Culture is about more than just perks; but there’s that too.
When you hear most companies talk about their “company culture”, especially in tech — it’s often filled with the same old lines you hear everywhere else:
“We value integrity, teamwork, #hustle (yes, with the hashtag), good communication…”
The funny thing is, if any person joining your team didn’t care about those things — I’d question how well your company is being run to begin with; I’ve heard these types of values referred to as “fake” or “fluffy” values.
Likewise, you’ll read many careers pages that only focus on outlining the perks of working somewhere:
“Flexible work hours […] a loveable parrot at every desk, gummy worm machines in the break room…”
Perhaps too far in the opposite direction — focusing on perks assumes that employees care more about surface-level, sometimes frivolous “perks” make a workplace a good place to spend 40 (or more) hours a week.
So — what?
In an agency, the only thing that determines the quality of your output is your team. That’s right: the team is the only thing.
Tough Client? A good team can make it work. Low budget? A good team can make it work. Surprise deadline? A good team can make it work. You see what I’m getting at.
If nothing else, a good agency needs to focus on the value its people can deliver and a big part of that is making sure there’s a solid culture in place that not only keeps the team happy, productive, and inspires their continued best effort through aligning and celebrating core values.
But it’s not always that simple.
Introspection is everything
Like a high school graduate with their head in the clouds, Iversoft has admittedly spent time trying to “find itself” and played with alignments towards both “fluffy” values and attractive “perks” in attempt to define its company culture.
When you want to grow — either professionally or personally, it’s incredibly important to figure out what you care about. What do you value? What are the immovable objects of your personality, your being? That may seem a little too deep, but we knew when we started formalizing our team’s culture that deciding on the values, personality traits, and attitudes we wanted everyone in our team to share was going to be critical to our long term success. Here’s our highlight reel:
We decided early on that as a team, we care about work-life balance. For us — especially in an agency setting — that meant not making overtime and 60 hour weeks the norm. Balance with anything is important, and you’re achieving no better work with a burnt-out team than with a well-rested one.
That doesn’t mean the team doesn’t stay late, come in early, or otherwise pitch in when needed — but it means we know when to draw the line between infinitely “squeezing a few more things in” and “going heads down to get this project done.”
Learn from challenge
All-team meetings mean we can tackle challenges together.
We often say there’s nothing our team can’t do. That isn’t because we’re some group of geniuses — but rather because we don’t look at challenge as something to be afraid of. Au contraire — we get excited about it. In some cases — challenge means adapting to a new programming language in order to better serve our Clients. In others, it’s tackling an immensely complex architecture and still creating an amazing experience out of it.
Simply put — we thrive on challenge, and it’s an important piece of what pushes us to create our best work.
Everyone is an adult
Time is too valuable to spend it babysitting — and no one on the team expects to be micromanaged. There’s something to be said about having a “box” in which you know you can operate against certain goals or expectations, and being given nearly free reign to get there. We know you’re an adult, so we’re going to treat you like one. We make sure to empower our team with the tools they need to do their job. We expose them to situations in which their knowledge has weight.
However, that means there’s also an expectation that you are confident enough to make decisions and stand by them. It means that you look for opportunity — and not wait to be given it. And most importantly, it means that you focus on the greater goals we’re trying to achieve and leave your ego at the door.
Work hard — but have fun doing it
We don’t believe that work shouldn’t feel like work. Let’s be honest — we’re all intensely passionate about solving business challenges using technology. For most of the team — what we do doesn’t feel like work. But stray too far into “play” — and you get an office full of foosball aficionados and taco enthusiasts.
Alongside some of the values we align ourselves with, we believe in rewarding our employees for work well done.
Team-building — because well, we’re a team
Our last ziplining outing — a fun day out of the office.
Every quarter, we get out of the office and take part in a company-sponsored team-building activity of some sort. Most of the time, it’s a completely new activity to at least a few people: zip-lining, go-karting, trampolining, etc.
Part of trying something new is not always being great at it and that being OK. As you can imagine, it’s also a part of our culture that we like to highlight: it’s OK to fail, but it’s not OK to stay down when you fall — because we’re all here to bring each other back up.
Coffee, tea and beer — oh my!
How the fridge typically looks at the end of the week.
Perhaps the most common staple of a tech company’s fridge is a nice selection of beer. And on counter beside it? Infinite supplies of coffee and tea.
We hold beer Fridays every other Friday. If you’ve never taken part — it simply means we drop what we’re doing and gather around the kitchen table for a beer and relax after a week of hard work. For us — it’s an invaluable opportunity to remind ourselves that we’re not just co-workers, but humans with lives — who need a break every now and then. Conversation typically has nothing to do with work. Beer Friday is all about making time for play: a part of the creative process we’re very fond of.
Multi-skill agency environment
Because of our small team size, agile process, and varied types of Clients — our team has the opportunity to see the impact of what they’re working on from project to project. It’s exciting to not operate as a cog in a year-long product development cycle — and instead get your hands dirty across different industry verticals, functional area focuses, and more. Most of our staff enjoy seeing results often and quickly, giving them feedback and allowing them to iterate
Nearly everyone on our team is cross-functional in some way: whether that means you’re a mobile developer with some web experience, marketer with analytics skills, or even a project manager with some UX research chops. It’s a necessity with a team our size, and it’s part of what makes work challenging and exciting every single day.
What it means for our Clients
Meeting with our friends at RightBike
The way we work is perhaps just as important as the work we output.
They’re very much related in any company — but more so in an agency environment where our team is being hired — sometimes only temporarily — to achieve a particular goal, within a particular time frame. There’s very little room for waste; whether that means mistakes, miscommunications, or sub-optimal performance.
Everyone needs to be aligned, alert, and ready to deliver. That simply can’t happen if there isn’t an underlying culture to support it — or if all you have is a “fluffy” culture of hoo-rahs and back-patting. Perks alone don’t make it happen either — culture needs to be a reflection of why people want to come into work every day.
Our culture and how our team is treated means that everyone gets to bring our A-game to our work, and we don’t expect our Clients deserve anything less than that.
We’re always hiring too — so if this sounds like the right environment for you, let us know.