We want our friends and family to love us for “who we are,” but when we walk into the workplace, we tend to trade in our sparkling personalities for slightly more buttoned-up versions.
And while a certain amount of professionalism is important at work, why should we have to hide who we are? After all, we spend a good chunk of our lives at work—it would be nice if we could share our quirks, zany habits, and unique backgrounds with our co-workers.
If you love the idea of working somewhere that embraces individuality, check out these 10 companies. While at some you might still have to physically wear dress shoes, in spirit, you’ll be kicking your heels off.
onefinestay fuses hotel amenities, such as five-star linens and a 24/7 support team, with the comfort and personality of real homes. And like the beautiful and unique houses its customers can stay in, onefinestay’s employees are encouraged to be themselves. “What I really love about the culture at onefinestay is that it’s exceedingly accepting. I have quite erratic tendencies, and people just look at me and smile,” says Kofi Barnes, who manages warehouse operations.
Diverse cultures are celebrated as well with the “Friday nibbles” tradition, where every week employees gather to try foods from different countries and ethnicities around the world.
At Method—a company that sells naturally derived, biodegradeable household, laundry, and personal care products—being bizarre is an asset. In fact, finding people who do things differently is so important to the company that they end every interview by asking, “How will you keep Method weird?”
Some of the ways the office currently keeps things off-beat includes its annual March Madness tournament (ping-pong, not basketball), company prom night, and national goof-off day celebration. Method employees also take turns leading weekly huddles, which they’re encouraged to inject with their own personal flavors and leadership styles.
Since 2011, Umbel has been helping companies understand their target demographics by managing smart data through a beautiful interface.
Umbel is also committed to understanding and appreciating the individual backgrounds of every employee—literally. Each new Umbeler is asked to put together a 20-slide presentation of his or her life story; unlikely and exciting tidbits are not only encouraged, but expected.
4. Warby Parker
This New York City-based lifestyle brand offers high-quality eyewear at revolutionary prices. And while those on the team work hard, they’re also a fun bunch who love to let their freak flags fly. “Our motto is that we take what we do really seriously, but we don't take ourselves seriously. We goof around a lot,” says marketing associate Isabel Seely.
A great example? For one Halloween, CEO Neil dressed as Orphan Annie and gave a presentation to some visiting grad students. Did we mention the conference room they were in was splattered with blood and (fake) bodies? Warby Parker clearly has no trouble seeing the world through weird-colored glasses.
This global media company is as one-of-a-kind as the people who work there.
“Discovery is a place for people who are innovative, curious, hard workers—people who want to explore, learn new things, take chances, and be part of a culture that isn’t afraid to be a little different,” says one employee.
Interested in African dance or chocolate making? What about water-coloring, fly fishing, or improv comedy? The themes of Discovery’s free classes underscore its awesomely eccentric culture. The inclusivity continues with the company’s resource groups, which include priDe, Black Cultural Alliance, Discovery Veterans Group, and Women’s Leadership Network.
At Omnigon—a sports, media, and entertainment digital consulting firm—you won’t get blasted for having embarrassing music on your iPod. In fact, you’ll be encouraged to play for it everyone so you can all jam out together. Every Thursday at 5 PM heralds Omnigon’s in-office happy hour, where each employee takes his or her turn spinning the tables at the DJ booth. According to interaction designer and front-end developer Christian, “It’s a playful office.”
It’s also a diverse one: Its New York office includes staff members from India, Russia, Ukraine, Ecuador, Columbia, and China.
Founded in 2011, Recombine offers private genetic testing. The company places a premium on disparate personalities and skill sets, which keeps the office culture interesting and exciting.
That culture? It’s a nerd’s paradise. When they’re not shaping the future of genetic information, employees are playing copious amounts of Nintendo 64 and debating the future of evolution at their weekly happy hour. Plus, there are the “very expensive toys” in the lab. “Alex, the CEO, wants us to get to know each other on a more personal level and become more than co-workers—he wants us all to be friends,” says Sally, manager of clinical affairs.
It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that Zappos—an online shoe, clothing, and accessories retailer—values individuality. After all, what’s more personal than style?
“The most important thing at Zappos, as cliché as it sounds, is to be yourself. If you can’t spend eight hours a day with your colleagues and be yourself—that’s a sad existence,” says Susan Hinton, senior front-end developer. Wackiness is definitely encouraged by the company traditions: Think fashion shows of the most recent Zappos purchases (even if it’s just a cordless drill) and Zalloween, a golf fundraiser with lots of flip cup and fun.
One of the best things about being around people you’re close to is not having to worry about what you’re wearing—and you can get the same benefit at Squarespace’s relaxed offices. “Squarespace’s culture is very laid-back. You can dress how you want; you can be how you want,” says experience lead Marisa Beltramini.
And if you need more proof of the company’s “home sweet home” environment, look no further than Panda, the office mini Schnauzer. There’s also a resident chef, Katrina, who prepares a fresh, delicious, free lunch for the whole team four days a week. There really is no place like home—er, Squarespace.
HowAboutWe is a dating service that lets users browse, post, and connect over date ideas, whether that’s listening to live bluegrass or scouting out a flea market. The focus on disparate interests and hobbies is definitely reflected in the company culture.
“The people here are ridiculously smart. But maybe because of the nature of our product, they’re also some of the most fun-loving people I’ve ever worked with,” says Ruti Wajnberg, HowAboutWe’s product manager. So whether you’re passionate about Jane Austen novels or juggling, you’ll find acceptance and encouragement at the offices.