Good vibes only: Why 3 Austin tech companies swear by keeping the office casual

Kelly O'Halloran
November 16, 2017

For those well-acquainted with corporate setups, a casual work environment can be quite the adjustment. That’s not to say employees at companies that embrace flexible work hours, game rooms and on-a-whim happy hours work any less hard. In fact, many individuals will vouch that a more lax work atmosphere can increase productivity. We connected with three Austin tech companies to see if this holds true at their offices.

 

digital pharmacist austin office

digital pharmacist austin office
Photos taken by Hannah Koehler

At Digital Pharmacist, HR manager Katie Chaney said a casual work environment absolutely affects work output — in a good way. Chaney said employers that embrace an adaptable workplace stand out when it comes to recruiting.

True or false? Casual work environments make employees more productive.

Definitely true. Let's be real, employees expect different things in workplaces nowadays. As an HR Manager at a small startup, you must be cognizant of the war for talent in Austin and adapt to the growing wants and needs of your employee base. By adapting, you are showing your employees and potential candidates that you care about their lives inside and outside of the workplace. One way we stand out is by offering a casual work environment for our growing demographic.

What are your three most unique casual work perks?

Candy runs. Our digital marketing team is “obsessed” with candy. Every day, a team member or two walks to Walgreens and buys the candy of the day. It seems small and silly, but it is actually awesome because it (a) shows we allow our team the flexibility to leave when they want for errands like this and (b) incentivize from within, not from outside.

The "anything and everything" wall. We have one wall in our office that is completely corkboard. At first, we had no clue what to do with it. We started by printing out digital marketing team members’ amateur drawings and creating a "gallery exhibition" for them. Then, other employees starting posting things, ranging from positive praise from our clients to funny pictures of team members, to photos pharmacists send us of their locations. Once again, this is another small and seemingly silly thing; however, it shows that we embrace humor, praise and connectivity in our workplace.

And third, we celebrate the small wins. One of my favorite casual work perks are sporadic happy hours for small victories. Usually, there is 30 minutes notice that a happy hour is happening, and it could be for anything ranging from a product update to our PharmD passing her boards (our most recent celebration!). We rarely have the whole team due to the short notice; however, it is cool to see how many team members come out to celebrate company and individual successes.

What’s one additional perk you’d love to see implemented?

Wow.... anything? I'd like for us to have an in-office chef. Our team already eats lunch together every day in our cafeteria, but it would be really cool if it was free. Maybe one day....

 

shipstation austin office

shipstation austin office
Photos provided by ShipStation

ShipStation’s Dalton Kane is also a firm believer in laid-back office vibes. Kane, an engagement and design manager, said it increases both productivity and creativity. Their office perks include a ShipStation-branded arcade console.

True or false? Casual work environments make employees more productive.

True. While productivity has a lot to do with whom you hire, providing a more casual work environment can reduce stress and increase creativity. When you feel comfortable in your own skin, you perform better.

What are your three most unique casual work perks?

We have a lot of work perks such as a ping-pong table, a foosball table and our own fully loaded arcade console.

What’s one additional perk you’d love to see implemented?

A dodgeball court. We happen to be dodgeball champs.

 

sumo austin office 1

Sumo austin office
Photos provided by Sumo

Matt Levene, Sumo’s head of sales operations, praised Sumo’s in-office bar, floor scooters and dog-friendly policy. Only thing missing? Office haircuts.

True or false? Casual work environments make employees more productive.

True. Unless we started doing five-hour massages ... I could see that becoming an issue.

What are your three most unique casual work perks?

That’s easy... we have a bar at the office and Chad, our CTO, makes bomb cocktails every Friday. In other words, it’s really easy to make people jealous that I work at Sumo. Also, dogs. We basically have rotating play dates with the finest canines in Austin. I’m also a big fan of the scooters. We increased productivity by 9 percent because we move around the office lightning fast.

What’s one additional perk you’d love to see implemented?

Haircuts. Mainly because it will make us more aerodynamic and even faster. And it’s also a basic part of looking professional and feeling good.

 

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