AtSite’s ‘Late Night Wednesdays’ are a chance for creative collaboration

January 20, 2013

Company: AtSite.

Location: Washington.

Employees: 48 nationwide; 44 locally.

Once a month, employees of District-based consulting firm AtSite stay late at the office to crank up some music, duke it out in table tennis matches and enjoy a catered dinner on the company’s tab.

The tradition, known as “Late Night Wednesdays,” was started last year as a way to recognize employees who were putting in long hours.

“We’re very client-focused, so we do have people who tend to burn a little midnight oil,” chief executive Davor Kapelina said.

Leaders aim to make the event feel more upscale by bringing in sushi, empanadas or Spanish food from nice restaurants rather than ordering pizza from a carry-out joint. They also offer beer and wine.

After employees fill their plates in the conference room, they can use the time however they please.

“We think people need a break. It’s easy to get really head down and just grind,” Kapelina said.

For some employees, it ends up being a largely social occasion.

Rob Wyte, the firm’s senior director of technology, said that interacting with his colleagues in such a laid-back atmosphere has lent itself to better collaboration on the job.

“You grow a better bond with someone. You’re going to be able to work with them better,” Wyte said.

Late Night Wednesdays can also provide a chance to talk shop. Kapelina said the events are key opportunity for junior staffers to share their ideas with him about new clients to go after or new strategies to consider.

And some workers use Late Night Wednesdays as a chance to catch up on tasks that are difficult to get to during a regular work day. Janae Holloway, a senior associate on the administrative team, said that she often uses the time to file papers, clean her desk or organize her inbox.

Holloway also schedules informal meetings during this time because the relaxed mood can prompt a burst of creativity, she said.

“It definitely helps you think out of the box,” Holloway said.

Sarah Halzack is a reporter and Web editor for Capital Business. She covers the local job market and the business of talent and hiring. She occasionally writes for other sections at the Post, most frequently in the form of dance reviews, dance features, book reviews and obituaries.
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