My biggest fear when I got out of college was that I would end up in a job where I was a lifeless drone, working strictly for the corporate good. I didn’t want to go somewhere where “Casual Friday” was the way you had fun. I also didn’t want to be somewhere that had fun activities just to check the box for recruiting, but in actuality were not supported by the company culture.
Luckily, this fear was assuaged quite quickly when I was interviewing at Appirio. “Fun” was a core value of the company. Everyone I spoke with through the interview process talked about fun ways they worked with their remote co-workers and activities they did on-site making the environment fun. When I joined in 2012, I was one of the initial 12 hires for our Indianapolis office, and I quickly saw many of what people had brought up - happy hours, volunteer events, liberal usage of Google Effects in Hangouts, etc.
I still remember the first time that I met our former CEO Chris Barbin, now Wipro’s Global Culture Officer. We were in the Pan Am Plaza Building, in a temporary space while our permanent space was built out elsewhere in the building. It was a true startup environment — laptops on folding tables, cables hanging from the ceilings, and an entirely unused server room leftover from the previous tenant. Chris walked in wearing flip-flops, jeans, and a t-shirt. We had a Q&A session with him, and although I remember little of the conversation, I do remember him saying something like, “It’s your office, you guys decide what you want to do with it.”
Fast forward to our yearly company meeting early the next year.
We had moved into our permanent space in the building, I had attended Gen Con and bought way too many board games, got some board games for Christmas, and — in general — was at the beginning of my board game addiction.
At the end of the meeting, we had a happy hour. While hanging out with many of my coworkers, someone brought up Cards Against Humanity. (It is at this point that I must lay the disclaimer that I posted on the door, “Cards Against Humanity is in no way a work appropriate game; it is not now, nor was it ever in any way, sanctioned by HR”). It’s a very easy game to play, with exceedingly basic mechanics, and has a natural appeal due to taboo violations. It also happened to be in my car that day. After 10 minutes of me walking to my car and back, the unofficial first Indy Game Night happened. By the end of that night, we had about 30 people drop in and out of the game.
At the end of it, the Indianapolis Site Manager — Mike Martin — said, “We need to do more of this. Make it happen.”
So… I made it happen.
Board games have evolved into one of my biggest passions while I’ve worked at Appirio, and I’ve done my best to share that love with my co-workers. Over the years we’ve done dozens of game nights, mostly on a monthly basis. We’ve played a whole gamut of games with different depths and appeals: Settlers of Catan, Smash Up, Monikers, Trains, Legendary: A Marvel Deckbuilding Game, Codenames, Halo, Quiplash, Cash N’ Guns, etc. Sometimes games don’t quite click with everyone, other times I get asked by multiple people where they could pick up a copy. But at the end of the day, if at least one other person had fun, I consider it a successful game night.
The best part of all of this is that it’s something any Appirian is encouraged to do. If they have a cool idea for an event, they can make the arrangements for it and invite everyone to participate. The barrier to entry? Your own desire to put forth the effort. We make our own fun.
If you want to learn more about how Appirio changes the meaning of “company culture,” check out our blog!