Why We Work Here
by Gabrielle Hendryx-Parker — last modified 11/20/12
Here's why we all chose to work at Six Feet Up and why we are still here:
It's fashionable to promote work environments as "green" and "eco-friendly" to show commitment to the planet. At Six Feet Up, we go further and strive for a "human-friendly" environment that shows our commitment to our employees. Some Sixies bring their slippers to the office, others their favorite blankies. Some walk in socks. Others bare feet. One developer works standing up. Sysadmins sometimes work from a portable hammock set up in the middle of the operations room. Our CEO loves her IKEA POÄNG chair when she settles down for writing.
And it's not unusual to find a baby nestled in a car seat next to a new parent, or a toddler playing with cubes quietly in one corner. Over the years we have had a wide variety of dogs, cats and even a pig attend meetings, with our latest addition being Stewart, a cute little Malshi (maltese and shihtzu) furball, who has already conquered many laps.
The average person spends a third of their life at work. Thanks to ubiquitous emails, instant messages and social media pokes, we are now all carrying work into our personal lives. We believe it is therefore only fair for personal matters to come into the office. Sixies are paid by the hour and have the ability to "catch up" after a medical appointment, a baseball game or any other personal occurrence that takes place during business hours. Of course this is only possible with careful coordination with the team. Mifis are also our best friends as they allow us to connect from an array of unusual places. Sixies have been known to save the day from places like hospitals, gas stations, pedicure spas, medical offices, cruise ships, taekwondo tournaments, conferences and other playgrounds.
We carry our commitment to open source into company management. Our office space is all open, and we ensure transparency by sharing company news, celebrations, issues, hires, and dilemmas with all Sixies at a weekly "AHM" (All Hands Meeting). Long-term strategy is lead by a large group of employees and everyone has a chance to provide their input.
"Bleeding edge" is what rules at Six Feet Up. Everyone of us thrives on trying new things: new tools, new technologies, new gadgets, new processes, new methodologies, etc. Sixies are encouraged to bring up new ideas to help the company thrive. Many of us attend a variety of conferences to learn about novelties and new ideas out there.
This concept is described by Daniel Pink in his book Drive as a tool to develop intrinsic motivation in a team. During ShipIt Day, Sixies work on a project of their choice that they have to deliver within a 24 hour period of time. People can choose who to work with, and how to work on their project. The company just makes sure they have the tools and resources they need. It is often a project that has been pushed to the backburner repeatedly or something that adds value but is not necessary for the daily function of the office: such as a new idea, a prototype of a product, or a better internal process. The main requirement is that it must benefit the company.
Six Feet Up is having ShipIt Days quarterly. Each event is an endless source of amazement at what can be achieved in 24 hours when motivation and "flow" are the driving forces.