Food is prepped in to-go containers for Tableau workers at one in every of Ethan Stowell’s eating places in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood. (Photo courtesy of Ethan Stowell Restaurants)

Looking for a option to have a good time the vacation season with workers whereas additionally injecting some much-needed help into the Seattle restaurant scene, Tableau Software positioned the to-go order of the yr final weekend with assist from longtime restaurateur Ethan Stowell.

The transfer by the Seattle-based tech firm is one in every of many examples of how companies are shifting their vacation plans through the pandemic, transferring gatherings over to video chat, elevating cash for charity, assembling crafts, listening to music, constructing gingerbread homes, donning ugly sweaters and extra within the title of getting within the spirit when spirits are dampened.

Tableau worker Charlie Maier picks up his meal from Red Cow restaurant in Madrona. (Photo courtesy of Ethan Stowell Restaurants)

Like most locations, Tableau put aside its regular in-person gathering this yr — a dinner-and-drinks celebration that may usually happen for Seattle workers and friends at a venue corresponding to Seattle Center or The Museum of Flight. The firm as a substitute reached out to Stowell on the finish of the summer season with a need to work with the celebrated chef and restaurant group proprietor on feeding hundreds of workers at dwelling.

Appreciating the impression that COVID-19 has had on eating places and employees throughout the trade, Stowell urged that they unfold the love past his group of 14 institutions. He known as a bunch of his restaurant pals and supplied to deal with the logistics round group, cooks, menus, pricing and extra.

On Saturday, Tableau ran up a invoice for lots of of hundreds of {dollars} as its digital celebration amounted to three,500 takeaway dinners from 40 native eating places. The taking part eating places, together with eight of Stowell’s, every obtained cash to place towards two-person meals, with drinks, plus 20% tip.

“I know there’s been a lot of great companies out there that are like, ‘Hey, here’s some bonus, go spend it in the community,’ which is fantastic and super generous and nice of them,” Stowell informed GeekWire. “But having it concentrated like Tableau did is meaningful. Everybody had a big night of sales, a good profitable day of business, which will carry them for a while.”

Restaurateur Ethan Stowell throughout a digital vacation “carol-oke” gathering with the Tableau crew. (Tableau Photo)

Stowell, who employs 92 individuals himself, needs to maintain the momentum going into the brand new yr. Knowing that numerous tech firms have budgets for meals service or in-house meals service that they’re not utilizing proper now, he’s organizing an effort to encourage companies to do what Tableau did, each week or each different week.

“It would carry a ton of businesses,” Stowell mentioned of his plan, noting that the primary quarter of the yr goes to be tough for a lot of eating places. “I’ve been in the restaurant industry a long time, and I want to see as many restaurants come through it as possible.”

Keep studying to see how different Seattle-area tech firms are coping with distant vacation season gatherings:


Singer-musician Michael Franti performs throughout a digital assembly for Smartsheet. (Photo courtesy of Smartsheet)

Musical performances are sometimes a giant a part of vacation gatherings for firms, whether or not it’s simply dancing to a DJ or taking on a whole stadium for a pop-star efficiency staged by Amazon.

This yr, Smartsheet, the Bellevue, Wash.-based firm which sells collaboration work administration software program, introduced the music to workers nearly, with a particular efficiency by singer-songwriter Michael Franti.

Franti’s “Work Hard and Be Nice” mantra is an inspiration to the Smartsheet crew, and he was invited by CEO Mark Mader to sing a music throughout an all-company gathering this week. An in-house DJ from the Smartsheet gross sales crew additionally spun tunes all through the decision, whereas executives shared their expressions of gratitude and their hopes for 2021.

And Franti signed off by saying, “May the ashes of 2020 burn themselves into the ground so the fiery phoenix of courage, love, tenacity and Smartsheet goodness rise up in 2021.”


(Convoy Image)

The Seattle-based digital freight community Convoy has put a distant twist on a few of its current traditions across the … “haulidays.” Yep, that was a trucking pun.

The firm has an annual ugly vacation sweater custom with a design facilitated by Convoy. This yr they included youngsters’s and child onesie variations for the primary time.

The reward this yr to workers was a branded Miir mug and a s’mores equipment, and a “s’mores and stories” digital vacation occasion is deliberate for January. It aligns with Convoys conventional timing for a corporation gathering.

Employees got the choice to decide out of the reward and donate the cash to help truck driver-related charities.


Zillow’s Josh Swift, senior vice chairman of Acquisition and Operations, is joined by his two daughters throughout a digital cooking lesson with movie star Chef Melissa King. (Photo courtesy of Zillow)

Zillow workers have been dwelling for the “Zallidays,” a two-part occasion staged final week over Zoom. “Zall” is Zillow converse for “all employees” on the Seattle actual property tech firm.

Prior to the gathering, workers have been supplied a collection of reward packing containers to be delivered to their dwelling; many opted out and ask that the cash be donated as a substitute. Employees raised over $100,000 through the vacation season from Nov. 9 to Dec. 15 for 9 non-profit organizations through the Zillow for Good (Z4G) Holiday Charity Auction.

The two days of Zallidays centered on technique and massive image in addition to individuals and tradition. There was a digital cooking lesson that includes movie star chef Melissa King, winner of “Top Chef All Stars: LA Season 17,” and creator Neil Pasricha delivered a keynote to encourage workers on learn how to make their lives just a little happier going into 2021.


Zipwhip workers throughout a digital wreath-making session. (Photo courtesy of Zipwhip)

Zipwhip, the Seattle-based text-messaging enterprise, averted a company-wide digital celebration for worry that gathering 250 workers on one Zoom name could be a bit troublesome.

Instead, particular person groups got budgets to do smaller digital gatherings of their alternative. Some groups did wreath-making, others did cooking courses, wine/whiskey tastings or sport nights. The company communications crew was planning to get oyster-shucking classes from a former chef at Walrus & Carpenter.

Zipwhip additionally gifted Patagonia jackets to workers and extra day off through the holidays.

Vulcan Inc.

One of Vulcan’s vacation traditions is an annual “Gift of Give” occasion the place workers increase funds for a neighborhood non-profit. Usually that entails in-person actions — every division picks an exercise to run, and colleagues make donations to take part.

The firm based by the late Paul Allen needed to swap gears and get inventive on learn how to increase funds for this yr’s charity, Choose 180, a Seattle-area non-profit that companions with institutional leaders and connects youth with group, empowering them with alternative and instructing them the abilities essential to keep away from engagement with the prison authorized system.

Vulcan kicked issues off with a digital occasion for workers to be taught extra about Choose 180 after which a digital public sale with objects and companies donated by workers, starting from handmade ornaments to artisan furnishings. There was additionally a raffle with prizes donated by the chief crew that included every part from reward playing cards supporting native companies to high-end wine choices and extra.

A Vulcan rep mentioned “everyone really stepped up” and the corporate raised greater than $30,000 for Choose 180.


Redfin software program developer Rama Gokhale designed a gingerbread home with “buy me” scrawled on the roof in icing.

Seattle actual property firm Redfin additionally went the person groups route when it got here to digital gatherings this yr.

Each crew was accountable with developing with their very own exercise. The communications crew employed a magician to carry out over Zoom, and different groups held gingerbread home adorning competitions.


We’ve all had loads of Zoom conferences this yr, some memorable and a few not a lot. Health tech firm Accolade held one for the vacations that earned the standing of “best of the year.”

CEO Raj Singh performed host to a digital live performance for the corporate that included none aside from Seattle hip-hop legend Sir Mix-A-Lot. Check out the pictures on this tweet:

Accolade’s finest zoom assembly of the yr award goes to our latest “Home for the Holidays” digital live performance hosted by our CEO @rsingh68 and @therealmix . The Accolade group got here collectively for a particular night time and had a terrific associate in @KeepMusicLiveWA for producing all of it!

— Accolade (@Accolade) December 22, 2020