The office is abuzz.  The days following Hack Day at Percolate are always filled with conversations about presentations, teams, and the various projects that were worked on. These conversations are happening yet again at the water cooler cold brew keg now that our 2017 Hack Day has come to a close.

Percolates has run many Hack Days in the past.  If your office has never done a hack day, we would highly recommend it.  It’s a great way for people who usually might not work together to come together to build something outside of the scope of their 9-to-5. It’s also a great way for people to feel more connected to the office and provide solutions to those small things that people know need a bit of work.

Cost versus Returns 

Hack days are not necessarily expensive to run.  At Percolate we award small prizes for some of the best projects and give each team a small budget to work with.  The real cost of running a hack day is time; a full day away from your desk for all employees at a company can be difficult to both pitch and to arrange. Thankfully at Percolate, we’ve seen a lot of value in doing so year over year.  The real value is not the various office improvements and a handful of Slack bots that get build on Hack Day, but the bi-product is much more rewarding: a large increase in cross-functional teamwork (getting to work with people you’ve never worked with, or even met, before), people getting recharged, adding to a fun office culture, pictures and videos that will be used in marketing materials for years to come, and that general “buzz” we alluded to before.  Or maybe that’s just the cold brew. Who knows.

What we built this year

Hack Day projects seemed to fall into a couple distinct categories this year: Office improvements, communication, celebrating achievements, and … musicals?  More on that later.  There were many projects worked on across our New York, San Francisco, Miami, and London offices this year.  Here is just a taste of some of the projects that happened this year.

Monitoring the cold brew

A team in the New York office build a system to monitor the status of our coffee supply.  The solution includes various buttons, lights, and circuit board with a wifi module that posts to Slack when we’re getting low on cold brew.  Not only useful, but very well constructed:

Making things more green

A particularly green-fingered team built planter boxes filled with plants and seeds to put around the office. The idea is to plant things that we can use in the office kitchen, and to also have some extra greenery around.  The story of one of our employees getting kicked off of a city bus for having lumber in-hand may go down in history at Percolate.

Making things less green

A couple of this years projects were picked back up from previous hack days. These include things like polishing up our coffee grinder box that’s been in use since our 2015 Hack Day, and finishing up some painting work that needed to be done in our NYC office to cover up the last of the 70’s mint-green window trim paint color.

Lunch, anyone?

One of the many benefits of working at Percolate (we’re hiring, by the way) is a weekly catered lunch. In this past our lunch options have been picked by our wonderful People Operations team. This Hack Day, a group of employees built a Slack integration as a way for the offices to vote on different lunch choices curated by People Ops. A nice addition to an already enjoyable perk.

La La Percolate

Our 2nd place winner at Hack Day 2017 created a video about life at Percolate, in the style of La La Land. Watch it below:


Teamwork and Innovation

With another Hack Day under our belts, what’s the takeaway? Why do we choose to do this every year?  I think the answer is simple; Hack Day doesn’t just build new projects or improve the office environment. It creates closer teams, gives people a chance to work on something new, gets people talking, and lets people be innovative in unique ways. In short, it creates a company that is slightly better than the one that existed the day before.