Gimme Some Sugar: A Quick Way to Make a Colleague’s Day

Has anyone ever brightened your otherwise gray morning by bringing you a cup of coffee? Pumped you up by giving you a high-five when you nailed that client presentation? Here at Atomic Object Ann Arbor, we have a way of showing gratitude to our fellow Atoms for the little ways they make our day (or week!). We call it a Sugarcube Board.

Atomic has a rich tradition of recognizing people for things done above and beyond (like our Proton awards), and folks often give each other a verbal “high-five” at our daily StandUp meetings. But what about the little things that make working together pleasant and make people feel seen and appreciated on a daily basis?

I used to be the office coordinator in our Ann Arbor office, a job that entailed lots of glue work that sometimes felt invisible. Someone once left me a sugarcube note describing how much they appreciated our fresh snacks and craft coffee. I could tell they noticed the care I put into making sure my colleagues felt valued and cared for, and it made me feel grateful and even more inspired in my work!

What is a Sugarcube Board?

Simply put, it’s a quick way to share brief notes of gratitude and appreciation.

The idea for our Sugarcube Board came from the Center for Positive Organizations at the University of Michigan. They’ve been acknowledging each other for years this way and even incorporate it into seminars they host for hundreds of people.

Our Sugarcube Board is a series of envelopes attached to a whiteboard, alphabetically arranged by name for every person in the office. Nearby, there are squares of brightly colored paper and Sharpies. Whenever inspiration hits, you can jot down a note and slip it into someone’s envelope. Something like, “You really nailed that client presentation!” or “Thanks for that cup of coffee this morning. It really brightened my day” go a long way toward boosting individual, and ultimately collective, morale. The notes can be anonymous or signed; either way, they make people feel good.

Feeling inspired? It’s easy to make your own Sugarcube Board. All you need are a few supplies and a little bit of gratitude.

Create your own Sugarcube Board.

What you’ll need:

  • A medium size whiteboard or equivalent area of wall space
  • Enough A6 (4.75”x6.5”) envelopes for everyone in your office
  • The same number of clip magnets to attach the envelopes to the whiteboard, or strong tape to attach them to the wall
  • Sharpies
  • Brightly colored 5”x5” squares of thick paper
  • A small table, rolling cart, or other way to keep the paper and sharpies handy


  • First, cut the flaps off the envelopes.
  • Write everyone’s first name on the envelopes.
  • Arrange the envelopes alphabetically by name on the whiteboard or wall using the magnets or tape.
  • Store the paper and Sharpies nearby for convenient use.

Get the ball rolling with the Sugarcube Board.

After you’ve created your Sugarcube Board, let everyone know the purpose of the board and how to acknowledge someone. Start by making a few yourself to get the ball rolling. Once someone feels the positive energy of a brief thank you or written high-five, they’ll be inspired to follow up with some sugar for someone else. Violá! People are feeling the love!

I hope you can create your own Sugarcube Board for your office. Even a virtual solution might be possible! Let’s express the gratitude we feel for the folks that go out of their way to make our work lives better.