Envoy is all about making things easier and more fun in the office. In that spirit, we are proud to bring you our new Envoy Office Hacks podcast series. Every week, we deliver the coolest, most ingenious, and just plain fun fixes people have invented to improve efficiency and productivity in their workplace.
There are fewer things in life sweeter to the ear than: free food!
It is a lovely perk at work especially. But unless you’ve rigged up food surveillance equipment, or have a scout on the look-out for you, how can you know when one of your colleagues emerges from a meeting with a giant platter of artisanal sandwiches?
That is where today’s hack comes in: Razorfish’s Fish Bait Hack.
Razorfish is an interactive marketing and technology company with offices across the globe. One of those offices is in Chicago. And that is where we find today’s hack.
You’re looking at part of an internal notification system that was set up specifically for those times when there’s food up for grabs. And this is the man who made it all happen.
This is Sam Spicer from Razorfish.
During his years at Razorfish, Sam can hardly count how many times he has walked into the office kitchen to find a surprise spread of food. Sometimes fresh. Sometimes not so fresh. Or sadly, sometimes just the remnants of a spread… now long devoured.
He thought there must be a simple solution to this problem of not knowing when there’s fresh bait, I mean food, to be enjoyed.
After contemplating different ways of alerting the office of free snacks, he found himself sitting in front of a basic Arduino board. Next thing he knew he was ordering an arcade button, an LCD screen, creating an IFTTT recipe and setting up a Twitter account. And voila! His mouth-watering feast-alert office hack was born.
The hack’s simplicity is also its genius. If you find yourself heading to the office kitchen with a half eaten box of crackers and three wedges of fine cheese, simply slam the “Fish Bait” button on your way by, and an automated message will blast out to a dedicated Twitter account, like so. Thank you IFTTT!
Employees at the Chicago office are encouraged to turn on their Twitter notifications, so they don’t miss the bulletins. Or, some choose to follow a dedicated Slack channel, as another way of staying in the loop.
Sam is working on versions of his hack for other Razorfish offices, like the one in Austin.
One employee we talked to said the hack has been a real boost for office culture, suggesting there has already been interest in a “Fishbait Premium”. A desired first-dibs version of the hack for those who want to get at goodies before others do. But Sam said that is not in the plans.
How to hack it
If you want to hack your own version of Razorfish’s Fish Bait system, here’s what you’ll need:
- Arduino MRK 1000($45)
- A Twitter account (free)
- IFTTT recipe is here (free)
- LCD screen with 10k potentiometer ($11)
- 10mm RGB LED (pack of 10 for $10)
- 3 x 150 Ohm Resistors (pack of 100 for $6)
- Button (pack of 15 for $6)
Other things you’ll need include a breadboard and wires.
Approximate total — $78
Sam’s advice for anyone wanting to try this?
“Honestly, just do it and don’t overthink it. We talked about doing it for a long time but never did. It’s a fairly simple thing but it really has a fun impact on the office. Just jump into something you don’t know for the sake of learning it and the rest will guide you.” Sam Spicer, Razorfish
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