"There are no managerial types hovering over shoulders here, just clearly set goals for the day, week, month and quarter up on the walls for all to see."

Number of employees: 36
Head office: Vancouver
Quote: “I drive from White Rock to Gastown every day; I’ve been doing it for five years, and I would drive from Seattle if I had to”


If my company were a celebrity, it would be: SIDNEY CROSBY
“He is young and energetic and will be one of the greats”

There’s a fine line between work and play at CityMax.com, and staff and management wouldn’t have it any other way. The decade-old website builder’s bright and airy Gastown office is filled with whimsical touches motivating the mostly 20- and 30-somethings clicking away in casual open-concept pods. For added incentive, there’s the six-foot MVP trophy, the Wheel of Fortune laden with possible prizes and the candy jar stuffed with lottery-style tickets. But what’s earned CityMax.com a spot among the best companies to work for in B.C. goes beyond games to its culture of respect, camaraderie and accountability.

“It’s treating everyone as an adult,” says John Lyotier, vice-president of marketing. There are no managerial types hovering over shoulders here, just clearly set goals for the day, week, month and quarter up on the walls for all to see. Each day kicks off with a team check-in – complete with a morning song – and a group huddle interrupts the after-lunch lull, where staffers congratulate each other on completed projects or solicit input on “stuck points.”

In between, employees are free to work at their own pace, or take a trip upstairs to the loft packed with the requisite tech-industry toys: Rock Band, foosball and shuffleboard. Those who’ve been pulling extra hours can catch a few winks in the nap cove or grab some fresh air with director of greetings Jack, the office’s border collie-lab cross. And if it happens to be Thursday, a lunchtime street hockey game with rival Gastown startups is a good chance to blow off some steam.

The freewheeling philosophy embodies the independent spirit driving CityMax.com, which aims to provide websites to one million entrepreneurs by 2019. It’s already more than halfway there, having expanded its client base during one of the toughest years in recent memory by offering full-service support for online businesses throughout the U.S. and Canada.

The company also increased personnel by nearly 50 per cent this year. “We sort of took advantage of the fact that there’s a recession to grab top talent,” says Lyotier. Business manager Yasmin Garraway explains that personality trumps experience when it comes to hiring the right people. “You can teach the product,” she says.

A newer addition himself, Lyotier settled at CityMax.com after years job-hopping. It was the company’s respect for workers’ autonomy that conquered his self-described commitment-phobia. Then there’s the added earning potential. “This is one of the only companies that sort of encourages moonlighting,” Lyotier says, explaining that nearly half of CityMaxers enjoy a healthy second income from their own web-based businesses with the company’s full support.

Tuesday morning learning sessions keep the work/life balance in check, with experts coaching employees on extracurricular interests from how to get on the property ladder to naturopathic tips for fighting the flu. And every Friday, “rye day,” lunch is on the house. But for Lyotier, the company’s culture is best summed up at the end of each day: no one leaves the office without saying goodbye to the whole team.