You spend 8 hours a day -- 1/3 of your day -- working at the office. People say it's important to love your work; I say it's important to love the people you work with. My company is better than yours because I don't consider my team members employees; rather, I look at them as family. I can spend all day and night with them working, drinking, brainstorming, and having fun.
A vibrant company culture builds trust, encourages participation and collaboration, and improves retention of your best people.
Last week we had to say goodbye to one of our team members. Her goodbye brought many of us to tears, as we'll deeply miss her contributions to the team, and this got me thinking: why are we so shaken up by her departure? What have we done as a company to build such a loving and supportive system amongst our team members?
While your employees complain about team meetings, our team is energetic, contributive, and supportive at team meetings; while your employees live for the weekends, our team doesn't distinguish between work and life.
This is how we do it.
Culture starts from the top
Alex, our CEO, opens the apartment to EVERYONE. Not only is it our office space, but it's also our game room, our workout area, and lodging for visitors from out of town. All team members are actively encouraged to invite people for lunch, dinner, or to our Friday night Bunny Hours (more on this later).
This actively open, inviting theme across the office creates an atmosphere that is productive, social, and welcoming; as if you're at home and never want to leave.
Hire the right people
You can't have a vibrant team culture unless you hire the right people. One of the most important questions I ask during an interview is, "What value can you add to the company culture?"
I've brought workouts, chess, and personal finance savvy to the company culture. Other team members have brought in soccer, board games, dart boards, music, and slack-lining to the company culture.
If you can't add to the company culture, then you don't belong on our team.
Keep the team connected all the times
We have a unique startup because we have two headquarters: San Francisco and Bogotá. We're a small startup (less than 40 people), and it's a challenge to keep everyone connected.
This is why we utilize Sqwiggle, which allows us to visually see our team members at all times and easily talk to them with one click. It's more personal than Skype because the visual aspect makes a call feel less intrusive.
When using Skype, I usually send a message before calling by asking, "Are you busy? Can we hop on a call?"
With Sqwiggle, I just click on their picture and the call is immediately started. If they're busy, I can see that on their screen shot so I know better than to bother them unless it's urgent.
Weekly team meetings
I used to avoid company-wide meetings like the plague, but after seeing how it's done in Bunny Inc, I believe they're a critical part of building a strong company culture.
Every Friday, we get together on Google Hangout to tell the team about 4 topics:
- What did I accomplish?
- What did I learn?
- What cool thing did I do?
- Which team member do I recognize this week for their impressive work?
Every team member gets 45 seconds - 1 minute to talk about these four things. It keeps the team feeling connected and further establishes the feeling of a family.
Monthly team activities
Every week we cast a vote for our monthly activity. We've gone trampolining, go-kart racing, played ultimate frisbee, practiced acro yoga, and went paint balling.
Not only are our monthly outings fun, but it allows us to invite our friends and family from outside the company, so that they too feel like they're party of the Bunny Inc team. Many of our team members are family oriented, so if we have their families on our side, then it allows us to keep our team members happy, engaged with the team, and motivated to work as hard as possible.
I believe in a healthy mind and body. This is why I instituted morning workouts here at Bunny Inc. Any team member can join me in the mornings for a workout full of boxing, weight-training, and cardio.
Daily team lunches
We don't go out to lunch; our CNO (Chief Nutrition Officer) cooks up a storm (Monday - Thursday), allowing us to save time and money with lunch -- it's the best company perk that we have. We eat lunch together pretty much every day, giving us time to tell stories of what we're doing outside of work.
Anyone can burn out from too much work; that's why it's nice to have multiple games around the office where people can relax and rejuvenate their mind and body. We play darts, play Heads Up after lunch, and play 2 vs 2 chess.
I've found that breaking up your day in multiple chunks of work, as oppose to working for 4 hours straight at a time, makes your team happier and more productive.
Designated social night
Every Friday night we hold Bunny Hour, where we invite other entrepreneurs in the city to our office for drinks, games, and networking. It's gone extremely well thus far, and our team has invited people from Wikipedia to Startup Chile.
Public KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)
One of the most important initiatives we've incorporated here at Bunny Inc are public KPIs. This allows every team member to see how well and how effective another team member is.
We utilize Geckoboard to create a real-time dashboard.
This is critical, as it cements our culture as one of data-driven productivity. We want our team members to of course love to work here, but more importantly, we want them to encourage each other to work hard, hit goals, and work together to build a successful business.
Work with people that you love and you'll never work a day in your life.