In January, I started a 40-hour/week contract position with a smart, savvy and totally hip (I don’t use that word lightly—this place is hip) digital marketing agency. Working there has really informed how I view good collaboration and healthy work environments.
The collection of strategists, creatives and producers working smoothly together and in parallel with each other is pretty amazing. Sure, people get stressed. But it’s the good kind of stress that leaves you in slightly stunned wonder at the end of each day (“How did we possibly get that much done?”).
From my very new and somewhat-outsider perspective, here’s what I think is going on:
Everyone is allowed and expected to be flexible in his or her role. The strategists come up with copy when the writers aren’t available. Writers create timelines when the producers are on other projects. The producers dig for good imagery when the designers are booked up and the designers are fierce strategists. Everyone defers to the “expert” in the room when one is available, but no one works in a tightly defined box.
People laugh. Often. And loudly. All thirty-plus staffers sit at two gigantic tables and work next to and across from each other, so laughter travels fast.
People like each other. The agency doesn’t hire employees on a whim. It’s a lengthy get-to-know you process in which cultural fit is highly valued. It’s easy to work with people you like. Since it’s easy, work gets done quickly, efficiently and with minor (if any) pauses to mediate personnel issues.
It’s not personal or hierarchical. Since the majority of the work done is on behalf of an outside client, the best idea always wins. It doesn’t matter who came up with it. This type of mentality serves all parties well. The clients are happy with the level of thought and execution put in at all levels of all projects and they continue to send the agency business.
In short, it’s a pretty cool and functional place.