Internet problems every now and then are unavoidable nuisances. It just so happened that we had one at Barrel on the first day of my internship; luckily, it happened near the end of our workday. Being a digital agency with projects centered around the web, this basically means that most of our productivity stops when internet is down.
Our project managers can’t send emails or access projects on Basecamp. Our designers can still work happily on designs in Illustrator, but they’re stuck if they need inspiration, photos, textures, or mock content. Developers can code locally, but anything that needs to be put on a server has to be put down for the moment.
So if we’re not working at full speed, what do we do at Barrel?
1. Ping Pong
Ping pong is important to us at Barrel. We play whenever we can: in the few moments before the day starts, during our 30 minute lunchtime, and once 6pm comes around, when we’re officially off work (even though many people stay long after that). We even have a tennis club polo shirt.
Barrel gets real serious about our ping pong ladder, created by Kevin (and probably cared about the most by Kevin). The board shows a red, blue, and green team, but they don’t really serve a purpose in the competition.
Here are the rules:
- You can only challenge somebody once a week
- You can challenge somebody up to 3 spaces above you. If you win, you replace them and everybody else moves down on the ladder.
- If you challenge somebody, you have to play them by the end of the week or you forfeit the challenge.
- We play 3 games to 11 with deuce on 10, with alternate servers.
Once we confirmed that the internet wasn’t coming back up anytime soon, people rushed to the ping pong table to participate in some good-natured, non-angry, peaceful competition.
Five o’ clock usually means snack time anyway, regardless of whether the internet is working or not. During an internet outage, however, people flock to our office kitchen all at once. Food goes super fast at Barrel; we once went through eight boxes of Puffin cereal in one day.
We usually have fresh fruit, cereal, bread & peanut butter/butter/jam/spreads, leftovers from lunch, or pastries stocked, which are all organic whenever possible. We snack often, but we do it healthfully.
We also have wine on tap. That’s right, get jealous.
3. Play with our Soundboard
Before my internship started, Barrel held a two-day competition called Creative Days, where everybody in the office broke up into teams to create internal web apps. I won’t go into too many details about that now, but one of the teams created a soundboard that’s displayed on the huge screen at the front of our office (when the ping pong ladder isn’t there instead).
If you start clicking on the heads of Barrel team members, you’ll hear what that person is known to say all the time. Jane always says “Stoooop!” and Sei-Wook is known to say “That doesn’t make sense.” We even recorded the bark of
Peter’s our office’s dog, Chocolate, for the soundboard.
We love to play around with it when there’s not much to do. It’s only accessible locally for now, but here are some screenshots of the app.
4. Refresh Repeatedly
Internet issues give us a break from work, but it is an added stress when we have tight deadlines we need to meet (which is pretty much all the time). Our phones were also down, so we couldn’t contact clients that we scheduled meetings with. Consequently, a lot of our offline time was spent trying to refresh the browser hoping that maybe, just maybe, it’ll come back up for a split second. Realistically, that rarely happens though (sorry guys, it doesn’t work that way).