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AWESOME PLACES TO WORK: These Startups Have Better Perks Than Free Food Or Beers On Tap

Maptia employees in MoroccoThe whole Maptia crew in Morocco

The difference between a job you love and a job you hate is usually one thing: the company’s culture.

These days, lots of tech startups have adopted cultural perks like free food, pool table/games, and beers on tap.

But others have come up with new ways to make their companies great places to work. They’ve “hacked” their culture, according to this discussion thread on Quora.

Maptia's founders moved the whole company to Morocco

Jonny Miller, cofounder at Maptia and an avid surfer, has the best hack we've ever heard of.

He and his two co-founders moved their company to Morocco, a low-cost way to have an office on the beach.

Maptia's graduated from the TechStars Seattle program at the end of 2012 and then the founders' visas expired. Instead of going home to London, they wanted a cheaper place where their $100,000 in seed money would last until they launched their beta. They are building a travel discovery site.

So they 'spun the globe and found a cheap apartment only 10 meters from the Atlantic ocean in the Moroccan surf town of Taghazout.' (It's the second floor of the white building, pictured.)

All five Maptia team members live there. They stop work when the surf it up and the cost of living is so low, they can feed themselves on $10 per person week, Miller says.

Commerce Sciences has the last person to join create a welcome kit for the next person to join

Commerce Sciences has a cool tradition for an employee's first day at work, says Oren Ellenbogen, an engineer at the Palo Alto, Calif., startup.

'The last person to join the company is responsible to create a 'starter kit' for the next one to join. Each kit is totally different and personalised (depending on how creative the last person is :)), ranging from funny jokes, interesting books to Nerf Guns and coffee capsules,' he says.

At Expertcity, hearing the bell ring means free breakfast

A lot of companies have bells in their offices that people ring when they sign a new customer contract or have announcements.

But at Expertcity, there was a unique rule about the bell: If you rang it without a good reason, you had to buy breakfast for the whole company the next day, says John Greathouse, who was CFO at the time.

Expertcity was the startup that created GoToMeeting and GoToMyPC and was sold to Citrix in 2003.

Greathouse was originally opposed to the bell because he felt employees would think it was 'a cheesy, faux motivational tool' but people loved it.

HubSpot plays musical desks every three months

HubSpot, a Cambridge, Mass.-based startup with 300 employees, something wonderfully bizarre every three months.

Every quarter employees have to sit at a new, randomly assigned desk, says founder and CTO Dharmesh Shah. This mixes up teams and changes the people they sit near. It also forced everyone to clean up their workspace, Shah says.

Quora does this great thing that helps employees bond called a 'vacation tax,' says Nikhil Garg, an engineer at the Mountain View, Calif. company.

'Employees bring in exotic food items for everyone in the office after every vacation/trip,' Garg says.

Richard Banfield, CEO of Fresh Tilled Soil, gives his employees one of the best perks ever: a 'workation.'

He explains:

'For workation we send our staff to exotic locations like Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic. The idea is for them to try working remotely from some unusual location. We pay for their air ticket, accommodation and food - as well as surfing lessons or something that gets them out if their comfort zone.'

They do have to work a full day but they also get time to 'surf, do yoga, or whatever they want.'

And it's not counted as vacation time.

Softwire pays for singing lessons for everyone

London-based Softwire offers its employees an unusual perk: music lessons.

'We have a drum and a singing teacher who come into the office regularly to teach lessons to whoever wants one - we also have a couple of bands within the company,' says managing director Zoe Cunningham.

If music isn't your thing, the company has a 'Morale budget' where it arranges for other kinds of on-site lessons, like sushi-making.

At Round, they work in complete silence for one half day per week

Israeli startup Round has instituted Quiet Wednesdays, says cofounder Ilan Leibovich.

That means no talking for the first half of the day. If they need to ask another employee a question, they have to email it or use IM.

At Buffer, employees keep no secrets, not even about their sleeping habits

Buffer, an 11-employee startup in San Francisco, has created a tell-all culture with its hacks. One of them is pretty wild, as described by cofounder Leo Widrich in a Q&A with Inc.'s Jeff Haden.

For instance, the company gave every employee a Jawbone UP wristband. It allows you to automatically track your sleep, your daily steps, your nutrition, and a lot more, and they share their results with the rest of the company.

Haden was trying to help people improve their sleep patterns so they could be happier and more productive at work.

At OZ they bring mum's home cooking, and mum, to work

Gudjon Mar Gudjonsson, CEO and founder of Iceland startup OZ, said one of his favourite culture hacks was to have a team member invite his/her mum or dad to help that team member cook lunch at the office.

'It's a great little hack that can both enhance the company culture and even increase the productivity of the team,' he said.

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