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At some LI companies, the workweek ends on a lighter note

From left, Tom Canino, Steven May, Peter Goldsmith,

From left, Tom Canino, Steven May, Peter Goldsmith, Jeff Arthur and Laura May take part in "Bring Your Own Guitar" at LISTnet's Digital Ballpark, a high-tech hub in Plainview on Friday, May 19, 2017. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Some local employers like to punctuate the last day of the workweek with special events for employees, whether it’s hosting a music session or doing something as simple as treating the staff to pizza every Friday.

It’s important to give their employees something to look forward to at the end of the week, the executives said. And the gestures pay off.

“Spending lunch together once per week builds camaraderie and rejuvenates the staff,” said employment attorney Nancy Burner of Nancy Burner & Associates in East Setauket, who orders pizzas every Friday for a staff lunch and closes the office at 2:30 p.m. “In a fast-paced work environment, it allows them to reconnect and de-stress from the week’s events.”

To TGIF, the businesses at the Digital Ballpark, a high-tech hub in Plainview, add BYOG — bring your own guitar. Every Friday a group of guitarists from some of the 22 businesses in the ballpark strum together after work in a large multipurpose room from about 5 to 7 p.m. They include Web designers, software engineers and a digital advertising manager, said Peter Goldsmith, the president of the Long Island Software & Technology Network, which runs the ballpark. On a recent Friday they were accompanied by Goldsmith on saxophone, a tambourine player and a karaoke singer.

The group played along as Paul Trapani, LISTNet’s vice president, on karaoke, sang the slow tempo rock classic, “House of the Rising Sun.” About a half dozen listeners enjoyed snacks, sodas and drinks.

The music sessions began shortly after the Digital Ballpark opened about a year ago, Goldsmith said.

“A lot of time techies are just looking at their screen all day, and they don’t talk,” he said. “Now all of a sudden they are starting to sing. They come out of their shell, and you get to know them.”

Tech workers spend their days dealing with problems, so the music sessions are a nice counterpoint, said Trapani, who is also co-manager of the ballpark and a software consultant who was part of a team that worked on the recently released menu guide app, Eat Everywhere.

“We come together and do this, and everyone is smiling,” he said.

On guitar on that recent Friday was Steven May, 19, a digital media manager for U-Group Advertising, a digital advertising firm in the ballpark.

He got the idea to play guitar with others in the hub after he spotted guitars in some offices during visits.

“I realized that a lot of people in the tech industry have a creative release like that,” he said.

His mother, Laura May, founder and chief executive of U-Group, was also playing guitar on that Friday.

“You loosen up when you are doing something in any field with music,” she said. “Whether you are in advertising or finance or technology, music is a common language.”

Such events indeed are good for office morale, said Eileen White Jahn, a professor of business and chair of business administration and marketing at St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue.

“Fun or happiness at work is strongly associated with engagement, organizational commitment and job satisfaction,” Jahn said. And millennials, she said, look for workplaces that will add to their quality of life after seeing the job-related stresses their parents endured.

“They are hoping for the things that fun is associated with, like better working relationships and enjoyment of task,” she said.

Friday isn’t the only day for special activities at some businesses. Austin & Williams, an advertising firm in Hauppauge, hosts a midweek staff luncheon, known as Wiener Wednesday, for its 50 employees. It morphed from a weekly summer barbecue to a year-round event, said CEO Rick Chiorando. In the non-summer months lunch is ordered in on Wednesday, and the staff eats together.

“It gives us something to look forward to in the middle of the week,” Chiorando said.

The ad agency pays for pizza, but employees chip in $10 when they order foods such as sushi, an office favorite, he said. In the summer, employees chip in $20 apiece for the entire summer of Wednesday barbecues.

“I am just trying to make it fun and effortless and give them the best ammunition to do the best job on the work front,” Chiorando said.


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