News & Politics

Great Places to Work: Be Part of a Team

Most companies rely on teamwork to get jobs done. These five firms really foster it—often bringing staff together for free lunches, charity fundraisers, softball games, even cooking classes.

Employees at Rand Construction enjoy getting together each day for a catered lunch and each week for happy hour. Occasionally, the in-house Rand Band grabs its guitars and plays at the end of the day. Photograph by Vincent Ricardel.

There is no association between this article and the San Francisco consulting firm that uses the trademark GREAT PLACES TO WORK ®

Almost all of our winning workplaces promote teamwork, but at these five companies, teamwork is one of the key reasons people like working together.

Axiom Resource Management
Industry: Management consulting
Total staff local/world: 440/500
Vacation/personal days to start/max: 10/25
Typical events that bring staff together: Softball, basketball, soccer, charity golf tournament
Interesting perks: Gives $1,000 to employees who buy a new home to help cover moving costs, $500 to those who rent a new apartment. All employees get a holiday bonus even if they started in December.

Axiom, a management consulting firm that does work for the government, has a team spirit outside the office, too—it has not one but two local softball squads, a basketball team, and a soccer team.
The staff also comes together for charity. Employees refurbish homes for the poor and host an annual golf tournament that has raised more than $63,000 for Fisher House Foundation, a program for wounded soldiers and their families. Some of Axiom’s work focuses on helping injured soldiers, such as a Defense Department program that provides assistive technology.
The sense that all 500 employees are in it together is helped by the firm’s approachable management. Camaraderie is also fueled by the fact that more than half of new hires are people referred by existing employees. Axiom doesn’t pay a bonus to staff to make referrals; it doesn’t have to.
Axiom Resource Management, 5203 Leesburg Pike, Suite 300, Falls Church; 703-998-0327 ext. 222;

Industry: Used-vehicle history reports
Total staff local/world: 215/398
Vacation/personal days to start/max: 15/30
Typical events that bring staff together: Go-carting, Dave & Buster’s, scavenger hunts, softball
Interesting perks: Discounts on new and used cars; profit sharing; 401(k) match of 50% on first 6% deferred; annual dinner with entertainment—last year’s had an ’80s prom theme.

Every Friday, Carfax brings in catered lunch for employees. Most weeks, lunchtime also includes a contest such as a relay race or trivia game. Employees say the get-togethers cultivate a friendly team spirit.
“When you walk around the building, people are smiling,” says vice president of marketing Scott Fredericks. “They like what they do; they have pride in the service we provide.”
Carfax creates vehicle-history reports that help consumers find safe, reliable used cars by identifying flood damage, accidents, service history, odometer fraud, and more.
The office is casual, with putting greens, dartboards, and basketball hoops; flip-flops and T-shirts are a common sight. Management is similarly unpretentious—and, employees say, approachable.
Carfax, 5860 Trinity Pkwy., Suite 600, Centreville; 703-934-2664;
Industry: Custom T-shirts and products
Total staff local/world: 155/161
Vacation/personal days to start/max: 20/30
Typical events that bring staff together: Softball, flag football, happy hour, dress-up days, Art Nights when staff creates
Interesting perks: 100% paid health premiums; equity options; colorful office; free breakfast on Monday, free lunch on Friday; casual dress; snack cart delivers such goodies as fruit and granola bars.

“Inkers,” as employees call themselves, are a young group—the average age is 25—that is both laid-back and intense. is a Web site that lets clients design and order custom T-shirts, caps, and other products.
Staffers dress casually and have fun: Theme days have included “dress like your boss.” They work hard: Cash rewards are given to customer-service employees who go a month without making a mistake. “If we make a mistake,” says CEO Marc Katz, “maybe a kid won’t get to wear a shirt at a birthday party.”
Inker Outings—at which they might play flag football or take a cooking class—keep staff connected. That’s key: The company has grown from 117 to 161 employees this year., 2910 District Ave., Fairfax; 800-293-4232;

Rand Construction
Industry: General contractor
Total staff: 123
Vacation/personal days to start/max: 10/15
Typical events that bring staff together: Weekly in-office happy hours; golf, bowling, and ski outings
Interesting perks: Company townhouse across the street where employees can stay if they work late; 401(k) match of 20% on first 5%; interest-free loans of up to $5,000; Caribbean cruise for two on ten-year anniversary.

It’s fitting that Rand’s new office in Old Town—a window-filled space with a cozy fireplace and views of DC—is stunning. This general contractor specializes in commercial interiors and has created offices for law firms and big corporations.
Employees at the firm say they feel rewarded for their work. Every day, Rand brings in a subsidized catered lunch; biweekly Costco trips keep the office stocked with snacks.
They also like the entrepreneurial structure, which lets the ambitious grow fast. “We are allowed to take on as much responsibility as we want, and if we get in over our heads, we have the support to pull the job off right,” says John Spaziano, an assistant project manager.
Rand Construction Corporation, 1029 N. Royal St., Alexandria; 703-553-5511;

Industry: Information technology
Total staff: 188
Vacation/personal days to start/max: 15/32
Typical events that bring staff together: Outward Bound; charity events—the firm and staff donate more than $200,000 a year.
Interesting perks: Compressed work schedule allows one day off every other week; eight paid hours a year for volunteering; $50 Home Depot gift card to employees who buy a new home; monthly breakfast with company president; educational brown-bag lunches and pizza nights.

Peek at TerpSys’s intranet calendar and you’ll see a host of after-work team and family activities every month, from pizza nights to softball to pumpkin carving.
Many of the outings revolve around charities such as Race for the Cure. Last year, employees raised more than $24,000 by biking and walking for Alzheimer’s research. TerpSys donates or raises more than $200,000 a year for charity.
“This is where I think TerpSys really stands out,” says James Duncan, a network engineer.
The work itself supports a larger cause. Some of TerpSys’s work, for example, is providing IT solutions that help researchers at the National Cancer Institute.
TerpSys, 1201 Seven Locks Rd., Suite 300, Rockville; 301-530-9106;

Rosa is a senior editor at Bitch Magazine. She’s written for Washingtonian and Smithsonian magazine.