EP. 09

Fostering a Positive Work Culture in Our Agency

February 15, 2023

Why do we prioritize internal culture-driven initiatives?

Let's be honest, socializing in the workplace is challenging – especially in a remote setting. But what if it didn't have to be? What if you could go to work each day and feel like you're part of a team or even a community? That's where culture-driven initiatives come in!

You might be thinking: "Culture? That's such a boring word!" But trust us, it's anything but that. Culture is the glue that holds a workplace together, making it a fun, enjoyable, and flourishing place to be.

When you work at —or have a— remote team, the lack of physical interaction, cultural differences, and time zone differences can all contribute to a sense of disconnection and isolation. At 8020 we are prioritizing these issues and building towards creating a positive and encouraging workplace for every single member of our team.

In this episode of Insider, Natalia Garza (Ops Lead) and Sebastián Murillo (Head of Ops) explore why we think culture-driven initiatives are critical for business success. Jump in as we share some of our strategies for building strong peer relationships with our remote team in the no-code setting.

Benefits of fostering a culture-driven culture

When it comes to creating a workplace that people actually want to show up to every day (in our case, virtually), we believe culture-driven initiatives are the way to go! Here's why:

  1. Increased productivity: This is because the brain works much better when a person is feeling positive. At those times, individuals tend to be more creative and better at solving problems.
  2. Boost satisfaction at work: Research shows that people who have strong friendships at their workplace are seven times more likely to be engaged in their work and 50% more satisfied with their work.
  3. Foster a sense of belonging: One of the biggest struggles of remote workers is a sense of isolation, and office camaraderie can help you overcome that. Positive work culture is defined as one in which employees feel valued, respected, and supported. This type of culture is fostered through open communication, trust, and a sense of community among employees.
  4. Create shared goals: Strong friendships help create a sense of “we’re all in this together" (we'll never miss a chance to quote HSM). When employees feel that they are part of a positive and supportive work environment, they are more likely to be engaged and motivated in their work. They are also more likely to stay with the company for longer periods of time, which reduces turnover and the costs associated with recruiting and training new employees.
  5. Reduce conflict: Disagreements and minor conflicts are less likely to grow into something ugh-ugly and negative when everyone feels a sense of friendship and trust. When employees feel that they can openly share their ideas and collaborate with their colleagues, they are more likely to come up with new and creative solutions to problems. This can lead to improved products, services, and processes, which can ultimately lead to increased productivity and profits for the company.
Key takeaways:
  • Culture-driven initiatives give employees a sense of purpose and direction. When you have a clear understanding of what your company stands for and what it wants to achieve, it's a lot easier to get behind what you're doing and put in the effort to make it happen.
  • Who doesn't love a little extra motivation to help them do their best work? When the culture at your workplace feels like a good fit with your own values and beliefs, you're much more likely to feel invested in your work and motivated to contribute to your company's success.
  • A positive workplace culture also means that employees feel valued and appreciated, which can lead to higher job satisfaction and lower turnover rates.

A look into our culture-driven initiatives: Fika  

Meet the mother of our culture-driven initiatives: Fika. Full disclosure: We stole this word from the swedes. Fika is often translated as "a coffee and cake break", which is kind of correct, but really it is much more than that. Fika is a concept, a state of mind, an attitude, and an important part of Swedish culture. It means making time for friends and colleagues to share a cup of coffee (or tea) and a little something to eat.

We named our culture-driven initiatives Fika because this concept emphasizes the importance to make time to stop and socialize: to take a pause from your day. Under our Fika umbrella, we developed the following initiatives: Donut App, Gameday, Company Offsite, and a few random Slack Channels.

1. Using the Donut Slack app to connect with our peers

Donut is a Slack integration that randomly pairs team members for a virtual coffee or chats on a regular basis. The idea is to give team members an opportunity to have casual, one-on-one conversations and get to know each other on a personal level. These virtual hangouts can range from video calls to chat conversations, depending on the preferences of the team members involved.

Here are some of the features we are currently using for our 8020 team:

Virtual Watercooler

This is our official Donut Channel, and our virtual water cooler — a place on our Slack where we can interact with our peers just as it would naturally happen in an office space. The default channel name for this feature is #watercooler. But, we put our own twist and renamed ours #coffee-chat.

To help us out, the Donut App sends a random water cooler topic once a week to the channel. This encourages us to pop up and comment, send pictures, and chat about a random topic with our colleagues. Just like this example, where we went on a chupacabra rabbit hole.

Breakout DMs

Once a month, Donut will randomly pair up a small group of people from our team and will suggest we go for virtual coffee. Some notes on how this works for us:

  1. The Donut app automatically creates a new DM in Slack for paired teammates to discuss plans for their meetup.
  2. The team will decide if they want to have face-to-face Zoom interactions, or keep it casual in a DM.
  3. What's cool about this feature is that Donut lets you control the nature of the rooms (1-1  or more). We kept them to 3 to avoid awkward situations and balance the interaction.

This is an example of how the breakout DM starts in Slack. Donut makes it very easy to connect and schedule a meeting time with the selected teammates.

Anniversaries, birthdays, and celebrations

Donuts sends an automated message reminding our peers of important dates. This is a great opportunity to acknowledge the team for important work milestones, or even celebrate their birthdays.

If you have a hard time remembering important dates, this Donut feature will be a lifesaver for your team.

2. Having a monthly Gameday with our team

Not everyone is comfortable having verbal interactions with peers. We wanted to find different opportunities and creative outputs for our teammates to socialize.

Playing games with your coworkers is a fun and effective way to build stronger relationships and improve team dynamics. Games can also help to improve communication skills, as they often require teamwork, negotiation, and collaboration. When team members work together to achieve a common goal, they can learn how to better communicate their thoughts and ideas, as well as how to listen and respond to their colleagues.

Hence, we started our very own Gameday. Once a month, we book 30min during a Thursday morning to play an online game with our 8020 peers that want and can join.

We look for games with the following characteristics:

  • Multiplayer mode
  • Fun and easy to play
  • No extra equipment is required (consoles, etc.)

It's not always easy to find online games with these 3 characteristics – but not to worry. We did all the research so you don't have to. Here's a list of our top games to play in 8020:

As you can see from our smiles in the screenshots, this initiative has quickly become one of 8020's favorites. We always get a good laugh and a well-deserved break from all the week's heavy work.

3. Going on an annual company offsite

Offsites provide an opportunity for employees to connect and build stronger relationships with each other in a relaxed and fun environment. Whether it's through team-building activities, informal conversations, or simply hanging out together, we believe that offsites create a space for employees to get to know each other on a personal level. This can lead to improved collaboration, better communication, and a more positive work environment.

We aim to go on a company offsite once a year. For our last offsite, we went to La Paz, Baja California Sur, and had an absolute blast with our teammates. We had the opportunity to work together in a different environment, plan for the next year's agency strategy, and tackle some challenges as a team.

Last but not least, these golden opportunities can help to improve communication and collaboration skills, as well as encourage creative thinking and problem-solving. We have found that when employees return from an offsite feeling inspired and motivated, they can bring that energy back to the workplace and apply it to their no-code work.

4. Random Slack Channels in our workspace

Last but not least, we also have impromptu, day-to-day moments where we get the opportunity to bond with our peers. Although these are way more informal, we believe that they can paint a picture of the 8020 culture. Here're some of our Slack Channels where we get the chance to build rapport with our peers.

  • #lost-in-translation: A channel specially created by our non-native English speakers where we share some moments where English words, phrases, or sayings got lost in translation. In this example, you can see how Emm hilariously butchered "Devil's Advocate" into "Devil's Lawyer". The cute picture of him with his dog Prescott is the cherry on top.
  • #fitness: Don't worry, we're not workout junkies at 8020. But, most of our teammates do enjoy outdoor activities. In this channel, we share recreational hobbies that we get to do on our time off. In this example, Max Joles (our #1 adventurer) shared with us a-mazing pictures of his road trip.
  • #petsof8020: Needless to say, we love pets at 8020.  In this channel, we get to connect for our love of animals and get to know our team pets. In this example, Jake is showing off his model-looking pomeranian, Dante.
  • #songs-that-slap: In this channel, we share the music we are currently listening to, or fire hit songs we just discovered. Because who doesn't like to update their playlist? Seb is one of the main contributors to this channel.
Key takeaways:
  • Our internal initiatives aim to build stronger connections and foster a sense of community between our team members.
  • Fostering a positive culture in the workplace can also help employees achieve a better work-life balance. Leading to higher motivation and overall satisfaction.
  • When our 8020 peers from different departments and backgrounds get a chance to connect, they have the opportunity to learn about each other's roles and responsibilities, as well as exchange ideas and perspectives. This can help to foster a more inclusive and collaborative work environment, where team members feel valued and appreciated for their contributions.
  • A strong work culture is built on trust and respect. When employees feel that they are trusted and respected by their colleagues, they are more likely to trust and respect others in return.

What’s next for our culture-driven initiatives

In conclusion, culture-driven initiatives are a win-win for everyone involved. They promote a positive and cohesive work environment, increase employee engagement and motivation, and ultimately lead to better business outcomes. And who wouldn't want that?

In the close future, we aim to create more robust culture-driven initiatives. Focusing on strategies to incentivize clear communication, trust, clear expectations, and a sense of community.

Stay tuned! The next episode of Insider comes out in two weeks. In the meantime, we would love to know: What are some of your favorite culture-driven initiatives at work? Share them with us here.

See ya, no-coder!