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How do you create a real office culture?

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Question: "I feel like taking a bit of a risk at work and suggesting we actually create an office culture, not just work ourselves silly every day with no opportunities for blowing off steam, getting to know one another, or seeing each other as more than cubicle drones. Does anyone know how I'd begin? What can I do to ease people into a more chummy environment?” – Jennifer, Admin Support Agent

See comments below, and send your own question to Admin-Pro@nibm.net.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Charissa September 1, 2013 at 5:01 am

Create an Office Round Table where everyone participates and shares ideas/suggestions on any new techniques in computer programs, shortcut keys, procedures they feel could be improved on to help the office run smoothly, Tips they provide on how to improve team performance and office morale. This gives everyone the opportunity to be heard and creates a team environment. You may try implementing a mentor/coaching program and a cross training program. Have a job swap day or half a day, every one in the office swaps jobs with someone else. Others learn to understand and appreciate what their colleagues bring to the table.

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Mary August 30, 2013 at 11:07 am

Our department has gone through several years of culture building. We started with having Kirk Weisler-culture builder-come to work with us and from that started weekly Huddles and book studies (mostly centering on leadership, as all of us are leaders). The Huddles consist of a video (humorous or inspirational), passing of an award to someone in the department who went above and beyond, and an activity for team building. It brings us together and gets us to know each other on a more personal level.

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Mark August 30, 2013 at 10:25 am

We have a Fun Committee. Made up of volunteers, it is their task to come up with fun things for the staff to do at work or after-hours . We try to have at least one thing a month; most months have two activities. Participation in what they come up with is always voluntary.

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Kristin August 30, 2013 at 8:02 am

We actually have a “Fun Committee” in which we plan fun things to do: game show challenges, trivia contests, holiday decorating contests, etc. It gets the employees to work together to win little prizes for their department – jeans day, bagels, pizza lunch, etc. It also gets our 5 departments to interact together and get to know each other.

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Patti August 29, 2013 at 7:22 pm

We just moved from a very large space into a space about 1/3 the size. Some of us are very cozy. We have decorated with beach themed items purchased at a party store. Some of the offices have windows next to the doors. A couple of girls drew a mustache on the glass and we all stopped by to have a picture taken in the window getting the mustache as close to the right spot as possible. Some were quite unique and very cute. One day I started the “What Day is It” routine from Geico. Everyone participated and got a good laugh! We have an ice cream social a couple of times a year, and staff really enjoys the pot luck lunches.

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Theresa Kasel August 29, 2013 at 6:55 pm

I would suggest doing a monthly “happy hour” break. Maybe on the first Friday, everyone takes a break at 2:00. Have some sort of snack food and beverage — would your company pay for it?

Of, doing some sort of celebration for employee’s work anniversary — get everyone together to celebrate like above.

I worked at a place that had a “donut club.” Anyone could join it and you took turns buying donuts for the members on Friday. Where I was, there were about 15 people on the list, so you bought donuts about once every three months.

Another office had an “employee of the week” (Actually they called it the “Man of the Week” — it was a small architect office and the only female was me.) They had Polaroid photos of every employee and they drew a picture each week. Whoever’s picture they drew was the “employee of the week” and they brought in donuts for the office on Friday.

As you can see — most of my suggestions are food based, but from experience, I can tell you, food gets people to show up.

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Melodie Turk August 29, 2013 at 4:12 pm

Create a shared need and/or vision. You have to get everyone on the same page as to why they would want to do this — the whole, “what’s in it for me?”. Once you do this, implementation pretty much runs smoothly, of whatever new process or plan you put into place.

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