For as quickly as L4 has grown, we wondered if larger projects and larger teams might impact our sense of culture — that reduced interactions between all 90 employees could move us away from the sense of family we had when we were 20 people. Some of that is inevitable, but to ensure we stayed connected as a team, we created L4ge (pronounced ‘El-forge’). L4ge is our skunkworks program where L4 teams work on internal projects when we’re not in the middle of client work. L4ge encourages people to join projects with co-workers they don’t typically work with and gives people an opportunity to develop new skills.
We just completed our first L4ge Day of Judgement™, in which each team presents its six months of project work to an impartial panel of outside judges. This time our panel was comprised of 8-12 year olds with a diverse body of expertise, ranging from Minecraft to bikes to anime.
This year the projects included the following:
L4 Video App: Think of TED Talks, but generated exclusively for our own internal presentations. If you are a new employee or you missed a “brown bag” talk, this is an Apple TV app that contains a long list of our past presentations available on demand.
Conference Room Control Panels: Like any growing company, L4 experienced an increased demand for conference rooms with a reduced supply. These control panels manage availability and scheduling by allowing us to see when a room is available at a glance, and even reserve a room directly from the panel posted near the door.
Alexa Virtual Receptionist: Surprisingly, we’ve never had an office receptionist, and with our own Amazon Echo app we’ve automated the position. When visitors come to the office, Echo’s voice assistant, Alexa, will ask them who they’re here to meet. A notification is then sent to the L4 employee relaying that a guest is at the front door.
MAME Arcade Cabinet: There are a fair number of classic arcade enthusiasts at L4, and we now have a four-player cabinet built for these games, in addition to a trackball for “Golden Tee” type games and a spinner for “Tempest” type games. The interface is custom-designed to have games organized by the favorites from each of the companies departments.
L4cast: Going from 20 to nearly 100 employees in two years has made it a challenge to remember everyone’s names. The L4cast iOS and Android apps not only tie a face to the name, but also notify when colleagues are in the office, in a meeting, or on vacation. This app also ties into the same backend that powers the Conference Room Control Panels so users can see the availability of rooms directly from the app.
As soon as we revealed our pre-teen judges, it’s safe to assume that the room correctly predicted the contest outcome — The MAME Arcade Cabinet won, but only by a single point. The People’s Choice award went to the Alexa Virtual Receptionist Team and their great presentation. We knew that a panel of 8-12 year olds might not be the most objective, but we felt it was a fun way to acknowledge that the competition isn’t nearly as important as the community we build internally at L4 while creating these projects. All of the projects are wildly successful and everyone is excited to start using them in the office.