove) decided to close the office during the last week of May and give everyone in the company a well-deserved week off. We looked into options that would drive people away from their computers during those days while thanking them for all their hard work. After pondering various options, we decided to lean towards some good old-fashioned toys: LEGO!
Every person at Polystream received a box of Lego blocks. The ultimate goal was to use our imagination and create whatever we could with a bunch of random pieces. “When the challenge was first announced I thought Aw no, another thing to do”, confessed Joe, software engineer, during our last Retrospective. However, he continued, “it turns out that I was very stressed with work and, once I was able to forcibly relax, I enjoyed it!”.
“When I was 10, Bentalls in Kingston used to hold a summer holiday Lego competition for kids. Mum would drop me off, I’d spend three hours in a pit of Lego building stuff. I dug through the pit and found almost every set of wheels in there and used them to build a massive tank with the wheels as the tank tracks. Basically, anyone else who wanted to build something with wheels was doomed. When mum came and picked me up they asked if we wanted to enter the tank in the competition, mum said yes, and it was put on the side on display. About a week later we received a card to say we’d won, and we had to go back down and I was given an amazing Technic Lego set, set 8860 in fact which even today I think is stunning, Universal joints, reciprocating engine, steering linkages. I still feel a little guilty that no-one else could make anything with wheels after I’d been through!
Today, a giant box has been opened. So many different wheels!!”
Some members of the team took the LEGO challenge to a whole new level.
Lucas (Software Engineer): working from Canada, decided to upgrade his workstation to make it more comfortable:
“I got inspired to make this when I noticed I was slouching too much while I work. I didn’t enjoy the pain, so I looked into standing desks then realised it’s cheaper to just make one myself, and at least that way I know I’m getting properly strong materials. I also knew I wanted more desk space, my old setup had those chunky bassy speakers sitting on my desk, but when they’re not at ear level it’s hard to hear them. So that’s what led me to make those flat panel speakers. Which has the added bonus of not occupying any desk space and it sounds good no matter where I am in the room.
As for building the desk that took about 4 weeks of work, mostly because the project was too large for any automatic tool we had, so we had to use hand tools only, with exception to the drill and sander.
The speakers were a different challenge: when painting them it’s easy to forget that the propellant used in spray paint is acetone, which dissolves the polystyrene panel like sugar in water. And there were multiple revisions for how to mount them, originally that wooden painting frame was a prototype to hold the panels, before making a final version out of nicer materials. But I ended up not wanting to spend another 4 weeks on the speakers so the fastest, cheapest, and cleanest looking method of holding them was with curtain rods!”