At WSOL, we work hard at what we do – from the sales team to the project managers to the design and marketing teams. And we also like to have fun. Our employees are pretty cool (they play in or manage bands, volunteer with kids or politicians, fix houses, build aquariums, become bakers and some blog for the fun of it) and they’re always coming up with ways to make our work days fun.
The Caffeine Machine
One of the things that has been a piece of our culture for a while now is our fancy coffee machine. Nothing like kicking off the day with a good cup of joe and a chat in the kitchen about the evening before. Yes, you will still see an occasional Starbucks cup walked through the office, but our coffee machine is definitely well-loved. We have many different options - lattes, espressos, teas, oh my! – and our caffeine machine is a great source of socialization and a way to keep us going.
Of course, when you’re working with a bunch of techies, they will find a way to have the music play throughout the office even if we don’t have built-in speakers. We have a couple colleagues who tend to play DJ on a daily basis, but there’s always a variety of bands/singers being played…. Nirvana, Depeche Mode, Sinatra, Tom Jones, The National, El Michels Affair, The Dip, Jimi Hendrix, U2, The Pharcyde and Black Fast.
The Sous Vide
Most Mondays there’s a conversation about what meat product had been sous vide over the weekend (usually initiated by a couple members of our sales team). There’s talk about which machine is better, what bags they use, and the purchase of some kind of container to cook in. Being a vegetarian, I have no clue what they’re talking about when they mention sous vide steak, but from what I hear on a daily basis, it’s AMAZING! And I’m told that I'm clearly missing out. I will say the egg salad sandwich made for me today with sous vide eggs was delicious!
Friday Design Clinic (aka Beer Thirty)
It doesn’t happen every day (although we wish it would), but usually on Fridays at the end of the day, you’ll hear the crack of a nice, cold beer or the pouring of some scotch over ice. It’s a time to review design concepts, ideate/sketch possible solutions, or attend leadership camp. Sometimes we may even have pizza or snacks provided, but there’s always learning and camaraderie.
On those days that we don’t have the Design Clinic, we might have Meatball Friday. This one is an off-site event hosted by one of our developers and his family so not technically a work event, but it's still attended by many of us. They provide the meatballs and everyone brings something to share and drink. It tends to be outside in the warmer months and inside due to our Midwest weather. Sometimes there’s a bonfire and s'mores or maybe green beer, but there’s always friends and laughter.
We tend to celebrate typical holidays within the office in some sort of fashion, but we also have a national days that we celebrate to keep things interesting.
In the Summer, we celebrate the 4th of July with a BBQ on site complete with local bratwurst that we grill out back and some of awesome potato salad made by one of our developers. In the Winter, we have competitive chili cookoffs and a special holiday meal together.
For St. Patrick’s Day, we usually take a mint shake break. Earth Day was marked with the planting of office greenery. From Root Beer Float Day to Cinco de Mayo to National Taco Day, we find ways to take breaks and spend time together.
Bring in the remoties
Our company on-site happens once a year and is a great opportunity to see all our remote employees. While there are many meetings, there are also fun activities planned. This year, we had a taco truck come out for lunch and I thought it was a great way to step out of the office to enjoy the sunshine for a bit.
We had our big annual celebration in Chicago which was an evening at AceBounce Ping Pong Bar & Restaurant. We recently added celebrating our Founder's Day to the week, as this year, WSOL turned 23 years old. We reminisced about 1995 with blue M&M’s and Orville Redenbacher popcorn and pictures of our employees from past events over the years. It was a great way to see how our work family has grown over the years.
A lot of places reference a work family, but we really mean it. We spend a lot of time together in the office getting sh*t done and there’s quite a bit of socializing after hours too. Movie nights, dinners out, Making a Murderer marathons, shopping trips, 5K’s, Pride parades, birthday celebrations, pumpkin patch visits, concerts, daily walks, and even a Cubs World Series parade. We spend about as much time with our work family outside of work as much as we do our real families.
Obviously, we know company culture is important. What we’ve learned over the years is that it takes the entire company to keep the office culture thriving and we’re pretty proud of the fact that we have such a great work environment! How do your employees contribute to your company culture? Tell me below!