Our five office ‘rules’ and how our culture helped shape them

Rock, paper, scissors

Those of you who have visited the Radwood Communications office before might be a bit confused by the title of this blog post. Full disclosure to those who haven’t been… there’s only two of us (four if you count the cats). And we’re married. So it might seem a little strange I’m talking about office culture.

But, having worked in organisations from two to ten thousand, I can tell you that office culture exists no matter how many people work there. And it’s so important to define your culture early as it will shape how you work, who you hire and so much more.

In this blog post, I’ll share a tongue-in-cheek look at the culture at Radwood HQ. I’m not suggesting that you adopt these five ‘rules’ as they absolutely won’t work for everyone, but they should hopefully tell you a little bit more about me and how I work.

If you are interested in finding out more about shaping an office culture, I’d recommend having a read of Charles Handy’s ‘Understanding Organisations’. It’s available here on Amazon and is an oldie but a goodie! If you have any recommendations for further reading on the subject, I’d love to hear from you. It’s a topic that fascinates me. You can comment below.

1. Welcome to the office games

Who answers the door or makes the tea? In our office, this can only be settled one way – rock, paper, scissors. It started out as a bit of a joke but soon became law. Why? Because we don’t have or want a hierarchy. We are a partnership. One person’s work is no more important than the other as we are working towards a shared goal. Yes, we are an office of two but we’d still want this to be the case if we were 20 or 200. Equality and a team approach are really important to us both. I also like the idea of fate deciding. There have been a few times when I was setting up Radwood Communications when I had to take a leap of faith and hope the universe had my back – and this paid off. I feel the same way with rock, paper, scissors. If I end up having to make the brews then it must be my destiny.

2. Don't forget to check-in

Even when there are only two of you, internal communication is so important. I mentioned working towards a shared goal above but being clear what that goal is, the steps you’ll take to get there and making sure everyone understands their role is key to building a great organisational culture – and a successful business. Matt and I had a goal setting workshop at the start of 2020 and have a coffee shop meeting every week where we check-in on progress towards our goal. Getting out of the office is really important for us too so that we give ourselves the mental space to concentrate on where we’re going (rather than get caught up on our current to dos) and adjust our plan as needed. The caffeine helps too!

3. Always break for lunch

We brought this rule in as this was something I was terrible at doing before I set up my own business. Some days I’d totally lose track of time and wouldn’t eat lunch at all. Most days I’d eat at my desk and work through. This left me tired, grumpy and not firing on all cylinders. But that was the culture in that business, no one paused for lunch and I didn’t feel I could be the one to break the mould. When I started working for myself, I vowed to place more value on my health and wellbeing and change this bad habit. Now, we always have at least a 20-minute break for lunch and I return to my desk refreshed and ready to smash it in the afternoon. It’s better for me and it’s better for my clients as I have so much more energy.  No more mid-afternoon slumps or crumbs in the keyboard.

4. Tidy desk = tidy mind

In a previous role, I was part of a project team responsible for a major office refurbishment. Many people were confused about why I was involved. “What does internal comms have to do with a refurb” they’d ask? Well, EVERYTHING, I’d reply! The environment you work in has a massive impact on how you feel and work. Take Genuinely, an American consultancy and training firm. Their whole office was shaped by their collaborative and team-oriented culture and designed to enhance it even further. 

To make sure our office reflects our culture we have Matt’s photography up on the wall, corkboards and magic whiteboard paper to share inspiration and track progress and foldable desks for when we need to transform the office into a studio for portrait photoshoots. A lovely, creative yet efficient space. We also have a clean desk policy and tidy our desks every night before we finish. It helps us get a productive start the following day if we’re not having to clean up dirty mugs or crisp packets from the night before. 

5. Friday fun time

Some of the best jobs I ever had are companies that have a ‘work hard, play hard’ culture where afterwork socialising on a Friday was a sure thing. I’m a bit old to do the play hard thing anymore but I didn’t want to lose that ‘Friday feeling’ magic when I started working for myself – so at 5pm every Friday, we turn the music up and crack open a beer (or wine, or gin – I’m not fussy). If I can, I try to finish then and start my weekend. If I can’t, I’ll have the drink at my desk and feel grateful that I have the freedom to do that (to reassure, I do limit myself to the one if I have lots of work to do!). This idea of ‘having fun’ while you work is so important to me – and while you can absolutely do this without a drink in hand, I like that we mark the end of the week in this way (even if we do end up working at the weekend). Life’s too short to be serious all the time!

So with that in mind...

Cheers from my office to yours – I hope you have a great weekend J

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