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Building a great work culture: in praise of Hack Day

At my awesome employer, we recently had a Hack Day (or, per the company mascot, “Stampy Day”). Here’s what it was, why it was fun, and why you should probably bring it to your company too.


What’s a Hack Day
Hack Day is a day taken off from the regular run of the business to focus on other “hacks” or projects brought by the team. These can be dreamed up features, new design items, brainstorming new approaches … a company Hack Day is related to the company, but that can include writing a company chatbot or designing costumes for the company mascot. Or it can be adding a new feature that saves 10 people 5 hours a week … each. So it can be as big, small, ambitious, or fun as team members want it to be.

Who should participate in your Hack Day
Everyone. One of the funnest features of our company Hack Day was that for us, it included everyone. Now, not all companies are small enough to be able to do this. But think about spreading Hack Day beyond the scope of your dev team. Can you involve Product? The Designers? Support? More ideas makes it more fun.

How does it work?
Show up. Find people to work with. Work on things. Repeat. This is the fun part, and there’s not really a wrong way to do it, except by being too uptight.

What do you do after?
Have a celebration the next work day to talk about each other’s projects over lunch. Another favorite feature of mine about Hack Day is that it doesn’t matter if you don’t finish. Remember, it’s Hack Day! Low stress. It’s all about fun and creativity. So everyone talks about what they worked on, shows off what they did do, talks about the hurdles and what they learned. And everyone listening gets to see the smart, talented people they work with show off their stuff.

That’s the part of it that makes it so rewarding for the company. It’s a great team builder, lets people have fun, and makes them excited about the place they get to come to work every day. If that’s not a company win for setting aside one day … I don’t know what else is.

These opinions are my own and do not necessarily reflect the positions of my employer. Although, they probably agree.

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