Company Culture: “Fun Work” Isn’t an Oxymoron

Is your office a dull work environment?

For many businesses, the workplace was and still is considered a very formal, quiet buildiing full of cubicles and filing cabinets.

While there’s nothing wrong with this, your company might benefit from a more relaxed, playful atmosphere.

Take Google for example.  Formed in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google’s company culture resembles a playground more than a workspace.  If you worked at Google, you could ride a bike through the 26-acre campus, play some volleyball with co-workers, play a round of pool, then slide down (literally) into the fully-functional cafeteria.

Not a bad lunch break, eh?

Now, you’re company doesn’t necessarily have to go this far (if you’ve got the dough, all the power to you), but this is just a good example of how the workplace is being transformed into an experience that heightens creativity, increases morale and improves overall performance of the company.

At Big Fish, we incorporate a few key elements into our company culture that have helped us thus far and we hope will help us to grow.  Our office, while small, allows our team to collaborate freely and share ideas seamlessly.  We are able to reach each other by literally turning around and saying, “Hey.”  We’d like to share with you a few things that we have learned and that work well for us.

Here are some ways that you can improve your company culture:

  • Create an open workspace

Instead of isolating your employees, tear down those walls and let everyone interact.  This is key for teamwork because it allows for a more relaxed, spacious place to think and share ideas.  Do your company a favor and trade barriers for collaboration.  We purposely don’t have cubicles because we encourage interaction among team members.

  • Start traditions

Implementing company traditions creates a sense of togetherness for your team.  It gives everyone something to look forward to and promotes unity in your company as a whole.  Have an annual cook-off or a weekly gathering at a restaurant or co-workers home.  At Big Fish, we have regular celebrations on Friday to end the work week.  We also try to eat together as a team once a month at the least.

  • Let every idea be heard

Every employee, despite rank and experience should be able to share a thought.  While you shouldn’t be a team of “yes men,” there should be room for ideas to be heard and thought about, even if it is a bad idea.  Shooting down an idea simply because a person has a lower rank or less experience only limits your company’s possibilities.  At meetings, we hear out every idea and as a team decide if it’s the best one or not.

  • Out-of-office bonding

Your team is a unit.  If you only spend time together in the office, the mood and relationships can become gloomy and impersonal.  Go bowling,  see a concert or just grab a drink together after work.  Bonding allows the team to learn about each other’s personalities, which improves overall cohesiveness and productivity.  We frequently attend concerts and play sports on the outside as a way to bond.

  • Make a creative board

Set aside a section in your office where anyone can draw, write or post anything they want.  A visual break from business jargon and symbols will refresh your team and give them the freedom to express themselves.  Inspiring quotes, cool drawings or even stick figure ninjas will make your team appreciate the workspace even more.  We have a huge whiteboard that is full of quotes and drawings as well as our goals for the week, month and year.  Also, all of our desks are glass, which allows us to doodle or make notes in a different way.

Your office doesn’t have to be like “The Office” or even like Google, Pixar or Zappos.  However, don’t make it like “Office Space” either.  Find a happy medium where your company can balance fun and work.  Yes, these two can function simultaneously.

Your company is a place where your team can be comfortable and focus on their individual tasks.  Don’t be afraid to have a little fun during your work day, but don’t make it all about the fun, either.  Having a good company culture is about getting the balance just right.  The successful ones are full of workhorses that respect the workplace, but are stimulated by a creative, open environment.  Be serious.  Be fun.

As the saying goes, “Work hard. Play hard.”


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