Office design can have a real impact on workplace happiness and productivity. Everything from plants and pets to open work spaces can make a difference in how we work -– and in how we feel about our work. Knowing this, the office supply company Poppin has distinguished itself by giving boring old utilities like notebooks, staplers and file cabinets an extreme makeover, with modern designs and vibrant colors.
Poppin was founded in New York in 2009 by Chris Burch. As the story goes, Burch’s father had a small business and often complained about having to spend money on ugly office supplies. The color and design aesthetic of Poppin's products is reminiscent of another of Burch’s ventures, retailer C. Wonder.
Poppin’s mission is to help employees “work happy.” In addition to pursuing that mission with its products, the company has committed to practice what it preaches with its own employees. Beyond decor and design, the company is attempting to build a culture of happiness where everyone, from the CEO to interns, contribute to the mission. Here are some of the things Poppin is doing to help its people “work happy.”
1. Staffers get $50 to hang out with each other. Employees are encouraged to get to know one another and connect. Poppin developed the “Nifty Fifty” program that reimburses employees up to $50 for doing something fun together outside the office, like going to a concert or getting a manicure.
2. Employees write personal “thank you” notes to all of their customers. Poppin staffers take turns showing gratitude with handwritten “thank you” notes personalized based on customer orders. They recommend this custom as a tip for other companies sending corporate gifts to clients over the holidays.
3. They have an office library. Creating a comfortable environment where employees can be themselves is a big part of the “work happy” philosophy at Poppin. Leaders don’t want staff members to feel like they have to check their personality at the door when they get to the office. To help people express themselves, the company started the Poppin People Library, full of books that employees find inspiring. Everyone in the office got to choose books for the library. When you sign out a book, you can see who recommended it, so you have someone to talk to about it. Books range from business theory to fiction -- and everything in between. Some of the most popular books around the office are The Flamethrowers, by Rachel Kushner; Pour Your Heart Into It, by Howard Schultz; Craft Cocktails, by Brian van Flandern; and Colorstrology: What Your Birthday Color Says about You, by Michele Bernhardt, which is no surprise, given Poppin’s focus on color.
4. They know the importance of starting the week off right. Every Monday, employees celebrate being back at work after the weekend with a TGIM breakfast. Everyone convenes in the kitchen for bagels and breakfast sandwiches to catch up and reconnect. The breakfast also has fostered the tradition of introducing new hires to the office, since they typically start work on a Monday.
5. Every Thursday, there is a "work happy" hour. Each week, a different team of employees takes turns planning a “work happy” hour for the whole office. Activities run the gamut, from chair races to fondue night and playing "Poppin Price Is Right."
6. Humility is a company virtue. At Poppin, no matter how senior you are, no one is above any task. Everyone pitches in to get things done -- whether it's unpacking Fresh Direct orders so that employees have healthy snacks around the office or shooting a video with an iPhone camera and a few employees to help promote a new product.
7. The leadership knows how to embrace the unknown. CEO Randy Nicolau told The Huffington Post, "When you're trying to disrupt an established industry, there is no way to know everything. The founding principal of Poppin is that no one has ever approached this industry this way, so everything we do is a learning experience.”