8 Odd Ways to Build a Family Culture at Your Company

I’ve worked at companies ranging from startups to Fortune 500s. Most described themselves as having a “family-style culture.” They do happy hours, bring cake into work for birthdays, and host bring-your-kids-to-work days. In my mind, those activities are commonplace and loosely categorized as family-like.

When my co-founders and I started Enplug, (we build software that lets you manage content and show interactive Twitter and Instagram feeds on TV displays in restaurants, stores, hotels, offices, stadiums), we wanted to create the ultimate family culture. We took what it meant to be a family to the Nth degree.

1. Living together

Working well together in the office is a responsibility. Working and living together is a commitment. Although we have a spacious office, one-third of the company share a home in Bel Air. I live there with my co-founders and several teammates. We share the bathrooms, kitchen, washing machine, gym equipment, food. We carpool to work, which is 12 minutes away, and watch TV in the living room afterwork.

Photo: Colin and me playing music in the kitchen; eating lunch on the weekend in our backyard.

2. Attending our teammates’ weddings

Every time a teammate has had a wedding, they’ve invited the whole team. Most recently, Shawn’s wedding was in San Francisco so a bunch of us carpooled for the 7 hour drive from Los Angeles. Shawn wore an Enplug shirt to his wedding rehearsal and Tweeted about it. We loved celebrating this milestone with Shawn and his bride, Tiffany. At the reception, Enplug teammates took up nearly half of the tables.

Photo: Shawn wearing an Enplug shirt at his wedding rehearsal; teammates at the wedding and in the party bus.

3. Meeting the parents

Like many tech startups, our team’s average age is younger than most corporations. You can see our team photos here. Instead of bring-your-kids-to-work day, our team’s brought their parents to the office to meet the extended family, Enplug. When Josh’s parents visited from Arizona, they stayed in my bedroom since I was out of town.

4. Pets

A family isn’t complete without some furry friends. Don’t be surprised if you’re greeted by one of our teammates’ dogs at the office. They give everyone a nice mind-booster and the best reason to take our eyes off the computer.

5. Working with family

Our CTO, Tina, and Chief Software Architect, Bruno, are a husband-wife couple. They lead our engineering team. They joined one week after they got married. Before moving to their cozy home in Marina Del Rey, Bruno and Tina lived in the Enplug House with us for a year.

Photo: What can we say? We’ve got a good looking team.

6. Vacations

Company retreats mean you go somewhere remote and have your own hotel room. When I go on family vacations, we crowd everyone into one room. That’s what we did at Enplug for a ski trip to Mammoth. We booked one large hotel suite and crowded everyone inside. When it was bedtime, we played a game of Tetris for floor space.

7. Uncle Sam

When tax season rolls around, we help each other with filing taxes. Sharing your income is taboo in the traditional workplace, but just like my parents always discussed their finances, our teammates are open about money with one another. We’re also transparent about Enplug’s own company finances. Everyone knows how much money we spend each month and how much revenue each sales teammate brought in that month.

8. Family dinners

We enjoy our sit-down dinners together. We cook meals for one another and bring friends over for the festivities. We also have a grocery list for any teammate to add foods or snacks they’d like to have.

Photo: (left) My dad invited Colin’s family over for dinner since they all live in Colorado. (right) Dinner at the Enplug house. We turned our old conference room table into the dining table.

Final thoughts

Ok, so maybe we take what it means to be a family a little farther than most companies would feel comfortable to. But our tight-knit group is what’s made our product and company successful. You know how they say you don’t choose your family? Well, at Enplug, we chose ours.


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