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Filip Kaliszan CEO of Verkada the $3.5 billion security company is paying for workers to socialize

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At the $3.5 billion security company Verkada, the first round of drinks is on the boss. But there’s a catch: You’ll have to take at least two colleges with you. 

It’s all a part of the company’s “3-3-3 perk” that lets employees expense up to $30 in food and drinks if they go out together after 3 p.m. in groups of at least three. 

“We wanted to make it easy for employees to hang out,” Verkada’s CEO Filip Kaliszan recently said on the tech podcast, The Logan Bartlett Show

The concept has since gone viral on TikTok with over 365,000 views of the video in just a few days. 

While some may question the value in footing the bill for workers to ditch work early and have a pint, Kaliszan is betting on workers using that time to pick each other’s brains and spark innovation.

“Chances are you’ll talk about something that’s relevant or work-related or you’ll share ideas and ultimately that’s going to benefit us,” Kaliszan argued.

For startups like Verkada, high engagement and creativity is vital to maintaining competitiveness in an industry populated by $100 billion tech giants.

“The traditional way to do this is happy hour,” Verkada CFO Kameron Rezai told Business Insider. “We thought, can we do it better?”

Bringing workers together again

Verkada’s 3-3-3 perk is one of many new “tactics” the company has deployed to encourage workers to interact in-person more.

Founded in 2016, the California-based company went from selling security cameras to offering six different product lines across 15 locations around the world. In 2023 alone, the company says it grew in size by 60% as it announced it would open offices in New York, Tokyo and more.

“We were doubling our employee base every 12 months,” Rezai said on the podcast, adding that the growth explains why the company controversially called it quits on remote work early on in the pandemic. 

Ultimately, scaling with people who have never met didn’t promote camaraderie at Verkada and conversations on Slack among the company’s engineers quickly turned sour.

“I saw this phenomenon where people would otherwise be friends, start talking to each other exclusively via text,” he added. “They would get into these deep arguments…. writing essays to each other proving each other wrong.”

By June 2020, the company implemented a strict in-person policy requiring all employees to come in five days a week and put measures in place to avoid hiring remote workers altogether. 

Now, Kaliszan wanted to get his workforce mingling.

Before launching the “3-3-3” program in April last year, employees could go for drinks at the expense of the company if they wanted to—but they didn’t know that. 

So by making it an official company-wide perk and advertising it with posters around the office and in elevators, he says it’s gotten an uptick. 

“It wasn’t about the money, it wasn’t about the budget,” Kaliszan added. “It was about everyone knowing that this is something they can do and then everyone getting excited about it.”

Now all 1,800 of Verkada’s employees have participated in the program at least once, he told Business Insider, adding that the 3-3-3 Slack channel gets around four to five posts a day. 

Putting friendship back at the heart of business

Although most firms have summoned their workers back to the office, at least for two to three days of the week, people are still struggling to meaningfully connect with others. 

Instead of striking up a conversation with their-coworkers, Gen Z and millennials workers are turning to TikTok in a desperate bid to find friends. 

The hashtag #friendapplications where young lonely people share their favorite movies, music and hobbies in the hopes of finding a buddy, currently has over 47 million views and counting.

It’s why many were quick to praise Verkada’s efforts to encourage team bonding outside of work.

“Building work relationships and networking is a necessary skill so I’m glad they are prioritizing and paying for it,” one user wrote.

“That is a lot better use of money then like a team building exercise or hiring a speaker,” another added.

However some were skeptical over whether this is just another tokenistic perk being run by a corporate giant with profits—not people—in mind.

“’Ultimately it’s going to benefit us’ = about the bottom line NOT human connection. Come on people…wow,” one person commented.

“Fast forward 3 years, the company has IPO’d, shareholders dictate everything, & the company cuts all perks and 50,000 employees,” chimed another.

Others pointed out that working moms—“who have to pick up their kids at 3”—won’t be able to benefit from the program.

Fortune has contacted Verkada for comment.

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