Creating a culture of community

My position at the university allows me to meet with just about anyone and everyone on campus. It also allows me and the Web Communications team to get a bird’s eye view of how everyone on campus works internally and externally.

I was thinking about our team culture this morning as I looked around the office. I do my best work early in the morning so I tend to get in before everyone else. The Web and print areas are slightly different than the rest of the marketing office. The first thing you’ll notice is we work in large open areas instead of individual offices. The more I thought about it the more I realized how much we really do as a group and how all our decisions are based on benefiting the most amount of people.

Group Culture

Some things you’ll notice while walking through the Web area is the lack of walls and the abundance of whiteboards. All content, programming, and design brainstorming happens for all to see and comment on. Just because we are making a decision about how to write a headline it doesn’t mean a designer or developer wouldn’t have some insight and add to the discussion.

Beyond that it’s the little things you probably won’t notice at first glance. Between ten of us we share four phones. I have one, Jenn, our Web content administrator has one, the designers share one and the developers share one. We used to have less but added one for the designers in the past year as they started to become primary contacts for our clients around campus.

You’ll also notice we don’t have a printer on everyone’s desk. We actually don’t have a printer at all, we got rid of it a few months ago. The decision to remove it was two fold, we didn’t see the need to have a printer running and purchase toner for it when there is already one in the center for the marketing office. On the web we don’t print very much and when we do it gives us an excuse to get away from our desk for a few minutes.

Lastly between us ten we only have three trash cans. This may sound unnecessary to think about but it comes down to needs. There’s no need for all of us to have a trash can with just one or two items in it each day. The custodians come by twice a day and picking up ten trash cans would add an extra 2-3 minutes just in our department. We can walk a few extra steps to throw our stuff away which in the end keeps the cleaning crew happy and us from being lazy.

Use only what you need

History should not be a motivation for doing something. Question what is actually required to accomplish a task. If it makes sense for everyone to work in separate offices or have their own phone that’s okay. But if you can get by with a smaller space or less office “things” it’s less you have to worry about on a day-to-day basis. In the end you will find more time to focus on actual work that makes a difference.

Final note, the pic above shows the office with the lights on, this is typically not the case if you come visit us.