This year marks the 5th year in a row that Clockwork has been named one of the Twin Cities Best Places To Work.  There are many awards worth pursuing in this industry, but for a number of reasons, this is an award that we not only really appreciate, but take very seriously.  You may or may not know that this award is the result of a survey distributed to the staff – so it’s not based on what we say we are, but what *they* say we are.  For obvious reasons, we feel like that is the real honor.  And the Best Places To Work award serves our business very well.  It helps us attract talented professionals when we’re looking to staff up.  It’s always a solid point of conversation in new business and at networking events.  We never take for granted how lucky we are to be included on such a distinguished list of progressive, successful organizations. 

Every year, for the past five, as the event approaches I grumble about whether or not the article in the Business Journal or the MC’s at the luncheon will mention the beer.  Yes, the beer.  You see, we have a keg tapped in the kitchen in our office.  To us, it’s a beverage for late night code jams, the occasional happy hour, or a TGIF celebration.  There’s nothing spectacular about our keg.  It’s always perfectly chilled.  And the tap itself is fancy – an official Summit handle, just like the kind you’d find on a tap in your neighborhood pub.  But aside from that, nothing really remarkable.  And yet, every year the beer gets mentioned.  Some people think the beer is a perk.  I don’t know.  It’s just a beverage.  We like beverages at Clockwork. There’s a whole beverage refrigerator right next to the beer.  No one ever mentions that.  

Make no mistake, we certainly have our perks.  In fact, this week has been particularly harrowing.  We’re busy.  Busy is good.  But busy can also be harrowing. Stressful. Still, every morning, bright and early, you can come to Clockwork and find a dozen or so freshly scrubbed faces sitting around our big kitchen table, laptops open, coffee steaming — engrossed in conversations about projects, and code challenges, and UX trends, and the latest logged software bug, or open support tickets, or the coffee. 

We’re growing.  Growth is hard.  Change is hard.  Still, every day I am struck by how well this group of people adjusts.  How well they welcome new people into the mix.  How much they care about new team members.  How dedicated they are to our clients and to our work and how hard they work to ensure that every new person embraces those values too. 

There’s a baby boom at Clockwork.  Many of our staff are either having babies, or adjusting to new babies and young families.  When babies come hot dishes are made, pictures are taken – there is much celebration.  Baby clothes are handed down.  I saw my boy’s tiny vest on a tiny guy recently and I had one of those wistful moments you have when you realize how fast time passes.  Game nights are getting more and more fun as more and more little people get added to the mix. 

Clockworkers aren’t just Clockworkers either.  They are moms and dads and dancers and musicians and actors, poets, unicyclists, EMTs, photographers, board members, comics, PhD’s, students, mentors, foodies, bloggers, gamers, astronomers, travelers, runners, swimmers, softball players, bowlers, rocketeers, hikers, campers, explorers, climbers, preachers, bikers, filmmakers, singers.  They are a brilliant array of freaks and geeks and artists.  They are living in their world and relishing their place in it.

Late into the evening, when my home/work cave is warmed by the glow of my laptop, there are always Clockworkers online burning the midnight oil.  Sometimes we look to each other for help with problem solving.  We chat about challenges or share interesting content.  We plot our attack for the following day or talk through a pitch in IM.  We may or may not be working, but most of us are curious and exploratory – playing games (or coding them) or experimenting with new apps or new languages.  Personally, in those late nights I just feel better knowing they are out there.  My fellow Clockworkers. 

I joke about ‘fellowship’ in the office.  But, really, it’s no joke.  We’ve got it.  We cook for each other.  We share meals.  Lunch.  Dinner.  Bacon.  There’s always someone to give you a ride when your car is in the shop.  You can count on a Clockworker to tell you when there’s something in your teeth.  Or when your work could be better.  You can count on there being no shame when you ask for help or when you say ‘I don’t know.’ I make promises every day in the name of this company.  These people help me keep them.  And always always always – there is laughter.

People read things like this, or they see pictures, or they hear us talk or they read the tweets and they assume that you can’t possibly like your job like this unless your job is a constant party.  That’s generally when they zero in on the beer.  It’s not the beer.  We work hard.  We work hard and we are constantly learning.  We take it with us wherever we go.  Our families sometimes wish we’d shut it off.  But we love it that much. There is a shared passion, a shared energy for this work that is palpable.  When you hang out with us you feel it.  Are we always right?  No.  Do we make mistakes — heck yes.  But making mistakes doesn’t have to define you — how you respond to them is what matters.  I am always proud of how this team responds.  These people have my back.  And I hope they know that I have theirs.  I believe that living and practicing your values is the key to everything we do.  That’s not the beer.  That’s the people.  And that is what makes this a very best place to work.