The days of the cubicle are dying. Open offices with standing desks, company-wide retreats, and beer fridges are rising in popularity. Not to mention, companies are prioritizing employee happiness with regular feedback. None of this is happening by accident, it’s all part of a greater movement to make work more enjoyable.
Startups and established companies alike are trying to become more than just a place where people work – they’re a place people want to work and explore their life’s purpose. They’re focusing on building a culture, and these companies have really cool ways of doing it.
This Boston-based startup connects coaches and athletes for private training. According to Chief Product Officer Sam Tharp:
We have team lunches every other Wednesday. The company buys lunch and someone gives a brief presentation on something they’re working on. Every Friday starting at 4pm, we have ‘Full Court Friday’ which is basically happy hour. Everyone stops work and we have drinks and just socialize.
It helps that the company is partnered with some big-name athletes (cough cough Steph Curry). When the Golden State Warriors had the opportunity to break the 1996 Chicago Bulls record of Most Wins in a Season, the company hosted an event at a sports bar for everyone to watch.
This startup connects people diagnosed with a disease or allergy that limits how they eat, with dietitians specializing in that particular challenge as well as resources like recipes that are personalized for each client. Don’t be mistaken – this isn’t “Uber” for dietitians. They’re a dedicated team that provides one-to-one support for clients.
The dietitians, called “Kindrd Nutritionists,” hold a weekly meeting to discuss patient challenges (anonymously, of course) and current topics in nutrition. They call the meeting “ROUNDS,” a term used commonly in hospitals where the dietitians all developed their clinical nutrition expertise. Sounds diligent enough, but what makes ROUNDS extra special for this team is that it’s over dinner.
Kindrdfood Executive Chef Lauren Deal joins the weekly ritual. The meal is an opportunity for the team to test out recipes that they develop for use with clients and their families. The practical goal is to make sure that recipes are easy to make, and great tasting, and it is a great way to bring the team together.
The nutritionists’ kids join the meal and even the preparation. This aligns with the company’s intent to live what they aim to broadly inspire: family meals and kids in the kitchen. Kindrdfood Chief Dietitian, Tara McCarthy reflects on it:
This is an important part of the process to design family-friendly, personalized meals, but it’s maybe more important for maintaining our culture.
Chief Dietitian, Tara McCarthy, her daughter Niamh, and Kindrd Nutritionists Lauren Mayer and Elise Steiner.
Based in Ithaca, NY, this SaaS company provides nonprofit administrators with tools to fundraise online, manage volunteers, and engage their supporters. With the focus on volunteer work, many team members frequently contribute their time to causes. There are game nights and craft nights to bring the team together outside of the office.
What’s truly unique about the company is their flair for pranks. They’re masters of the standard tricks: stick someone’s coffee cup to the desk with silly putty, put a fake rat in the bathroom to scare the neighbors, and place an airhorn on the chair of an unsuspecting coworker
Then they take it to the next level with some amazing photoshop jobs. The CEO broke his ribs mountain biking, so they made a pun out of it. The poor guy probably couldn’t even laugh at the joke with those broken ribs.
According to Creative Director Jess Confer,
I believe humor (tasteful humor of course) is one of the biggest keys to a having a fun office culture. As a manager, I try to make things more fun and feel less like work. I try to establish a sense of camaraderie and making sure my team knows we’re in it together. But finding what fits best for your team is important and every team is different.
Toast has grown a lot from its humble beginnings in the founder’s basement and when the team was selling the software door to door. Now the POS and restaurant software company employs well over 100 people, and there’s a lot of collaboration between teams. According to Sales Operations Representative Dennis Brinkworth,
Sales talks to the Product, Support, Software and Hardware teams daily. We all have lunch together, get drinks after work, and some of us even go surfing together on the weekend.
The culture that formed organically in the early days has continued to grow with the team:
We have a weekly get together of home brewers, coffee aficionados who bring specialty coffees to the office, and even a book club that meets every Friday. A few of us are also on an indoor soccer team.
Not to mention that Toast offers a plethora of benefits – unlimited vacation, a kegerator, and hackathons. Then there’s the perk of your customers being restaurants – Kane’s donuts and Upper Crust Pizzeria frequently bring treats.
Plus, it never hurts when happy customers decide to drop off a surprise breakfast or lunch for the company.
This young SaaS company fits of the bill of a startup with its open-office, ping pong table, and beer on tap. It includes some other perks you won’t find everywhere.
When you walk in, a colorful mural with disproportionately large animals appears on your left. To the right, a small room stocked with all the snacks an Instacart delivery person can carry. Employees have a choice of seats – desks (which allow for sitting or standing), hammocks, or bean bags. These were vacant for a week when the team jetted off for a retreat in Austin.
The whole premise is to build an outstanding team, then the product follows. Employee happiness is prioritized with weekly surveys that ask questions such as, “How likely are you to recommend Drift to a friend” and “How likely are you to see yourself at Drift in a year?”. Leadership strives to value the team and listen to their concerns.
What’s your company doing that we should know about? Send us a tweet to tell us!
PS: Here’s some good news for you – Drift is hiring. Apply to one of the open positions and you might be joining the team on next year’s retreat – location to be decided.