Office Hack #32 — Sparc’s Beer 30 Hack
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.
It’s October — so obviously, there’s no better time than now for a beer-related office hack or two. And we happen to have a few.
There are good times for beer in the office — and less good times. Knowing the difference? Not always an easy thing. Enter, today’s Envoy Office Hack: Sparc’s Beer 30 Hack.
Sparc is a software development company based out of Charleston, South Carolina. The founders are beer enthusiasts, so having some around has always been a part of the office culture.
But after a handful of years, Sparc started to grow.
More clients. More employees. More beer.
Not an altogether bad problem to have. However, some clients were a little more conservative so Sparc thought it was time to regulate when staff had a pint.
Do you see that traffic light in the photo, above? That’s part of the hack. It’s pretty hard to miss it when you’re in the middle of the Sparc space.
“It’s literally in the center of the office. It’s definitely a focal point for all of our team members.” Amanda Strungs, Communications at Sparc
Sparc created a simple stop light app to let team members know when it’s “Beer 30” (aka: time for a trip to the keg closet!) and when it’s not.
As you can predict, red means put all beer away. Yellow means beer is okay but keep it low-key, and green means drink up!
It started as a Chrome extension, then evolved into an iOS app. Now it is a simple, responsive website where people can check the status of beverage consumption. The traffic light (and it is a legitimate, giant street light) automatically switches to red in the mornings. No hair of the dog here.
It also automatically switches to yellow at 5pm everyday. Green is usually reserved for parties or celebrations. But requests to change the light status can be submitted via the website…and then the Admins decide whether to grant or deny the request.
Requests for yellow or green are sometimes made when it’s someone’s birthday or if a team is celebrating a big release.
The traffic light feeds off a Raspberry Pi which feeds off a web service through Amazon, which of course is connected to the website.
So why all this trouble over managing something typically not meant for the workplace anyway? Apparently, beer can be an excellent mechanism for team building, problem solving and general peace and harmony in the office.
“The beer kegs, the stoplight, it really brings people together… Team members from different projects, from different teams, working on totally different technology stacks will come together over a beer, share some of their stories. “I’m struggling with this, do you have any ideas, or thoughts how we may move forward with this?” It really brings the community together here at Sparc.” Bob Williams, CTO at Sparc
How to hack it
If you want to hack your own version of a beer drinking notification system, here’s what you’ll need:
- Traffic light (we found one on eBay for $125)
- Raspberry Pi (39.95)
- Amazon web services(prices vary)
- Kegs of Beer! (prices vary)
Approximate total — $165+
Listen & Subscribe
You can listen to the full story in the Envoy Office Hacks podcast. Please subscribe to the podcast in iTunes — just click here and hit ‘subscribe.
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