Author: Jeff Hensel 11-03-2011
There’s a lot of unfamiliarity about working at a new company-new names and faces to remember, new responsibilities, and of course, the unshakable feeling of being the newbie in the office. Regardless of how welcoming your co-workers are, it’s difficult not to feel a bit out of place at first. For me, however, that feeling quickly dissipated, as just a few short weeks into my employment at Algonquin Studios, my first F.E.A.S.T. (Food Enthusiasts for Algonquin Studios Togetherness) was announced. The idea behind F.E.A.S.T. is simple, people vote on a theme and everyone cooks a dish that fits the theme. I saw this as a chance to really bond with my fellow co-workers, as I consider myself a bit of a foodie and food is always something I’m eager to discuss.
E-mails were shot back and forth discussing possible ideas, but it was quickly settled that the theme for the month would be “pumpkin.” It didn’t take long to figure out just how serious my co-workers took food, making dishes like pumpkin-stuffed ravioli and pumpkin-cranberry-walnut muffins. I decided I would do a pairing of pumpkin and sausage in the form of a soup, not willing to risk making a fool of myself in my first month by completely butchering something unfamiliar.
While we’re encouraged to do prep work for each dish at home (Algonquin is still a business, after all), there’s always a good amount of cooking that needs to be done “day of” before everyone can eat. Thanks to our full, in-office kitchen, employees are able to spend a decent amount of time cooking together, a wonderful way to interact with our co-workers on something other than work. The bonding experience cannot be overstated; it gave me an opportunity to meet John, now my good friend, over a topic that we were both familiar with. It made sharing our food-related past easy, and gave us a chance to get to know each other in a way that we might not have otherwise. Eating the finished product with the rest of the company is an absolute delight, as well.
People say the hardest thing about working anywhere is getting along with everyone. At Algonquin Studios, this has certainly not been the case. We’ve got a slightly different business philosophy in general, the atmosphere here cultivates togetherness, and walking into work has never had the typical “corporate grind” feeling for me. As cliché as it may sound, so much of what we do reminds me that Algonquin Studios isn’t just a company, it’s also a family and, for that reason, the monthly F.E.A.S.T. we hold is invaluable.
Besides, it’s an excuse to stuff yourself silly with pumpkin cheesecake at work.
In what ways does your company encourage (or discourage) community in the workplace? How do you feel your corporate policies have helped or hindered your relationships with your co-workers, managers, or even clients?