by Hollie Wegman ・ Office Hacks

Office Hack #28 — PlayStudio’s rooftop parking hack

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You’re wrapping up a long day at work. You’re tired. Hungry. Ready to hit the road. But, hang on a minute, some j*ck*ss has boxed you in. Double parked, no less!

This was the daily story at PlayStudios at its San Francisco office before it came up with its clever hack.

The company’s new San Francisco digs came with rooftop parking. At first, the parking was sufficient for the number of employees who drove, but PlayStudios’ rapid success meant more hires. And more hires meant more cars needing to park.

The best way to fit in more cars was to coordinate double parking.

At first, the coordination involved an elaborate, color-coded parking chart and other instructional PDFs.

But few people followed the plan. And angry emails started flying from frustrated parkers.

“They’d have to send an email to the whole company like, “Hey, I have to go to the doctor,” or, “My wife’s giving birth! Whose Toyota Camry is this?!” …It was chaos.” Ryan Stern, Account Manager, PlayStudios

“There was somebody who had to go pick up their kid from school in the middle of the day and it took them an hour to find the person who the car belonged to.” Greg Back, Engineer, PlayStudios

Another side effect of this issue was workday arrival time. It seemed those who came earlier in the morning were more likely to get trapped by the later-arriving drivers. This started to influence when people showed up to work.

Then… this awesome thing happened.

This is a screen capture from PlayStudios’ rooftop parking hack: an app that notifies drivers when they’re being blocked and by whom, and an app that allows those being blocked to contact the blocker.

It was developed when the company held a hackathon. Instead of working on a random project, Greg Back, the company’s lead tech guy, decided he would take on the parking problem once and for all.

In 24 hours, with the help of 2-and-a-half engineers and one designer, as well as a team of promoters, Greg designed the “myParking” app for the company.

“It didn’t need to look super pretty. I used Twitter Bootstrap to give it a basic look… it’s basically a one page app.” Greg Back, Engineer, PlayStudios

This app also works with Slack.

“The app is integrated with Slack by sending slack a notification when somebody is blocking someone. …If I see that somebody’s blocking someone and he’s in front of me and not by his computer, I canlet him know, “Hey, somebody’s blocking you.” ” Tania Robles, People Operations and Program Manager, PlayStudios

The impact of the myParking app has been huge. Copious company-wide emails have all but fizzled out, and the accountability means no one gets stuck.

The other bonus?

“It was a fun experience for me. I got to get a lot more practice in building web stuff. My experience has been completely in games and I got to pick up a new framework called Django and was able to get it up and running in 24 hours so it felt like an accomplishment for me. I’m looking forward to the next hackathon.” Greg Back, Engineer, PlayStudios ### How to hack it

Lucky for you, Greg is sharing his code over here on GitHub.

To see the video created (as part of the hackathon) to promote this app, go to: https://vimeo.com/157164717

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