Best Place to Work
Recently, Aquasana was voted one of the Best Places to Work in Austin. Everyone loves awards, even businesses. But this isn’t another-trophy-just-for-playing award. Each of my co-workers had to fill out a survey measuring their happiness on the job and series of other questions designed to see how well supported we are as employees and if the expectations of the company are clearly understood. We came in 14th place. We think we should have scored higher. It was our first time taking the survey. Maybe we didn’t “play the game” well enough. If the judges spent just one day in our offices, we would have won. We are a small office with infrequent job openings so maybe it’s a blessing for the disheartened and unemployed that we didn’t score higher. The purpose of writing this isn’t to brag about making the Best Places to Work list… although we did feel like telling everyone from the mail-woman to the people in the elevator. The purpose is to take you behind the curtain and share our success with other small businesses.
Our actual office isn’t fancy. Most of us sit in cubicles. We don’t have any toys, scooters or a napping station as many of the Austin high-tech offices have. We have a small community kitchen where people leave homemade treats on the counter top and share garden-bounty and last night’s leftovers. In total truth, that community kitchen does have two high end coffee makers and as a group we drink a week’s worth of delivered coffee-pods in three days. Our CEO also orders a big box of fresh fruit each week, and because we are a water filtration company, we have filtered water in both sinks and a carbonated filtered water dispenser to ensure we are healthy and hydrated.
Aquasana built its brand on healthy living. That brand promise plays out inside the office walls. Aquasana offsets the cost of gym membership to a wonderful nearby fitness facility. We also have a nice shower in the office bathroom to encourage employees to work-out during the day. Our fitness level varies as much as our personalities. Our CEO, Todd, is a record-holder in swimming. He swims every day before he arrives at work (none of us know exactly when he gets there, he is just ALWAYS the first to arrive). That has a lot to do with his even-temper and upbeat demeanor.
13 of us work at Aquasana’s Austin office. Our age range spans more than 30 years and most of our paths would not have crossed had it not been for this company. I almost said job, but changed it because it doesn’t feel like a job when you actually enjoy coming to work. We are a diverse group of people who are a work family. The younger ones keep those of us with some wrinkles in touch with pop culture, fashion and music. Those of us who have taken a few more trips around the sun, offer advice on engagement rings, living arrangements and bring in the office “groceries”- the milk and coffee creamer.
We also have “dogployees” who come in the office at least once a week. There is no regular dog schedule and sometimes we have as many dogs as we do humans in the office. We have more dog water bowls than drinking glasses. They range in size and breed and most are adopted from shelters. Chloe has three legs (birth defect) and she is the office sweetheart. Nacho was deemed “unadoptable” because he was returned to the shelter so many times for peeing in the house. Those days are behind him now, and he is the smallest yet loudest of the group. Tucker is a pit bull mix whose heart is as big as his head. Pit bulls and “black dogs” are the most common shelter “breeds”. Townes is a “black dog”. He too is from a shelter, and when he looks at you with one ear up, the other down, he is hard to resist. Then there is Vasco. Vasco is a rescue as well, but he has forgotten his less-than-stellar beginnings. He is regal and the best behaved of the group. Duke, a golden-doodle, is our resident “bad boy”– good looking with a naughty streak. He can open doors, literally, by using the handle and when you least expect it he will bite you in the butt. Not hard, just enough to let you know he’s thinking about you. You have to like a dog who goes after what he wants then bats his eyelashes at you when you tell him “no”. Like the rest of us, their paths may not have crossed otherwise but they are friends and take turns disgracing the conference room floor.
The dogs, the coffee, the fruit, it doesn’t seem like we work much does it? We do. All of us are individually good at what we do, and even better as a team. Most of the office is the likely the smartest person in whatever room they go into, yet they don’t lead with it. No one hangs diplomas on the wall or feels the need to puff out their feathers. If you walked around with puffed out feathers in this office, Duke would definitely bite your butt to deflate your ego. When you love what you do, like who you work with and contribute towards something you feel passionate about, you becomes we. And in a group, no one person shines brightest. Together we sparkle and that’s why we think our office is the best place to work in Austin. No gimmicks, nothing slick, just a great group of hard workers, doing their best, in an environment that brings out the best in all of us.