EVORA has been growing fast, with over 100% team growth in the last 18 months alone. While such growth is exciting, we also had to overcome some challenges in order to keep and nurture our positive office culture. In this series of blog posts, I will take you on a journey about the creation of an engaging workplace in a growing company. This first article focuses on communication and collaboration.
Here are my 3 top tips:
1. Bring the Team Together More Frequently
There is so much going on in a growing company. Your sales team might have won three new projects, the technology team wants to release a new software update – not to mention an after-work drinks social to welcome new employees. How can you keep everyone in the loop? How can you make sure every single employee is aligned with the big vision of the company? It might seem obvious to founders and directors where the ship is headed, but the newest member on the ship might have no clue! That is why we introduced the weekly stand-up.
Once a week, we all come together – from the newest recruit to the Managing Director. Staff in the main office gather around the breakfast bar, while remote workers dial in via Skype. And that in itself is already quite important: to come together as one team on a regular basis fosters the bond between co-workers and builds a sense of community. We then update each other about the latest news and events happening in our world. Everyone can speak up, will be heard, and can ask questions. We are all – from top management to entry level employees – on top of what is going on and promote transparency within the company and support the alignment of people with the company’s goals. As you don’t want the meeting to be too long, I recommend keeping the stand-up to an absolute maximum of 30 minutes. That way you make sure that people give a short and snappy update which is relevant for everyone. Pro tip: use an alarm to signal when time is up.
2. Give Everyone a Voice and Promote Innovation (one of our Core Values!)
As Albert Einstein said: “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” The same applies to a business. Not only should you be on top of what is going on in your industry, but you should also endeavour to drive your sector forward with new ideas and innovations. To create a culture of engaged employees, and to promote participation and innovation throughout parts of the business, we launched our so-called lunchtime briefing sessions.
One speaker per session prepares a presentation of around 15 minutes. It can be about anything business related such as a legislation change relevant to the industry, an idea for a new client service or how to create an internship position within your organisation. Based on our experience, a lively Q&A session will follow each presentation. With lunchtime briefing sessions, you not only promote knowledge exchange, but you also empower your staff to contribute and have their voice heard. The cherry on the cake: employees also have the opportunity to practise their presentation skills. We reinforce the last point by handing out post-its and pens to all participants at the beginning and ask them to write down constructive feedback for the speaker. One last tip: record the sessions and upload them to your Intranet. In doing so, you will have an internal library full of knowledge and ideas from which not only current but also future employees will benefit.
3. Share Knowledge and Boost Employees’ Development Through Reading
Picture this: during lunch you are engaged in a casual conversation with your colleagues and one of them refers to that fantastic book she read about how to run a target-oriented business, which really opened her eyes. You ask for the book title, maybe even manage to make a note of it and then…well, that was it, you forget about it. Sound familiar? It has happened to me so often! This led to the idea of creating a book sharing corner in the main office.
Here is how it works: if someone has a book at home that they recommend others to read as well – and it can be anything from the Agile software development methodology to a book about how to run a sustainability-focused organisation – they can bring it to the office. All books are gathered above our fireplace and anyone can borrow it simply by checking the book out in a list (you don’t want books to get lost, do you?). It is such an easy project, bringing many advantages: employees widen their horizons and learn new things, they develop their skills by discovering new ideas and approaches, it boosts their creativity, and reading has even been proven to reduce stress. Plus: you gain a bit of extra space at home by having one book less in the shelf! Our next step might be to implement a ‘Book Club’ – a voluntary programme where a group of employees read the same book and meets regularly to discuss its content and relevance to the company. This could foster collaboration between employees who might not interact with each other very often and provide employees an opportunity to learn and grow. I’ll keep you posted on how this goes here at EVORA.
Creating an engaging workplace is always a work in progress. What is applicable for other companies might not work for your team, so the best approach is learning by doing. Give it a try and see if it is well received by your employees. Feel free to get in touch with me if you face similar challenges – I am always open for exchanging experiences and ideas. In my next blog post, I will write about how to make your office a pleasant and productive environment. Stay tuned!