The office windows have never been cleaned from the outside (at least I haven’t witnessed anything since mid-2015). That is until about a week or so ago. And boy, does it make a world of difference!
As amazing as it was for us to see Spidermen descend from the top floor to hose down and wipe off the dust and dirt, what I found more pleasantly surprising was the fact that it’s been more than two years since I joined the team. This is the longest I’ve been with any company and for good reason: the culture. The window cleaning seems a perfect metaphor of looking back or more accurately, wiping the lenses with which I view my current reality. In so doing, I get to see and reflect on the things about the company and its culture that we may be taking for granted or may no longer think of as unique to a company.
I started out in digital marketing but eventually tackled a number of tasks in different areas. Fast forward to now and I’ve switched gears towards working with people and projects more holistically. I can’t speak for everyone but it seems to me that the environment we work in, handling different projects and answering various needs whether it’s data or development needed, gives us some advantages. There is the chance to learn, the opportunity to apply theory, and the venue to hone skill, especially in the case of the developers.
There are of course drawbacks. For one thing, what you work on and what you could learn would depend on the project you’re assigned to and the client’s needs.
The Working Style
Someone is playing PS4 in the reception area. Another is strumming on a guitar. Others are churning out code, creating design or testing out software. It happens every so often in the office and to me, reflects how the company understands the nature of its industry and the workers involved.
Knowledge workers like developers, testers and designers are paid to think and perform non-routine tasks. It’s mentally challenging and draining work, which is why breaks are needed to prevent mental fatigue and burnout. People aren’t expected to be crunching out code every minute of every hour. We aren’t robots.
This is further emphasized by how we subscribe to the Agile methodology, in particular the Scrum framework of software development. In Scrum, we focus on idle work (say, features of a project that haven’t been implemented yet or aspects not addressed yet) rather than idle workers. This means NOT blindly assigning people to do tasks just to keep them busy and thus preventing delays and bottlenecks in work when actual project-critical work comes in. Most importantly, this translates to work that is meaningful to our projects and clients.
Our flexible schedules, undertime/offset privileges and other work arrangement agreements have to be some of the first things I boast about when people ask me about work. It’s another benefit that showcases how considerate Chromedia is. It’s conducive to the ever-sought after work-life balance.
To me, it also highlights how the company strikes a balance between wanting quality output from creative-type workers without mandating the rigors of typical 8-5 white-collar jobs — and yet still having the guidelines to moderate our behavior.
The Office Structure and Benefits
The startup setup and the relatively relaxed structure in work hierarchy, these also contribute to faster rollout of solutions and easier dialogue amongst employees. I don’t only refer to working with clients and projects, but to our working conditions and dealing with Chromedia as its employees.
In larger more corporate companies, the bureaucracy of decisions and processes makes dealing with employee concerns difficult and time-consuming. Here, however, the open lines of communication and the transparency with which management handles questions and such is refreshing. We can talk to our bosses directly.
I think we’re unique in our health coverage, as well and we have the advantage of choosing our own doctors — something traditional health maintenance organizations (HMOs) are strict about, not having to wait in line for a letter of authorization (LOA), and other health and dental benefits.
There’s food in the pantry, games and toys in the reception area, high speed WiFi access throughout the day — the makings of a good living room, I think and thus, it’s not surprising that the office feels like a home away from home. We’re here 5 days out of a week and basically live here, I guess, but we’re not complaining.
What’s more: good work is rewarded with a full stomach. Team dinners are something to look forward to together with anyone’s birthday, as are the bigger celebrations of our office outings and Christmas parties. But even sharing snacks in the pantry is cause enough for laughter, gossip, stories and lessons.
Really, the People
All these contribute to the culture of Chromedia, but what creates and keeps any culture alive is the people. Cheesy as it sounds, it’s also the truth. The major force behind why I enjoy being here is everyone at Chromedia and the team I get to work with. They’re hardworking folks with standards of quality that I see eye to eye with. They also have a flare for the random and the silly.
I look forward to the next time the window cleaners come down and I get to gawk at the clear windows together with this silly bunch.