An 18-Hole Mini-Golf Course in the Office? Yep

Some people take the team on a retreat to mini-golf or some other fun activity but if you're LinkedIn, you build the mini-golf course IN the office.

The professional-networking site started a fun contest to boost employee morale: A cube off! (It's kind of like a dance off, only with less dancing and more decorating your cube.)

More than 200 teams from around the world competed, transforming not just their cubicles but entire sections or floors. The results involved everything from Pokemon to pirates (yar!), palm trees and a hammock, a playground complete with swing set and an 18-hole mini-golf course. Employees voted on which ones they liked best and 11 awards were given out, including "Funniest," "Best Decade," "Out of This World" and "Most Transformed."

Allen Hom and his team from LinkedIn's college-recruiting department won the "Out of This World" award with their "In the Clouds" theme inspired by the movie "Up," where a retired balloon salesman ties thousands of balloons to his house and an adventure ensues. (See photo above)

They covered their 20-cube corner of LinkedIn with paper the color of blue sky, dotted it with clouds (that they learned how to build on the Internet) and topped it off with a college-pennant sun (this is the college-recruiting department after all), an Eiffel tower, a skydiver and small replica of the "Up" house with balloons tied to the top. Hom even went so far as to dress up like the eight-year old co-star of the animated film.

How did they wind up, um … "In the Clouds?!"

"Our tagline is, 'Taking College Recruiting to New Heights,'" Hom said, so, they thought that fit what they wanted to say about their department.

Each employee who participates is reimbursed for materials up to $25. So, multiply that by 20 and Hom's team could've gotten up to $500 for their design.

Though, he says they were resourceful, trying to use office supplies where they could.

In addition to building morale, Hom said, it fosters communications with other departments when people come by to admire their work. And, it puts their fun corporate style front and center when they bring someone in for an interview.

A "Pokemon"-themed cube won "Funniest," a cube with the word "BAM!" projected in huge letters in several different places won "Most Minimalist," a disco-themed design won "Best Decade," and a play-themed design complete with a swing set, hop scotch and monopoly signage won in the "Next Play" category.

So, is there a lot of pressure in a cube-off?

"We have a lot of competitive people here – that's one of the reasons we're such a strong company," said Stewart Grilli the mastermind behind the 18-hole mini-golf course that took up an entire floor. "There's a lot of competitive juices but it's always in good fun," Grilli said.

Grilli is an enterprise-relationship manager but his team consisted of 118 people spanning several departments, including sales and operations.

They broke up into sub-groups to design each hole. There's a golf cart that was created by building a frame on a toy car that someone's child had grown out of. The last few holes have a carnival theme, complete with side games, a Zoltar fortune-telling machine and treats such as popcorn, cotton candy and snow cones. For the big finish, when you sink the last hole, lights flash and music plays. That one was designed by a former intern. (And yes, they hired him!)

Their design won for "Most Transformed" and Grilli said he's talking to some of the executives about holding a company tournament at the golf course.

Building employee morale is as elusive as a unicorn for a lot of companies but both Hom and Grilli spoke in a tone that suggested they own "I Heart LinkedIn" T-shirts.

Not a bad investment at $25 per employee.

Of course, the winners got much more than just $25 – there was also the foam-board "Winner" sign to hang over their cube, bragging rights – and the ability to swing on swingset, play mini-golf, eat snow cones AND get your fortune told – while at work!

Still think that coffee-stained "Dilbert" cartoon you hung in your cube last year shows off your creativity?!

Check out all the winning LinkedIn "cribs" here.

— By Cindy Perman. Follow her on Twitter @ponyblog.