Is Your Work Environment Conducive to Doing Your Best Work?

Does your company’s culture fit with what your company does?
From the suits, white shirts and wingtips of Big Blue (IBM) to the Google campus of today, corporate culture helps define a company.

IBM Dress Code

IBM (suits, white shirts and black wingtips)

Google Campus

Google Campus

For most of my career, I have been charged with the development and maintenance of the workplace environment. In the advertising agency space, creativity and strategy drive our business. People hire us for our ability to come up with creative and strategic solutions to their marketing challenges. So it only makes sense to structure an environment that fosters open, creative communication, group thinking and teamwork. But at the end of the day, the people make all the difference. Can they contribute and thrive in this environment? Are their personal lives (“resident culture”– customs, values, beliefs, etc….) outside of the workplace in any way a conflict with the company’s core values and culture?

From Understanding Corporate Culture by Tim Bryce

From Understanding Corporate Culture by Tim Bryce

The goal is to assemble a staff that can work together and support each other in this culture. Competitiveness is a good thing, but more so when it is channeled externally rather than internally amongst co-workers.

So how do you foster the right workplace environment for your business? Well I can’t speak to all types of businesses, but I can tell you what works in our world with the hope that some may also work for you.

  1. Start by leading by example. If you want fun, open, ongoing communication, make yourself available, be engaged with your team and show them it is ok to laugh and joke in the workplace.
  2. If you want to forward the concept of idea sharing and brainstorming, set up times and objectives for this to happen. If the team can see the advantage and enjoy the process, they will naturally begin this process amongst themselves.
  3. Teamwork is critical in most companies. I have found that occasional group activities, lunches (formally set and informally occurring), holiday parties, a drink after work, and personal and company information sharing all helps bring a team together.  People talk about their business associates being like family, but is it really?

That is difficult to achieve, but getting people to care about one another and enjoy working together, can be a byproduct of the right work environment. One example I will share is to begin or carry on a tradition with your team. We have a small company and we have made it a tradition to hold our Christmas party in my home. I find it warmer and more conducive to enjoying one another’s company and having fun. In addition, we have produced an annual Christmas video that people seem to look forward to watching. It spoofs everyone, including me, through skits and looks back at funny things that have happened during the past year. It is a lot of work, but a labor of love.

Maybe a video is not for you, but work to develop your own tradition and establish a culture in your company that makes it a place people want to work and one that can hopefully bring out the company’s best work. In our case, the right people, fun, open communication, idea sharing and teamwork are key.