Zengenti is made up of 45 people.  Some work from home, some in the office, and others sit quietly in the basement coding away.  

We're a software company, and need to stay on top of our game. To do that, we need the right people. They need to be innovative, creative, and imaginative. We don't have 9-5 workers who do the bare minimum. We have thinkers, doers, and people who thrive on what they make. We believe in each other and take pride in our work.

As part of our culture we decided to host a hack day, giving everyone the opportunity to explore just how creative they could be in 24 hours. It also let us each work with people from other teams, and get to know our colleagues better. We named it LockDown.

Now, I hear yourself asking, did we lock everyone away for 24 hours with no food or sleep? Well, close, but not quite. We were fed and watered regularly, but sleeping was frowned upon! A lot of crazy shit went down, some insane and sleep deprived coding, disco light bulbs, and even giant rockets being hung on the wall – all in 24 hours. There were seven teams – four software teams and three crafting and grafting teams. There was a place in a team for everyone.

How did it work?

The rules were simple, there weren’t any. Anyone could be a project lead. You simply had to add your idea to the intranet and recruit a team of up to eight people to help build the project. You were allowed to do as much planning as you wanted before hand, but could not start the actual work until the timer began on the day.


We ran LockDown from 11am on Thursday morning until 11am on Friday morning. We then had three hours to put together and practice presentations, and grab some lunch. At 2:00, the presentations began. Each team pitched to everyone else, about what they had made and how.  Every team marked each project in three categories – Epic Fail, Most Innovative, and Best Presentation.

The Winners

The Basement Bandits won all three awards for their sterling efforts in converting the old, worn-down basement into the ultimate games room. They built a complete  pub and cinema room! We celebrated with a beer and a burger from the BBQ – whose mortar was still wet from LockDown – along with some games and a few drinks in the basement.


Oh, and there's a video of all the projects and what we got up to.

Looking to host your own hack day?

There is a lot of information out there about hack days, and we thought we should share our experience for people thinking about running their own. Here are some things to consider:

  1. Pick a date not too close to holidays or busy periods. If you’re allowing physical projects, a spring month is probably a good choice, that way you have the benefit of some outdoor space for messy jobs.

  2. Announce the event early and get people talking about it.

  3. Decide if there are going to be rules, and communicate them from the start.

  4. Have food delivered regularly. Let people know ahead of the day that food and drink will be provided and at what times.

  5. Make sure you have a ‘break out’ area – this can be used for a quick snooze too!

If you’re looking for advice on how to run your own hack day, drop us a line.

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Louise Howells

About the Author

Louise is a professional services manager here at Zengenti. She looks after the Coach House team, as they design, build, customise, and deploy websites for clients. Her background is in user experience and local-government web systems, working in IT for over ten years.


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