…and the importance of good company culture and communication
Everyone harps on about company culture, but what is it really? For me, and for ANCHOVY., it all boils down to the openness and the friendliness that you witness on a daily basis. On my first day as an intern, the Office Manager at the time told me “In a week, they’ll all feel like family.” Needless to say I was skeptical, but she was right.
Within the week, I was happily stationed behind the kitchen island, chatting to people about their plans for the weekend and fixing them with their first cup of coffee for the day. Given my background in catering and my initial hesitance to approach people, the freedom to do whatever I wanted allowed me to approach relationship building from a non-traditional perspective.
It’s almost been two years since I first joined as an intern and ANCHOVY. continues to create a structure that promotes the continuation of a culture which comfortably integrates all new entrants, regardless of their background.
We always make sure there’s a company culture structure in place that any new entrant can easily plug into and feel part of.
Every morning at 8:30 sharp, the entire company gathers on the ground floor of the office, quickly dubbed ‘Scrum Area’ to share our weekly progress, concerns, priorities and knowledge. The structure of Scrum changes daily but remains constant from week to week; with top management providing a recap of the previous week and any priorities and concerns on Monday, presentations by the team happening on Tuesday and Thursday and a company brainstorming session on Wednesday. On Friday we put a pause on morning scrum and turn our attention to another event that brings us together…
Food has always been at the core of our company culture and through our love for food we originated Friday Cooking. We truly believe that food unites the entire company and we always make sure that it’s at the highlight of our Fridays. Every Friday two people are chosen to prepare breakfast or lunch for the entire company. This exercise encourages people from different departments to communicate and collaborate on a small, low pressure project and share their knowledge and love of food.
Everyone else gets to enjoy the food and it also ensures a time once a week where the entire company is eating together at the same time and can bond over a warm meal.
What once used to be bi-annual events to celebrate the beginning of shutdown week has this year turned into a quarterly event aimed at shuffling the departments around, creating new teams and putting together a day of fun and food aimed at approaching one of the hot topics of the company in a fun and stress free environment.
During the Christmas event last year, the theme for the event was company values where strategically chosen teams were put together to establish which values drew them to ANCHOVY. in the first place and which ones they’d like to carry on in the future. The first event of the year is aimed to centre around the theme of team building and communication. The aim is to establish what it takes to communicate effectively in an informal stress-free environment through games that more than serve to drive the message home.
But you might be asking, what does a morning meeting, lunch on a Friday or a quarterly event have to do with the culture? It has to do with culture because it’s entwined into our being.
Going back to what I said before; the ANCHOVY. Culture is very much centered around the values of openness and friendliness and these activities and events that pepper the company’s calendar of events constantly promote what we believe in. It’s the culture of coming together every morning to share our knowledge and our work that creates a culture where it’s easy to approach people and talk to them, and it’s just as easy for them to approach you.
Do Whatever You Want
One statement that always stuck with me was “You can do whatever you want.” Obviously societal norms and rules still apply, but by emphasising that our workplace isn’t regulated in the same way that any other workplace is, we further encourage people to break out of their shell and offer themselves up for any tasks that arise.
This is especially true for interns; those who are eager to learn and make an effort to pitch in and help whenever they can are always the ones who stand out the most. They’re also the interns who often end up becoming employees and they carry the same approach and mentality into their employment.
At the office, we don’t have any fixed desks or areas to work in; anyone is free to sit wherever and with whoever they want. We make sure that the office is laid out in a mix of rooms with desks, and rooms with sofas; rooms with house music, pop music or no music at all. The different environment for every room encourages people to move around depending on the work environment they need at the time. If I need a quiet room for an interview, then I know to go to top room or the boardroom, whereas if I want to work undistracted to the steady beat of pop music, I’ll go down to Creative studio.
The versatility of the office space contributes to an environment where employees are used to a constant shift of employees coming in and going out and a consequent shift in the vibe of the room.
We strongly believe in sharing knowledge and one of the ways to keep the knowledge ball moving is to keep talking, keep sharing information and resources and to learn more in general; both on a work level and on a personal level.
The culture of knowledge sharing and genuine interest in other people is what integrates our new interns and employees so quickly into our culture. On their first day, everyone is asking where they come from, what their educational and work background is, and what drove them to come to ANCHOVY.; just those small, typical questions open up the potential of a new working relationship and give way to more information sharing later on.
And it’s those small, continuous effort that really set the ANCHOVY. Culture apart.
Anyone can have Morning Scrum and Friday cooking and events every quarter, but it takes the daily nudges of an extra helping hand, a genuine interest in people and an office environment that works to keep the culture alive to really establish and maintain the culture.