InterWorks Vision and Roadmap – The Environment

Culture

InterWorks Vision and Roadmap – The Environment

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InterWorks Vision & Roadmap Part 3: The Environment
The ice cream matters
 
One of my first jobs out of high school was for Creative Labs, THE leader in the marketplace at that time for multimedia PC peripherals. Their name was well known in the I.T. and gaming community. They were new to Oklahoma and when they first opened their doors, they were very selective about their technical support hires.
 
I felt honored to have the opportunity to work there and I loved everything about the job.
 
In those days, the only notion of pay I held revolved around minimum wage (around $5.25 per hour) and Creative Labs offered $8. For me, the additional two dollars and seventy-five cents meant that I felt well rewarded for my time.
 
Beyond the prestige of working at Creative Labs, the two things I remember the most about my time would be:
 
1. They allowed us to stay after hours to play computer games and Doom was our game of choice at the time.
2. They had a box of hot chocolate in the break room and you could drink as much as you wanted – for free.
 
These two things may seem a little elementary and their power may have been unintentional, but to a college student they were fantastic benefits – I became a true evangelist for the company.
 
Returning to the Present (Post Doom Era)
 
Over the last year, I have made several references to the amount of ice cream stocked in the office freezers. All you can eat ice cream is one of the perks we advertise for potential hires and one of the “benefits” of working at InterWorks.
 
When the 2009 economic recession forced us to review places where we could temporarily cut back on spending, I told our staff to prepare for a cutback in the amount of ice cream available. Although any company does what is necessary to weather the storms, the ice cream became a symbolic representation of the culture we want to sustain at InterWorks. We survived the economic storm and the ice cream has returned to our freezers – but that symbolism of the ice cream will remain.
 
Having that option to get out of your chair at any time and get ice cream is a small part of the concept here at InterWorks – but it plays into a more important part of the culture we strive to maintain.
 
There are other things we do that play into the culture: ping pong, grill outs, company trips, marshmallow eating contests, aero chairs, XBOX on the 80″ projector, etc. These things are all very important to me as the owner of a company because they reaffirm to everyone that this company is not all about the bottom line.
 
We are a business. Bottom line and profitability must play an active role in shaping our decisions – you just cannot escape that fact. But just as important to me is the fact that we are human, camaraderie and quality of life will always shape our decisions.
 
If we can build a fun environment and earn revenue, I prefer that any day over an environment that is not fun but brings in 10X the revenue.
 
This is the environment we work to maintain, in my next post I’ll discuss the ideal InterWorks employee and some of the attributes of that person – beyond the love of ice cream and an antiquated knowledge of Doom.

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Behfar Jahanshahi

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