What Google Can Learn from DeSmart? The Culture

Life at Google

I use to work at Google. It was nice. Free food, massages, colourful seats and comfortable beanbags. Some people would call it Golden Cage others Comfort Zone. The scientist have proven that the atmosphere at work and the workspace can have huge influence on productivity and satisfaction. My question was: should other companies copy Google or it is better if everyone creates it’s own culture? What kind of small things can you implement at the company to make it special and to boost productivity? Does it require a lot of effort and money to build a workspace, where people feel good and they can change something?

Be Cool – Have coolture

In many companies the culture is created by HR department. There is one lady, who knows how to make people happy. Multisport cards, free food and some other benefits. In other offices the boss is telling everyone what to do or what kind of X rules you should follow to make everyone happy. Nowadays modern office became a crucial factor for many people when choosing a job. Startups like Dropbox or Foursquare create unique workspaces for their employees. Other companies like Atlassian give their folks time for personal IT project or 5 paid days for charity projects. My question here was: what can a small software house do to differentiate and inspire people internally?

When I’ve joined Desmart I’ve noticed a few interesting habits they have. Many things has surprised me, but let’s start from the beginning.

The blackboard

Everything important is put on the board. OKRs, action plans for upcoming week and other important tasks. It allows you to keep your focus and get things done (the most important task first). Management and sales team have Agile approach to tasks. You meet with the team every week and discuss what needs to be done within next 5 working days. Each task is represented by yellow post-it card and have to answer the question: “which goals are we reaching finalising this task?”. Next Monday you look at the blackboard and remove all tasks that are completed. Such approach makes visible, what people in the office are doing and they can support themselves. Most important is that everyone in the team is focused on tasks that help you achieve goals.

Slippers and the red carpet

In the office you are not allowed to wear shoes. Even when you meet a client you can only have socks on your feet. Of course some geeks have their crazy slippers. At first it seems to be a little bit weird, but you adapt quickly when you see that everyone accepts this rule. Such approach gives you the opportunity to wear colourful socks and people can surprise you with Mickey Mouse on their feet.

The second interesting thing is a red soft carpet. I asked Piotr, CEO, where does it come from and he said, that at the beginning DeSmart had an office at the apartment and they had to feel comfortable. When they have moved to the new office the tradition was continued and now you feel like a king walking on the red carpet.

Friday breakfast

Every Friday one jar of Nutella is gone. People meet in the morning and discuss what was done recently and what challenge awaits you next week. Of course some of them are still sleeping after Saturday party, but that’s a different story. In general these coffee meetings are great time to help everyone focus their mind and make sure we all know what to do and where to put our energy.

Last Friday night

Once a month office changes into a crazy party place. People are partying, reception becomes a bar and there is a karaoke. People have fun and spend some good time together. Sometimes there are dedicated parties like Halloween (picture below). It makes the relationship between folks stronger. People get to know each other and talk informally about their passions, plans etc.

Rewarding people

There is an interesting tool, called bonus.ly, where people can reward each other. There is a specific amount of money per employee and each peer can nominate his co-worker giving him points. At the end of the month points change to financial bonuses. We will write about it a separate post.

English day

Maybe is sounds funny, but every Friday at Desmart you have to speak English. There are 2 reasons for that: we deal with international clients so we need to be in touch with the language and secondly it gives some space to use and learn new phrases and jokes from American and British movies. We are not native speakers, but when everyone starts speaking English many people lose their fear and talk a lot. It’s amazing, how it might impact your company. People (developers) are not afraid to talk with the client, which is a great advantage when you do a project.

D-day and other random things

Every quarter there is a D-Day (btw. there are many funny names starting with D or De like DeTeam or DeParty). D-day allows you to do, whatever you want – learn, create some project with your friends or contribute to society.

There are some random things in the office like: people who are late to work must bring sweets. Other days someone brings all his books and we have a library for a week. Or some people wear similar sweaters and it looks funny – see below. So many times small things make people laugh and this is the best way to get rid of stress and make every day unique and enjoyable.

Honesty and friendship

I am not sure if it’s a part of culture but people here are willing to help and you know that everyone cares about you. It’s like the famous sentence from “Fast and Furious” – “We are not the team, we are family”

What about your culture? Do you have any in your office? Share it with me in the comment below and let’s inspire each other!

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