I walk the stairs up to the office (I tend to be elevator adverse), and if I navigate the traffic just right, at times I am the first one to our "pod."
I switch the lights on if they aren't already, or, I leave them off if the sunlight is beaming in as it often does in Sunny Colorado.
I store a few things in the refrigerator, grab a glass of water, power on my laptop and walk downtown to get some local espresso.
When I'm back to the office after about a 15-minute outing, I'm welcomed by many of "neighbors," or fellow "pod-peeps."
"Hey there neighbor!"
"How are you?"
These are standard office greetings, yes?
Yes, they are. But, there is something different about the office greetings around our parts. Something... genuine. Honest. True. Welcome.
Do you know what I mean when I say welcome? I mean warm. I mean that the greeting is coming from a place of actual interest, a place where if there was a story to tell, the other person is there to listen. Whether it is about a project that they are elbow-deep in at work, an epic weekend of skiing, or, their child was awake sick all night with an ear infection. Or, when I come blasting in jabbering about my weekend of ice fishing and some crazy-good new dark chocolate I've discovered.
My point is, we're not on auto-pilot. We're genuinely interested in how our colleagues are in their work and, in their life outside of work. I will be the first to admit that I have at times "mlistened." Mlistening, coined by my former pod-neighbor, (who now resides in the pod across from mine) is when someone is talking and you are only partly listening. You think you're listening, but you’re also reading an email, or analyzing data, or thinking about your next meeting, and suddenly you realize you cannot properly do both simultaneously successfully. For me, it's usually, "I'm sorry, I was not listening to you at all, what were you just saying?" Or, "ummm wait, hang on, I’m not listening to you at all and need to get this email out... give me a few minutes,” (which usually results in – “oh it wasn't important anyway,” or “squirrel moment!” as we often say). It's a similar concept to mumbling. And, it's far worse indeed when the other person is in fact mumbling while you are mlistening.
Thank you for joining me on that detour.
As I settle into my space, I ensure my standing desk is at the proper height for the shoes I am wearing, load up my emails, take an inventory of the candy and goodies we keep by our pod and if it's a Monday, water our plants.
After this morning routine, I'm ready to officially begin my work day. Now, it's around 7AM.
I look at my teams’ Kanban board (yes, our Marketing Team uses Kanban!), cross reference it with my hand written high-priority items, self-checking in on the items I have in-progress or need to begin that day. In other words, I do "focus-check." I'm not sure if that's a term, but I like it.
I delve into my emails and either respond or leave unread if it requires more time and attention (I do this to not allow things to derail me and stay on track), unless it's a fire drill - then I proceed to handle it. Other items I file, delete, or add to our Kanban for further discussion/consideration. Or, if necessary, I'll plop a brief meeting on the calendar with a specific agenda to discuss ... or, simply walk over to the person, Skype, or make a phone call to get to the bottom of a matter. Email can certainly be efficient, but there is something to be said for getting off email and get to the bottom line as quick as possible to gain clarity and identify any action items.
Shortly thereafter, my boss swings by and says good morning to our team. We chat about work, life, typically share a laugh over something, and quickly discuss any high priority items.
Now, #workmode (accompanied by music that we often Bluetooth® to our pod speaker quietly…ahem quietly most of the time)
I set this stage a bit so that you may gain insight on the initial feel for what it’s like to enter my workspace on a typical day and attempt to articulate the subtle reasons why I love going in the office. As ‘they’ say, it’s often the little things that truly matter.
1. My voice is not only heard, it’s expected to be heard AND respected
One would have to try very hard to fly under the radar at Wazee Digital. The Senior Leadership Team (SLT), has fostered a team that notices when someone isn’t participating, communicating, or speaking their mind. And this is not coming from a place of pressure, but rather concern. We constantly have open dialogue irrespective of ‘titles,’ ideas and feedback are welcome, heard, valued, and addressed. When someone speaks, others listen – notwithstanding role, seniority, or department.
2. I am trusted and I trust others
I am trusted to get the job done, prioritize my work, and utilize the tools and resources I need to accomplish my goals and execute projects. And, I trust others to do the same. I trust our SLT is doing what is best for the company yet I also know that if I had a concern, they would listen. I trust that my boss will take my feedback, suggestions, and any concerns into account when making decisions. I trust my other colleagues to do what they need to do and implement tasks and projects in their own way. The term micro-management is non-existent at Wazee Digital.
3. I am encouraged to learn about areas of the business that are outside of my day-to-day
There is this notion of 80/20 when it comes to spending time at work doing and learning about things that are not part of our day-to-day or ‘fall outside of our wheelhouse’ so to speak: 80% of our time in our wheelhouse and 20% of our time outside of that wheelhouse. This can look like a lot of different things but some examples are: sitting in on meetings that you wouldn’t have otherwise attending just to get information and insights, joining a cross-departmental team such as “The Fun Committee,” as we have here, scheduling time with someone outside of your department to learn about their role, and/or flying to a customer meeting that you wouldn’t have otherwise met just to gather more information about the client.
Hence, my spending time writing this blog.
4. I am encouraged to not just think outside the box, but design new boxes and different shapes
On any given day, you’ll hear someone from SLT use the words: “be edgy, be fun, be creative, be provocative, be bold, be authentic, be innovative." These words are ingrained in the company and fully embraced. We don’t simply take things at face value. When something – anything comes up, from a task level to an initiative level, we look at it from every angle, examining every nook and cranny, and strategically move forward.
5. My ideas are thoughtfully considered and I am empowered to put them into fruition
All ideas are heard. Period. Not all of them are put into effect. But they are heard. And for the ones that are ‘accepted’ and in line with our overall strategy very little will stand in our way implementing it. Gather a team together and have at it - is the crux of our culture.
Case in point: We were all ice skating one day this winter as a fun team activity and I skated up to the side of the rink and mentioned to two of the SLT members that I think we should have yoga in our office.
I received the OK, put out some surveys to gather information and interest from my colleagues, contacted a fabulous yoga instructor I know in the area and, one thing led to another.
Now, a few months later. We have a Level 1 Vinyasa Flow class in the office once a week (Thursday’s from 3-4PM; which seems to be a good time for the majority).
6. Our office embodies what we do
We are a technology company with an Agile dev team that has trickled throughout the entire organization. Yet perhaps even more interesting than technology and SaaS products, is that Wazee Digital has more than 15 years of experience in digital content licensing, rights, and clearances, because of this, we have long-standing relationships with significant rights holders in the film, TV, sports, and advertising industries (all of whom rely on us for managing content that fuels their business). Wazee Digital blends technology with the Media & Entertainment industry and this shows all throughout our office with framed film posters of projects we had a part in, a ‘logo wall’ with impressive clients such as NCAA®, World Poker Tour®, National Geographic, Sony… and more. It’s fun just to walk around the office (and get your steps in).
7. I can work when I am most productive
I have the liberty to work at the time of the day that is optimal for me. My typical workday is from about 7AM to 3:45PM with breaks and lunch as needed. There are no specific times. I think it’s an unwritten consensus that being in the office somewhere between the hours of 7-5 is desirable so that we can all see one another and have face-to-face meetings. Yet, if it works for someone to be there at 6 and leave earlier in the afternoon – go for it. If it works for your respective team, the time of day in which one accomplishes their work is up to the individual. Early in the morning before you head to the office? Sure. Late in the evening without disruptions? Go for it. Weekend? If you wish.
And, there are the times when being productive happens outside the office. On Fridays (like today), I work from home. This works for me. I get a lot of planning, organizing, strategizing, and writing done on these days. It’s acceptable to work from home as needed and for our remote folks, it is of course, encouraged.
There are also days that I just need a change of pace. So, I head to a coffee shop and work from there.
Point being, if the work is done, the time of day and location of when and where it’s done is not too important.
8. I can get to know my colleagues on a more personal level
There is a consistent effort to organize socials, dinners, outings, and in-office casual gatherings so that we may get to know one another better, feel more comfortable working with one another, and hear about each other’s lives inside and outside of work.
I get to know my colleague’s children’s names, what kind of pets they have, where they grew up, what they enjoy doing on the weekends, and how they discovered Wazee Digital all in an hour or two. What a difference this makes when we work together the next time.
9. I can tune out and unplug when needed
Yes, it’s true, we have an Unlimited Vacation policy. Say what? Unlimited Vacation policies are starting to become embraced more and more by many progressive companies, especially in the tech industry. How does this work? Trust and respect.
It can be an afternoon, a day, a few days, a week… or more. It’s at one’s own discretion with their manager fully aware of the day(s) that they will be out of the office.
I know that if I need to – I can recharge. Head to the mountains, spend time on a beach, spend time with my love bugs (nephews), or simply have a staycation.
10. I am expected to have a life outside of work
“I have a dentist appointment on Tuesday at 10AM. Is that OK?”
Um yes, you have teeth. It’s OK to go to the dentist during business hours – especially given the fact that most dentists are not available at 8PM or 10AM on a Sunday.
“I’ll try to be there but my son has a hockey game.”
WHAT? Go to your son’s hockey game. Family first.
Get your stuff done and take care of yourself. It’s that simple.