From company punk bands to trips to Spain, here's how local tech teams bond after hours

August 10, 2017

Something special happens when employees willingly choose to hangout with each other outside of work. Sometimes these relationships naturally blossom from day-to-day mingling. And sometimes they arise from the carefully-orchestrated events guided by a company’s culture team.

Regardless of how these friendships come to be, people who like spending time outside of work together typically like working together, too. We caught up with five Austin tech teams to learn how their employees spend time together after hours — and learn more about some of the opportunities they provide to do just that. 

 

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ShipStation’s culture and development manager Ashley Lane said their team uses Slack to help get word out about work events. These official and unofficial gatherings have included everything from trivia nights, Game of Thrones watch parties, live music and more.

What types of activities do your coworkers do together outside of the office?

Outside of company offsites and happy hours, coworkers internally organize regular board game nights, Alamo Drafthouse movies, trivia (third place out of 45 in The Office Trivia and ninth out of 30 in Game of Thrones!), volunteering, attending classes, karaoke, dog park days, potlucks, bootcamp exercise sessions, seeing our coworker’s bands play on Red River, and ladies’ dinners.

How does the company promote out-of-work activities?

We organize through Slack! We have a lot of Slack channels geared toward interests including board games, movies, video games, dogs, etc. From those, someone will step up as an “organizer” and create polls and plan an event. It’s all pretty organic.

We want to facilitate external activities, even if they might be “unofficial.” We might rent a venue, offer prizes, or use our space as well. Our “out-of-office” activities are sometimes still in-office because we have a comfortable, nice space we enjoy being in. We’re looking forward to our Game of Thrones watch party here this GoT season!

How does this impact culture within the office?

It ensures that people from different departments interact with each other and build friendships and good rapport. When Pokemon Go was huge, we would have groups of people from all departments taking walks together and hunting Pokemon! Things like this are huge not only for enjoying coming into work every day, but it makes for a more collaborative, productive and efficient work environment. You might start talking to someone in a different department because of something like Pokemon, but you now already have the ice broken if you have a question or need help on something.

 


 

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Alexa Westerfield, Sprinklr’s senior associate of people and places, said their team often spends time together outside of the office, including a park cleanup day last month. Westerfield said regularly scheduled events like these help foster a greater sense of community among employees.

What types of activities do your coworkers do together outside of the office?

Sprinklrites go to out of office happy hours, have lunch at the Capitol weekly and volunteer together. Our most recent volunteer event took place in July at Shoal Creek where we cleaned up the park.

How does the company promote out-of-work activities?

Our office manager, Staci Lammering, does most of the planning for out-of-work activities. Emails, in-office posters, calendar invites, word of mouth and our weekly office standup meetings are some of the ways we promote our activities.

How does this impact culture within the office?

These activities outside the office bring employees together by helping them get to know the people they work with better. It also creates a sense of community.

 

 

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uShip’s out-of-work activities span recreational sports leagues to Startup Games training sessions. Angie Meier, uShip’s senior manager of talent acquisition, filled us in.

What types of activities do your coworkers do together outside of the office?

uShip coworkers get together to have all sorts of fun outside of the office. We have sports leagues, tech guilds, canoe groups, gaming groups, beer and wine clubs, charity groups, and the StartUp Games practice groups — you name it!

How does the company promote out-of-work activities?

uShip will offer rideshare coupons to employees if the events are big enough. We also promote activities via slack channels and monthly all-hands meetings. In the case of charity activities, uShip honors matching donations to various local causes.

How does this impact culture within the office?

I think encouraging employees to develop and build relationships outside of work fosters a work environment of cooperation and collaboration. You want to see people succeed when you know more about them and genuinely like being around them at work.

 


 

 

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A quarter of the Aceable team regularly dines at new Austin ramen spots on the hunt for the perfect bowl of noodles. Rachel Marcinek of Aceable’s recruiting team shared the details on that endeavor — and more — to illustrate how Aceable employees hang out and support one another.

What type of activities do your coworkers do together outside of the office?

We have an office band! Members from our content, video and marketing teams make up Teen Pope, a punk band that gets together to play local shows that many of the team attends together.

A couple early Aceable employees have spent some of their free time in the last ten years writing and illustrating a comic, Trailer Park Samurai. Their first issue came out last fall, and the second issue is scheduled to be released at Staple! Austin in the beginning of September. A lot of people from Aceable have really helped from being art references, editing, proofreading and hyping the comic!

A group of 21 ramen super-fans regularly schedules ramen dinners at various restaurants around town on a quest to stay informed and seek out the very best ramen available in the city.

We organize at least one office-wide community service event per quarter. We've put together protection packets for Aids Services of Austin, volunteered with Mobile Loaves and Fishes at Community First! Village to help improve the grounds, and next we'll be working with Bookspring to help build early literacy in children.

How does this impact culture within the office?

Getting together for all of the above out-of-office events helps us create and maintain strong bonds not only within our own teams and Aceable as a company, but also many events give us a chance to meet people from other companies and from other organizations in the community. People at Aceable thrive on knowing they can count on their work fam to try out something new or spend a day volunteering with them — all they have to do is make a suggestion and there will almost certainly be several people who want to jump on board!

 

 


 

 

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MVF’s outside-of-work activities include dinners, rec leagues and the good ole Texas rodeo — and international, all-expenses paid travel. Emmy McKee, MVF’s senior corporate recruiter, talked to us about how fun events (including a trip to Ibiza) help create bonds between employees.


What type of activities do your coworkers do together outside of the office?

We've gone out on a few trips with our president from the London office when he’s in town. We toured the Texas wine country, ate at Salt Lick and most recently went to the rodeo. On a more casual basis, some of our members play in a couple sports leagues together, we have girls’ wine and cheese nights, float the river, movie Fridays or peruse the local bar scene. Everyone in the office is always invited to our social outings; we have a really great team bond.

How does the company promote out-of-work activities?

Our company has sent us off on an unforgettable trip to Ibiza to celebrate smashing our annual sales targets. We frequently look for fun events to do together outside of the office.

How does this impact culture within the office?

It helps us get to know each other beyond who we are professionally. We have a much greater bond which builds a bigger support system. We don't want anyone to feel left out or alone so we often coordinate events to help facilitate a cohesive environment.

 

 

Images provided by companies.

How does your team connect outside of the office walls? Let us know with a tip or on Twitter @BuiltInAustin

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