I really liked the time that I spent at Atalasoft. Not only was I doing work that I really liked, I felt like any employee had the ability to make the workplace better on any given day.
One of the conferences that we attended every year was AIIM, which is dedicated to document management and imaging for the most part. I have worked the floor of that show a couple times, but after we had filled out our sales staff more, we didn’t have to dig into engineering for running the booth.
The result was that during AIIM, our office was missing close to 1/3 of the people who were working long days and then hitting the post show bar with customers. Damn them. So on the Monday of AIIM week, I was talking to Christina Gay about what we should do and we decided that we would have bacon day. I knew a company, Burger’s Smokehouse, that sells truly excellent bacon and ships promptly and reliably. We ordered some bacon and arranged with the remaining staff to have some eggs and other things brought in. Christina volunteered her griddle for cooking.
We showed up a little early, cooked up piles of bacon and eggs and enjoyed a really nice change of pace. The office was in an old mill building and featured holes in the floor that allowed us to see in the offices below and consequently the scent of cooking bacon spread. One of the other offices tweeted at us about the smell.
Of course the sweetest part was when the staff from AIIM returned and they found out what we had done in their absence.
Of course we did this at the next AIIM. And the next one. In fact, we started looking at the sales trade show schedule for when we should run the next bacon day. We invested in a second grill because our headcount was larger. For some reason, Kevin Hulse and I nearly always piloted the grills. Eventually we broke down and grudgingly scheduled bacon day when when everyone was available. You know, just to stop sales from bellyaching.
One thing I particularly liked about the process of preparing for bacon day was that Burger’s online form has a field for putting in a personal message. Christina would fill that out with a message to herself or us. Something along the lines of “Hello, Christina. I am your bacon.” I loved this.
Really, what all this comes down to is that in a small office, you have lots of opportunities to improve your office and the office culture. Generally speaking, you make the rules and a small treat now and again is a very good thing.