Do you ever get to work and think: Why the hell am I sitting in this claustrophobic cubicle at this rigid desk stuffed like a dog in a cage (with no windows in sight) just for a paycheck and a crappy-ass title that has no real meaning? Well if you do, then you’re about to get even more pissed-off.
At Red Frog Events, an innovative event planning company in Chicago, employees take Foosball breaks during the day, are given unlimited vacation days, can dress pretty darn casually, and are encouraged to play amongst their “tree house,” which has a zipline, rock climbing wall, a rope bridge and a slide.
I know, you think I’m a liar and that no company such as this exists in America. But it does, and it’s gained so much attention from young job applicants that the office receives an average of 2,000 resumes a month.
Owner and “CEO” — traditional titles are banned from Red Frog, but for the sake of good reporting I had to go there — Joe Reynolds, started Red Frog with a $5,000 investment and over four years, turned his event production business into a $45 million company. This former house painter turned entrepreneur believes that his laid back, rockin’ fun office is a petri dish for creativity. He believes that people are most productive in a fun environment where they are given the freedom to be who they are.
In an article he wrote for Inc., Mr. Reynolds lists the “direct benefits” the company’s experienced since building a creative work environment:
- Easier recruitment. We’ve touted our creative work environment at more than 100 job fairs at universities across the country and now receive more than 2,000 resumes from eager applicants every single month. Camp Red Frog attracts top talent.
- Increased happiness. Happy and appreciative employees are productive employees. How do you get happy employees? Let them take breaks at the company bar, play an arcade game, or brainstorm in a room full of swings. It’s pretty hard not to be happy when you’re on a swing.
- Elevated creativity. One of Red Frog’s core values is fostering innovation and creativity, and when you mix creative people in a creative environment, everyone’s creativity is elevated.
- Mutual appreciation. When company leaders invest so much in an office space, it sends a message to all the employees that we care, and it signals that we’re investing in the long-term health of the company.
- Media attention. Earlier this year, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce named us the “United States Small Business of the Year” and we recently followed that up with being named the Chicago Tribune’s “Best Small Company to Work For.” Camp Red Frog helped us win these awards and get the media attention that followed.
I know, the jealousy has turned to rage and you’re about to tell your nose-picking boss to “kiss it.” And speaking of “boss”, at Red Frog, there are no fancy corporate titles, nope, none. Employees make up their titles and are encouraged to be creative about it. So their COO is known as “Master of Monkey Business” and their general counsel? The “Juggler of Justice.” Yep, it’s really that cool at Red Frog, but the coolest part about this company is that it’s looking to be a model for all other companies.
Mr. Reynolds believes that his vision could be implemented successfully anywhere — it’s just getting the rest of the workforce to agree with his theory that may take some time. There has been a cultural shift towards wanting and allowing more creativity in the workplace, but certainly not to the extent where people are actually welcomed to think freely, and heck, even allowed to come to work in a comfortable pair of jeans.
So we apologize, if we’ve totally pissed you off and possibly even tempted you to kick down the gray walls of your cubicle. But maybe we need to be OK with knocking down some walls, so that we can actually behave socially as humans instinctively seek to be. No one’s saying that we need to have a zipline in every office, but a rope bridge may not be a bad start.