Each year at silverorange, we look back over the last twelve months and bestow honour to one deserving of the title of employee of the year. However, at silverorange, employees, family, and human beings are ineligible.
This leaves the coveted position opened mostly to inanimate objects. In the past three years, the Employee of the Year title has fallen on the following deserving candidates:
Employee of the Year - 2004: Jabber Chat Room
After getting our own Jabber instant messaging server, which allows us to manage our own secure instant messaging infrastructure just like we do with email. One of the benefits of such a service is way secure chat rooms can be easily created. Since then, an enormous amount of our company dialog has taken place in our “Office” Jabber chat room. It has been particularly helpful in keeping our few remote partners in touch with the mother-ship.
Employee of the Year - 2005: Subversion Version Control System
Up until this point, we had been a small enough team working on small enough projects that working on one shared code-based wasn’t too much of a problem. Even at this scale, there was still a need to occasionally yell out “Who’s editing index.php?!” Along with some other changes, bringing in a source code management system (we opted for Subversion) has significantly improved the stability of our general work flow. The history of each file is preserved, and perhaps most importantly, it is easy to watch what everyone else is doing on a project. The benefit of this peer-review (aka, fear of shame) is significant.
Employee of the Year - 2006: Third-Floor Workspace
The third floor of our beautiful turn-of-the-century Victorian building in downtown Charlottetown had seen little use until 2006. Early last year, though, we set up a large communal desk, rife with power and network adapters. This became the place we would gather when we were working together on a project. When you ran into an issue that needed another the help or insight of co-worker, they were only a glance away. An LCD projector also helps with group reviews of current project sites.
As a result, many of us now spend most of our working time here at this large group desk. We’ve joked that we could sell our building and move into one room with one desk. We know, though, that working together in a room like this only works because we know we can retreat to our private desks and offices at any point if we need some time without distraction.
Earlier this month, we convened for our annual winter summit on the north shore of Prince Edward Island. Looking back over the year, we examined a few potential candidates for the 2007 Employee of the Year. Promising candidates included our BBQ, Trac, our crock pot (chili and beef stew on Wednesdays!), Firebug, our drink fridge, our Dell projector, our Wii (and Wii Sports), the toilet, and the improvised cardboard lids for our waste and compost bins. Considering two pieces of cardboard as the Employee of the Year might seem a bit odd, but it’s quite likely that they prevented a breakout of malaria in the office following a fruit-fly issue in the late summer.
After this superficial and possibly beer-fueled evaluation, we chose to name the 2007 Employee of the Year as follows:
The Drink Fridge
Having beer, tea, and juice has kept us hydrated, and helped us to speed up the process of passing the caffeine from our morning coffee through our systems. Firebug was a very close runner-up. Some even claim there was some vote tampering, however, given the one-raised-hand=one-vote system, it’s hard to imagine much room for fraud.
Better luck next year, crock pot.