Is the cube farm culture on its way out for young, small businesses?
Perhaps, for some industries, it is.
Chicago-based Red Frog Events was awarded the U.S. Chamber’s 2011 Dream Big Small Business of the Year Award for exemplary business practices in community involvement, employee development, and customer service.
Red Frog was described as “a perfect example of a small business that has worked hard and demonstrated smart business practices, while making considerable contributions to both their employees and the economy at large.”
Red Frog Events is 3.5 years old and has become a pioneer of its “industry” – wacky fun-run events across the country. The company’s races, Great Urban Dash, the Warrior Dash, and Beach Palooza, mix running, mud, pig roasts, music, and beer. The company relies heavily on social media to market its events.
Founder Joe Reynolds has created a culture at Red Frog that attracts 2,000 job applicants per month. The company hires about one of every 150. Employees receive a benefits package that includes unlimited vacation days, free food and drink, a fully-paid four week sabbatical every five years and a $100 allowance for office decorations. (At this point, the company is too young for anyone to have taken the sabbatical).
The company’s culture is designed to encourage creativity and employee development. This has resulted in success for other local companies, like Threadless and Groupon, which also has an open vacation policy, as mentioned in a recent FastCompany article.
“I wanted to create an environment where I wanted to come to work every day,” Reynolds said in a recent interview. In the main work area, or “Lily Pad,” there are fake trees, two tree houses where employees are encouraged to work, and a slide. An adjacent room has a rock-climbing wall, which leads into a bar full of free food, drinks and beer. Red Frog’s two meeting rooms contain tables that are constructed out of puzzle pieces and Legos.
Reynolds says it isn’t just the décor that makes the Red Frog offices like a camp. There are frequent arm wrestling contests, dance-offs and foosball competitions for employees.
Although it doesn’t have to be beer, more office cultures like these may be a nudge to the traditional atmosphere. Maybe the typical gray snap-on cubicle – and likewise gray cloud over the employees - isn’t conducive to productivity.