FARGO-Christmas is the busiest time of the year for logistics firm C.H. Robinson. That's one reason the culture team at the company's Fargo office, 3175 Sienna Drive S., planned several holiday-themed festivities this month to relieve some tension.
They held a cubicle decorating competition, a potluck, Christmas-themed games and a hot cocoa bar. Several local companies sponsor similar activities throughout the holiday season as a way to build camaraderie and boost morale.
The Forum asked readers to write us why they thought their office celebrated best.
For years, Laney's put up the customary Christmas tree in the lobby of their headquarters at 55 27th St. S. in Fargo. But this year, the plumbing, heating and electrical company hosted an employee workspace decorating contest.
President and owner Kevin Wolf said the idea came from employees Maren Addison, Jodi Kyllo and Carrie Berggren. While he approved, he didn't anticipate the overwhelming response from the staff.
Among the highlights were a cozy fireplace scene at the front desk, a Candyland cubicle featuring the faces of the company's plumbers, an office decorated like Whoville from "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," and another as a gingerbread house. The decoration that may have generated the most chuckles from customers and vendors belonged to Brian Iverson, who added his photo to the likeness of a full-sized elf on his office door.
The company awarded prizes for Most Festive, Most Creative and Most Colorful.
When asked if they would do this again next year, Wolf said, "Absolutely."
"It's neat. This is definitely one we'll keep doing. ... We're always looking for ways for our employees to get engaged and have fun."
EAPC Architects Engineers
Employees of the Fargo office of EAPC Architects Engineers take a different approach. Rather than a competition, employees and their families join forces to celebrate and decorate the office together.
Trenton Bovitz, one of the firm's mechanical designers, said he and four other employees hired in the summer of 2014 started the tradition. He said the group had gotten to know each other pretty well by Christmas and agreed they wanted to spruce up their area for the holidays.
They invited along their families, ordered a few pizzas and got to work putting up a tree and stringing lights.
"The first year my son was still a baby, so we brought the Pack 'n Play. ... Another co-worker brought his son along," he said.
More and more employees have joined in on the fun every year since. This year, someone led arts and crafts activities for the kids while the grown-ups decorated.
Employees also celebrate at a company-wide Christmas party with coworkers from EAPC's branches in Grand Forks, Williston, Minot and Bismarck, N.D.; Bemidji and St. Paul, Minn.; and Sioux Falls, S.D. But it's traditions like this that bring them together closer as an office.
"It makes us all feel closer as a family," Bovitz said. "We all hang out with each other outside of the office. We enjoy watching each other's kids grow up."
The festivities have only just begun when employees of C.H. Robinson attend their office Christmas party. The following week, the company's culture committee sponsors what they call "Spirit Week."
Similar to a school's homecoming week, each day has a theme. This year, festivities included:
• Office decorating party: Each pod decorated their office in a different Christmas theme. This year's winner: Whoville.
• Christmas Cheer Day: Employees were asked to come dressed as their favorite Christmas character and be ready to compete in Christmas-themed games.
• Potluck and Sweats or PJ Day: This one is pretty self-explanatory.
• Secret Santa Gift Exchange: On this day, employees were asked to wear an ugly Christmas sweater and were treated to a hot chocolate bar.
• Super-Secret Santa Surprise: The company catered in lunch.
Abby Haynes, an account coordinator and culture team member, said they've tried different themes throughout the years. They keep what works and try to add something new each year.
Haynes agrees that activities such as these provide a boost to morale.
"And, it makes our office feel and look really cheery," she said.