11 reasons you should take it upon yourself to improve your company’s culture
As an experience designer, I’m in love with the different ways that I interact with people every day. I often don’t notice them when they’re happening, but when I reflect, I think a lot about the little things that made me smile each day. So here’s a list of the things that make my office better than yours, and why you should take it upon yourself to make your office a better place to be:
Jen keeps a collection of assorted hand creams at her desk. And welcomes everyone to use them whenever possible. Today she showed me a new scent called, “The Forest” by Library of Flowers. She specifically bought it to appeal to the more “masculine” personalities in our office and I love that she thinks about the little things that will brighten peoples days.
I’ve still yet to find out who started this, but we have a weekly question board that someone organizes. Each week there is either a new question, a new add-to-this drawing, or something else interactive written on a giant sheet of paper in a spot where there’s a ton of foot traffic in our office. The fact that someone takes the 5–10 minutes out of their day each week to think of a new activity and write it on the board for everyone’s enjoyment makes me incredibly happy. This week I drew a band-aid in a bowl of cereal. All of the old papers get hung up on the wall for us and our clients to check out as we walk by. It makes a huge difference in my day to just pause and take a minute to read the answers that my friends write on the board.
Dan takes myself and my team to coffee sometimes and just lets us pour our hearts out about the stresses of that week. We don’t have to worry about filtering our feelings to him. We can talk shit, compliment someone, or just sit silently and enjoy our quad shot lattes. He doesn’t care what we want to talk about, just that we get some time away from our work to relax and de-stress.
Yoona is one of the most talented artists I’ve ever seen. She loves to paint abstract art but she is also incredible at realism. A week ago she used the giant chalkboard wall in our kitchen to paint a memorial portrait of Grace Lee Boggs and wrote “Rest In Power.” Without her taking the time out of her day to do that, I admittedly would’ve never known who Grace was or the wonderful things she fought for.
Bryan is one of the most passionate people I’ve met. We rarely get to talk because we’re on different teams, but I can hear him yelling across the office all the time. He gets incredibly worked up about his projects because he genuinely loves the games that he creates campaigns for. When there is a new game coming out that he’s excited about he’ll describe every detail of it to you if you’ll sit and listen. I rarely play video games but I love sitting and listening to people describe their passions to me.
Chris has a collection of action figures and other different types of collectibles that encompass his desk. You could walk up to him and ask him anything about any of the different pieces and he’ll tell you where it’s from, what it stands for, why he loves it, etc. It’s amazing how real and open people are in this industry.
Eva, Kirsten, Jake, and Caitlin will let me tell them wild stories from my weekend whenever I want. Regardless of the details, they’re always open to listening. Sometimes I make a fool of myself because I can be young and naive at times, but I can’t describe how much I value their advice and points-of-view. And their jokes. Lots and lots of jokes.
Maggie sometimes brings in Mighty-O donuts when our team has had a really busy or stressful week. I try not to eat donuts too often but she always gets the mini ones so I don’t feel guilty grabbing one (or two) and just enjoying that two minutes of mouth-watering bliss.
Robert posts the “Yiddish word of the day” on the northwest corkboard. It’s currently “Girbutz” which means “To scratch one’s balls.” or “To be lazy, e.g. ‘Sitting around all day scratching your balls’.” Nuff said.
Ryan has a painting at his desk that’s incredibly personal to him. It’s the art for a comic book that his father created and the main character is based off of Ryan. His father is no longer a part of his life but he’ll openly tell you stories about when he was and how that has changed his perspective on life.
Jason has a pile of chocolate squares sitting at his desk. From 85% cocoa to milk chocolate, there’s one for everyone. When I’ve had a shitty day or I just finished my lunch and I’m craving something sweet, I can always count on Jason to be there for my taste buds.
I could go on and on about the interactions that I have with my friends every day, but I’ve made my point. Company culture isn’t something that is magically brewed up in a cauldron by the HR team. It’s a collection of the personalities, points-of-view, and experiences that everyone in your office brings to work each day. If you want your office to be different then start making it different. If you start it, the people that are worth keeping around will begin to follow suit. And don’t ask for permission—ask for a raise when you’re recognized for helping create an environment that everyone wants to be a part of.