Rainier Fuclan / Culture / March 3rd, 2014

Hacking Our Way to a Happier Workplace

For years, the word “hacking” has had negative connotations – breaking into computers, doing nefarious deeds and Jonny Lee Miller. However, we prefer a more modern definition of hacking: finding ways to make processes quicker, more efficient and smarter. While there are all sorts of lifehacks, I recently started thinking about how 352 has hacked its worklife to improve many things around the office.

Recently, I watched Logan LaPlante (a 12-year old) give a TEDx talk about hacking his schooling to improve his education and happiness, and it struck me how similar Logan’s experience was to our own after we transitioned to agile development and marketing.

Just like Logan improved his outcomes, we’ve changed the way we work to promote productivity, morale and client satisfaction.

When we talk about how far we’ve come, it’s important to talk about how we got here. When our CEO, Geoff, introduced our re-branding internally, he told us that he felt like we were a 15-year-old startup. We had years of experience and knowledge, but we were fundamentally starting from square one. We completely revolutionized the way we approach work, and what it means to us. And it’s made an incredible difference.

We’ve always fostered an environment where our staff are free to be creative and try new things, but our restructuring actually made that creativity a core value, rather than a by-product. That made us a very special kind of startup – one with the knowledge to funnel creativity into improved outcomes for ourselves and our clients.

“Startups are fun; one of our core values is that celebrating wins fuels our culture. Keeping work from just being a place you clock in and out of every day is a key for us. Employees need to be energized, and that couldn’t be more important for a company like ours that relies on coming up with creative design, development, and marketing projects.” – Peter VanRysdam, Founding Partner

Of course, our transition to a startup mentality was informed by years of experience. We’ve given our employees the tools they need to work: the benefit of working in small teams, open office environments, as well as and trust and freedom from their colleagues.

Team Structure Hack

As a startup, teamwork is really encouraged to push the product or service out to your customers. Teamwork helps you stay connected with each other and always keeps the creativity tank flowing. Going back to our roots and forming small teams to focus on client projects as a whole, rather than being in silos and working independent of each other.

In a sense, each team functions as its own company within 352. Development, UX and marketing work in collaborative teams with the freedom to create client solutions as they see fit. On a daily basis, we run ourselves, plan, brainstorm, create, problem-solve and celebrate together.

This has really boosted our productivity and efficiency within the company as we can dedicate our expertise for each client and have the satisfaction of understanding the projects from the beginning. In addition, this brings about a family like atmosphere among teams. If one member has a roadblock on the project the team is there to help them through it. This degree of teamwork brings an unmatched level of happiness and satisfaction at work that is hard to find elsewhere. Overall, the teams create smart solutions, which create exceptional results.

Hacking the Office

Despite our startup mentality, we’ve always had traditional offices. Next week, we’re excited to be able to give our small teams the environment that won’t limit our creativity. Our new Gainesville office opens next Monday and both our Tampa and Atlanta offices are will be moving towards the sort of open offices that are the hallmark of a modern startup. There will be no walls to hinder collaboration, and no barriers to our teams working collaboratively to improve each other. We’re moving to spaces that will reinforce one our five core values:

Teamwork amplifies our talents and elevates our abilities.”

Find Your Own Hack

We’ve always encouraged 352 staff to work the way they need to to achieve the most. Things like flexible schedules and co-located offices play a part in making an incredible work life, but really we want the resources to be creative. And we’re moving in the right direction. One of the things that struck me most about Logan’s TEDx video is that he – at 12 – is able to verbalize so many of the things we all want from life, but don’t know how to implement. We’ve started hacking our own work environment, and we encourage you to do the same.

You don’t have to be a startup to change things up for the better. You just need to take a step in the right direction.