Trick or tech: An inside peek at 3 tech companies fall festivities

Written by Kelly O'Halloran
Published on Oct. 28, 2016
Trick or tech: An inside peek at 3 tech companies fall festivities

Happy Halloween! This week, we caught up with several Austin tech teams to see how their teams celebrate one of the best holidays of the year.

Three area companies shared what their day looks like, some of the best costumes and pumpkin carvings the've seen from their teammates, and why it's important to pause on work to share laughs and engage in some seasonal festivities with coworkers and their families. 

 

Responses provided by Lacey Gardner, manager, talent acquisition

How does the SpiceWorks team celebrate Halloween?

We celebrate Halloween every year by having a costume contest for individuals as well as teams and departments. Everyone dresses up for the day and decorates their departments with some sort of theme. Judges visit the areas and name the best and most creative departments.
 
At around 3 p.m., all work for the day stops and parents bring their children to the office to trick or treat from area to area.  At this time, there are "extra" things set up for them like a cotton candy machine, ball pit, photo booth, etc. We also have the company meeting room turned into a party room for everyone to eat and drink and celebrate. There are pumpkins on display from our pumpkin carving contest as well as people who want to be considered for best individual costume walking around.  
           

What has been the best costume idea that you can recall, and what from what department?

Naming a best costume is really hard.  What I really enjoy is when a team comes together to create something specific. We had one team last year re-create a the main image from King of the Hill, which everyone thought was hilarious.  
 

Does any work actually get done the day of?

Work DOES get done the day of. We even have people onsite for interviews – which is pretty hilarious. (Can you imagine sitting in an interview room and having a man dressed as a ThunderCat character – makeup, tights, etc. – come in to interview you?  Well, it happened….) I think it’s a great way to show off who we are as a company. We try to find that balance of working while having a really good time.

Why is celebrating important?

No matter what holiday (even if it’s one your company created….we have those, too), it’s important to take the time to laugh, be silly, and have a good time with your co-workers. Parties like these allow you to mix and mingle with departments you might not interact with regularly as well as just take a break from the normal day to day. From field day to our holiday party, we really believe in taking time to celebrate our employees while having as much fun as possible. 
 
 
 

Responses provided by DeeDee Breaux, senior technical recruiter

How does HotSchedules celebrate Halloween? 

Every year, team members decorate their areas with some type of fun or spooky theme. One year, we had floating tombstones in our customer care area. Another team made a giant spider sitting on a web. We also do a trick or treating event usually on the Friday before Halloween if the days align correctly. Team members are encouraged to bring their little ones to the office in the afternoon and trick or treat around the office.

What do you think has been the best costume idea in recent years?

There have been so many. I think the one that sticks out most was from last year. A team member made Icus from Ahh Real Monsters. Head, and all. He is from our customer care department and stayed in costume the entire day.

Does any work get done when y'all celebrate?

We do get work done. By holding events later in the day and on Friday, it allows us to celebrate in a non-intrusive manner. Costumes and judging can take a bit of time though, so we've tried to streamline by having online voting so everyone has a chance to cast their vote.

Is there a company-favorite snack/drink day of?

You can never go wrong with a witches brew. Usually, drinks are nonalcoholic so we can continue to work. Occasionally, we may fill the keg with a nice, crisp autumn or seasonal beer

Why is it important to celebrate fun stuff like Halloween?

We try to do many things that help with one of our core values: FUN. Taking time out of the day to have a little fun, dress up and decorate promotes teamwork and creativity and helps to get folks engaged and away from their desk for just a few hours. 
 
 
 
 
 
Responses provided by Wes Burke, director of human resources

How does Alchemy Systems celebrate autumn?

We have a Fall Festival Event where Alchemists and their friends and family are invited to participate. We have food, beer, wine, treats and prizes for everyone. This year we will have balloon animals, face painting, a cake walk, cotton candy, live music, a bouncy house, sand volley ball tournament and other fun activities.
 
We also use the time to host a Free Flu Shot Clinic so that Alchemists and their loved ones can be healthy and happy for the holidays.
 
Halloween contests are fun and we have them, but often they are focused on individuals and not teams so they aren’t the main event. Our main event is a pumpkin carving contest.
 
One week before Halloween each team (creative, marketing, finance, development, IT, etc.) receives a pumpkin to carve. The day of our Fall Fest, each team presents their team pumpkin to outside judges for review and we give out cool prizes for first and second place. Last year we gave out gift certificates to local restaurants and a cash prize for a team building event.

What have been some of the better pumpkin carvings? 

Last year for our pumpkin carving contest our creative team was excited for the upcoming release of the new Star Wars, so they carved a pumpkin into BB-8. We also had rebranded the company the year before and the account management team carved our old logo and new logo into two sides of the pumpkin.

Does any work get done the day of?

The mood is definitely more fun that day, but work definitely gets done. We typically start our Fall Fest around 4 p.m. so that we aren’t cutting into our Alchemists home time, but also late enough for friends and family to attend. Productivity, flexibility and family are an important part of our team culture, so we are very intentional around timing and format of our events.

Why do you think it's important for companies to celebrate?

Alchemy always tries to celebrate every holiday. It’s important to us to use them as an opportunity to recognize and celebrate with our team.
 
As a few examples, we have an Irish themed party with bagpipers and dancers for St. Patrick’s Day. We set up a nacho bar and have a mariachi band for Cinco De Mayo. We have a Thanksgiving lunch together in November, and we have volunteer event and HUGE party for Christmas and New Years.
 
For Halloween we look at this as an opportunity to be inclusive, so we definitely have a Halloween theme and tone to this, but we call it a Fall Fest and have tried to have a lot of family focused activities. It’s also usually a couple of days before so that we aren’t “stepping on” anyone’s personal plans. This year it’s on the 27th.
 

 

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