Beyond the booze: Why these 4 Colorado tech startups make time for regular happy hours

by April Bohnert
May 5, 2017

Happy hours have quickly become one of the quintessential startup perks. But for many Colorado tech companies, team happy hours aren’t just an excuse to drink on the company dime. For them it’s about building camaraderie, developing more personal relationships with coworkers and spending time together, away from the pressures of the workplace.

In order to shed more light on this common company tradition, we asked four Colorado startups to tell us what happy hour looks like and means to them.

 

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Unofficial happy hours have been part of the company culture at Travelers Haven since their founding in 2008, but rather than heading out to a bar or restaurant near their Glendale office, they prefer to tap the office kegs and hang out around the shuffleboard table. Communications dDirector Amber Steffens gave us a glimpse into why they’ve made such an effort to make monthly happy hours a priority.

Why do you think team happy hours are important?

Happy hours provide a more comfortable, casual atmosphere that allows individuals to get to know other team members they don’t work with daily. They inspire creativity and reduce stress. Recently, within the past two years or so, we’ve put forth a more dedicated effort to organize regular happy hours once a month for management to exchange ideas or get to know new employees.

Favorite places to go

Our office is our favorite watering hole. Colorado has many talented brewers so we always try to have at least one local craft beer available on our three taps.

How do you think regular happy hours have impacted your culture and team morale?

Happy hours are a natural part of our collaborative culture, allowing individuals to form more meaningful relationships outside of a work setting. We find that this not only improves morale but also allows individuals to work more efficiently together. When you know your colleagues on a more personal level, you are more likely to be invested in helping one another and formulate more collaborative teams.

 

 

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Havenly isn’t your average tech startup, and it should come as no surprise that their happy hours don’t look like your average startup’s, either. Instead of the usual kegs and ping pong tables, this classy cohort holds a bi-weekly “Wine Wednesday” that includes a box of rosé, cheese plates and a social hour on their incredible patio (weather permitting).  Erica Wegeler, office manager for Havenly, told us how this event has evolved — and why it’s such a great part of their culture.

Why do you think team happy hours are important?

I think it’s valuable for the team to know there will always be time set aside that’s outside of a meeting or conference room where you are encouraged to engage and relax. Having the ability to connect with someone you don’t have the opportunity to speak to in your day-to-day allows everyone to get to know someone beyond water cooler talk. And of course, adding a glass of wine to the mix doesn’t hurt!

Favorite place to go

Is it cheating to say our office? We’ve outfitted our space with a lot of the comforts of home, which includes two great lounge chairs and an outdoor sofa for our patio. This may be biased, but I would argue Havenly has one of the best views of Denver from our space, and we rarely hesitate to move the party outside whenever the weather permits. It’s hard to beat a cold cocktail and our patio during the summer months.

How do you think regular happy hours have impacted your culture and team morale?

We are a team that emphasizes finding fun in our workplace and it’s clear we’re closer as a result. Happy hour has positively impacted our culture because it’s a relatively low maintenance activity that shows we prioritize having a social work environment, which I think only lends itself to a more productive office culture.

 

 

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AppIt Ventures has been doing happy hours at least once a month since the company was founded in 2012. When their team isn’t busy building custom mobile apps for their clients, they like to kick back at one of their favorite Denver watering holes. Here’s what their CEO Rob Carpenter has to say.

Why do you think team happy hours are important to your team?

Everyone on the team works incredibly hard and puts in long hours. Happy hours are a wonderful way for our team to spend time together, unwind and build deeper, more meaningful relationships than the normal office hours afford. Most people work for a startup/small business because they’re passionate about the work and technology. Happy hours are a wonderful way to discuss and bond over shared interests.

Favorite places to go

Each person in the organization might have a different opinion, but one of my favorites is ordering food for the team, sharing drinks and playing some epic board games and ping pong matches in our office. Other great experiences have included team hikes, trips to Coors Field, the Escape Room or Punch Bowl Social.

How do you think regular happy hours have impacted your culture and team morale?

Regular happy hours have had an immensely positive effect on the team. Everyone looks forward to the events and getting to spend time together. We are already so deeply reliant and dependent on each other that spending time outside of normal office hours is a way to give back to each other and continue to foster those bonds of teamwork and collaboration.

 

 

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Custom software provider Xpanxion has offices all over the country, so when they opened up their Fort Collins office in 2014, they wanted to give their new team members a chance to really build a foundation together. Today they do happy hours every second Thursday of the month. Marketing Coordinator Kelsey Tobias gave us a little more background as to why.

Why do you think team happy hours are important?

Here at Xpanxion, we believe building relationships with the people you work with plays a major role in the success and culture of an office. Our Fort Collins office has grown a lot in the last year and these happy hours allow us to meet and interact with colleagues we wouldn’t typically during the workweek. Additionally, we feel that these get-togethers foster our company culture by creating a positive environment and supportive team, allowing employees to collaborate naturally.

Favorite places to go

Typically, we like to go to restaurants close to the office, so it’s not too inconvenient for anyone. We rotate between a couple spots. Our most recent has been Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar, but we also enjoy the rooftop of C B & Potts, and a local brewery called Intersect.    

How do you think regular happy hours have impacted your culture and team morale?

These happy hours allow our employees to build relationships that go beyond just the workplace. We have noticed an increase in employee engagement and collaboration around the office. Monthly happy hours have encouraged our employees to feel more comfortable in the office environment, leveraging each other’s strengths in our collaboration to more efficiently solve problems.   

Additionally, allowing our employees to build these relationships outside of work hours encourages them to push for excellence. Knowing they get along and connect with colleagues makes meetings and conference calls more of a team effort. This push for excellence is what every company wants to see from their employees, and ultimately this hard work and drive is great for the bottom line.

 

 

Photos via featured companies.

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