Our leadership team here is part of a very beneficial entrepreneurial organization that allows us to collaborate with other businesses, share ideas, and learn from one another.
One of the other local companies involved in the group is North America’s leading VoIP (voice over IP) solutions provider, VoIP Supply. They’re a great group of people and their ideas for corporate culture are very similar to ours.
We weren’t surprised when they sent over some photos from their latest monthly craft beer exchange, an event that’s sanctioned and fully supported by the company. They’re allowed to drink their traded beers at work (a benefit we fully support) as their management team truly believes it makes for a better, happier team and a more productive workplace.
We couldn’t agree more.
VoIP Supply’s Content & Conversations leader, Nathan Miloszewski, took a few minutes to answer some of the questions I had about their program.
How long have you been doing the craft beer exchanges?
The craft beer trades and exchanges, which we call The 6 Pack Club, have been going on for just under a year but the idea has probably been in the hearts and minds of the office’s beer lovers for much longer.
Who started it? Why?
The genesis of the idea was formed by several people but what really got the keg rolling was one man, Shawn Hess, VoIP Supply’s IT Manager. Shawn leads the club with his master engineering skills. He’s created an official website that tracks the beers contributed in meetings and he uses a list generator to randomize the list of members to determine who drafts when in each of the six rounds.
We have a lot of craft beer enthusiasts in the building so it was more of a question as to why we didn’t have this organized meeting. We all like beer and we all like each other, mostly, so it was a natural fit.
When/how often do these events take place?
The events take place on the first Wednesday of every month. On that Wednesday you’ll notice a buzz in the office with groups of 4-5 people heading to different local venues to pick up their beer on lunch. It feels amazing just to say that, “picking up beer on lunch.”
It’s always funny to start hearing phrases floating around the office not normally associated with VoIP hardware or technology on that day; things like hoppy, mouth feel, earthy, or IBUs.
Whether it’s Consumers, Wegmans or Premier, during the hours of 12-2 pm, you are guaranteed to run into someone from our company at one of those locations.
Do you have themes?
We haven’t had themes until the most recent trade. Typically, a participant brings in a 6 pack of craft beer and leaves with a really awesome and unique 6 pack based off of our randomized draft system. During November’s session, it was voted on that each person would also bring a special 4 pack to the December meeting, so that each person left with 10 total beers. It just so happened that our December 10 pack selection o’ glory was held on the anniversary of the ratification of the 21st Amendment.
How many people participate?
There are currently 16 members of the “6 pack club,” which accounts for around 45% of our entire workforce.
How do you feel it benefits your team?
It benefits the team a few different ways. One benefit is that we get to hang out with one another and share a common passion. There is a level of bonding and comradeship that is heightened because we are all focused on craft beer and introducing others to something new.
Are employees allowed to consume beer at the exchange?
Employees are certainly allowed to consume at the exchange. We have a pretty awesome environment and having a beer while on the clock is 100% acceptable so long as the person is being responsible and maintaining the company’s Core Values. No one is funneling or doing keg stands, we keep it classy, like Ron Burgundy.
Why would you encourage other companies to consider doing something similar?
We absolutely encourage other companies to look into this. We get to hang out with our fellow colleagues, talk about beer and when you leave with 5 of your 6 drafted beers, you feel pretty pumped. The next day is always awesome too because we’re all talking about the beers we had when we got home and any creative ideas that were sparked like, food pairings or simply having a friend in mind that you know would love to try something.
The level of engagement and team building that comes from the beer exchange is not so much about the beer but more about experiencing the road less traveled. For a company event, it’s an example of how to always be learning and opening yourself up to new ways of thinking.
It’s like the gift that keeps on giving.
So, there you have it folks. Craft beer exchanges at work are an awesome way to promote team building and create a better office environment. How can any good boss argue with that?