You may have read a bit about the technical stuff happening at Thalmic Labs, but I thought I’d shed some light onto another very important aspect of the company: its culture. My name is Victoria and I’m the office manager and head of human resources here at Thalmic Labs.

It’s no secret that for start-ups, culture is king – and we’ve put a lot of thought into what cultivates an effective team and a kick-ass product. Here are some of the most important values that we hold here at Thalmic:

Challenging the status quo – Our preference is to hire smart, sharp and resourceful people with the willingness to challenge the status quo. We don’t believe in doing things a certain way “because that’s how it’s done.” Fresh viewpoints and a “first principles” approach at decision making is encouraged.

Open door – Thalmic’s leadership team values open lines of communication regarding anything and everything Thalmic and beyond. If you have an opinion, regardless of “rank” (which we don’t believe in), it will be heard and respected.

[A day at the Thalmic office with our engineers discussing plans for the Myo armband.
Just an ordinary day of discussing the future of human computer interaction.

Open debate – We’re not a bunch of “yes folks”. Debate is welcome and encouraged. Without this, we could be missing out on opportunities to better our policies, processes, and product. The best idea should win and we’re intolerant of politics, egos or position getting in the way. All opinions are equal.

Open concept – We work in a very open environment which helps facilitate the first two points. Our founders, employees, part-timers, and co-op students all sit side-by-side. Everyone is an equal. We all come into the office (rather than working from home) to enable a free-flow of ideas and collaboration. Software, hardware, design, marketing and others are all free to collide and share ideas and viewpoints.

Healthy lifestyle – Our employees are our most important asset, so we encourage physical activity through a fitness reimbursement program and by providing only healthy meal options at events and in the office. We also sponsor company teams in many different sports and everyone is free to participate.

The Thalmic soccer team after a Summer game!
The Thalmic soccer team after a Summer game! Other team left early.

Values are the keystone to company culture, but the bigger a company gets, the more difficult culture is to maintain. Here are a few things that we’ve been doing to maintain our culture during our time of rapid growth:

Planning for the future: The first thing you run out of in a time of growth is space. We’ve planned the design of our new offices in a way that will give everyone the space they need while fostering our values above. We’re even offering healthy daily catered lunches to keep our employees energized during the work day.

Fun company-wide events: Whether they are big (off-site paintballing or laser tag), small (Myo and a Meal events), or ongoing (company soccer and volleyball teams), we’re always making a point to get together and having a good time. Work smart, play hard.

The Thalmic group after a pretty competitive round of laser tag.
Our competitive side came out during laser tag, and we’ve got the sweat to prove it.

Stimulating Environment: Talented people like working with other talented people. We strive to hire people with a passion for what they do, plenty of raw horsepower, and a willingness to be continuously challenged, which creates a stimulating atmosphere. As we move into our new space, we’ll be hosting interesting speakers on a regular basis, both from inside the company and from across the world.

Finding the right people: Life at Thalmic may not be for everyone, and everyone isn’t right for Thalmic. Continuing to invest to find the right cultural fit is and always will be one of the most important factors in our hiring criteria. Every hiring process involves an evaluation of social fit within our culture – generally an informal interview over coffee or a drink.

Hands-on Engineering: We build awesome technology, and this means we’re also the first ones to play with the latest and greatest. We build and test hardware in-house. Prototypes frequently float around the office for feedback, and everyone gets to be alpha or beta testers before the outside world.

If you have any thoughts on amazing company culture, we’d love to hear them in the comments below!