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How to Make Your Office Incredibly Awesome

How to Make Your Office Incredibly Awesome

If you’ve ever seen the movie Office Space, you know there are only two options for workplace culture: (1) Cubicles, TPS reports, and birthday parties where the haves get cake, and the Miltons get sad music and, (2) 37 pieces of flare.

Except, that is, if you work for any number of big and small companies across the world that are radically reshaping what office culture can (and should!) be. After all, what better way to keep employees motivated and working until the job is done than helping them actually enjoy office life? Let’s take a look at a few truly unique initiatives at some of the world’s most fun companies for a few cues and a lot of inspiration.

1. Bigstock’s Random Holiday Celebration

Thanksgiving, Christmas, Memorial Day. These are just a few of the many holidays most companies celebrate throughout the year, but how about National Doughnut Day? If you work for Shutterstock, that’s more than enough reason to roll up your sleeves and dig in.

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Earlier this June, a very humorous series of images appeared on the company’s blog, with employees and their children weighing the merits of fruit vs. doughnuts. Perfectly on brand, the images paid tribute to the best doughnut stock images in the company’s vaults. While the delectable glazed treats were undoubtedly delicious, the real benefit here was likely the boost in morale and creativity that comes with doing something a little different and swapping deadlines for play.

What This Means for You: Do a little research and find the wackiest holidays out there. Then have your office vote on the ones they’d most like to celebrate. Initiatives like this not only boost morale, but they also make great blog posts, giving your customers and clients an inside look into your company and establishing rapport—a fact you can use to convince your boss.

2. Comvert’s Personal Skatepark

There’s BYOB and then there’s BYOS—Build Your Own Skatepark. That’s what the Italian clothing company, Comvert, did when they converted this old movie house into a warehouse. That’d certainly provide a better way to let off steam than rummaging through the break room cupboards for a good round of stress eating.

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What This Means for You: Okay, so you probably don’t have the time, money or perhaps even interest to build an entire skate ramp. But that doesn’t mean you can’t outfit a good game room, complete with video games, ping pong, foosball, and hey, why not trampolines, too? This is another good one to put to employee vote.

3. Selgas Cano’s Outdoor/Indoor Retreat

Sure, most of us would prefer working outside to hunching our lives away in a windowless cubicle, but it’s not like we can plop our desks onto a dolly and haul them to the grass every time the sun peeks its way out from behind a wall of clouds (can you tell I live in Seattle?). This is one problem the architects at the Madrid branch of Selgas Cano don’t have to worry about, as their offices are made almost entirely from windows and are tucked away in a suburban forest. For knowledge workers of any stripe, this is the best kind of “fun” one can have: peace, quiet and plenty of natural inspiration.

What This Means for You: So maybe you can’t get your boss to replace all of your walls with windows, but you can bring the great outdoors to you. Decorate your personal office space with local plants, and see if you can outfit the hallways and break room with hanging plants and planter boxes. Tell your boss, “Nature is the source of all productivity.” It’s worth a shot!

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4. Shutterstock’s Hackathons

Hack-athons have become pretty commonplace at many tech companies these days, and it’s no wonder: In these intensive, 24-hour (usually) marathons, engineers, designers and even non-tech employees meet to brainstorm and build “crazy” new ideas. Many will be left to gather dust once the hackathon is done, while a precious few will be further developed into prominent new features or even new and important products in their own right.

Shutterstock is famous for their hackathons, with the initial idea for the company actually stemming from an event in which CEO and founder, Jon Oringer, participated over 9 years ago. Given the intense conditions, hackathons like this also build camaraderie at the same time as they’re possibly birthing the world’s biggest next idea. How’s that for a great combo?

What This Means for You: From 24-hour play festivals to all night design marathons and mini-NANOWRIMOs, hackathons aren’t the sole domain of the tech sphere. Order some pizza, stock up on the Mountain Dew, dial up the intensity, and host a hackathon of your own.

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5. Google’s…Um, Everything

No article on fun work environments would be complete without Google—the company that defines the concept. When it comes to office design itself, how do pods, swings, hammocks, ski gondolas, slides, pubs, forests and bowling alleys sound to you? (Take a peek at Google’s coolest offices here). Googlers also enjoy 20% time; an initiative that allows them to work on their own projects 20% of the time, as well as yoga classes, gyms, and easy access to healthy and delicious food, wherever they go.

What This Means for You: What can your workplace learn from Google? You mean… besides everything? While most companies won’t have the funds for Google-level perks, you can still argue for 20% time as an effective way to rejuvenate the mind and possibly even produce a useful and unexpected new feature. Google is also a great example of a way to give workspaces creativity and an individual feel without relying on cheesy posters and figurines. To decorate like Google, why not hold a hackathon specifically devoted to the subject, and see what creative spaces you can produce?

Takeaway

You may feel you work in the world’s most corporate, sanitized office, but chances are your colleagues are also looking for a little injection of fun. Fortunately, fun often leads to that business buzzword, “innovation”, and a well-reasoned argument should get your boss right on board. So hack your office with a little amusement, and make the office space of your dreams.

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Published on March 20, 2019

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

Have you ever felt lost in the minutia of your job?

As a business owner, I can relate to getting bogged down in the day to day operations of my business. Things like inventory, payroll, scheduling, purchasing and employee management take up the bulk of my day.

While these things are important and need to get done, focusing too much on the details can make you lose sight of the big picture. This is why having a good mission statement comes in handy.

What is a Mission Statement?

Put simply, a mission statement is an internal document that provides a clear purpose for the organization. It provides a common reference point for everyone in the organization to start from.

In other words, after reading your company’s mission statement, managers and employees should be able to answer the question “What are company’s main objectives?” For example, Southwest Airlines mission statement reads:[1]

“Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.”

In this single statement, Southwest conveys the company’s goals of providing the highest level of customer service as well as providing a good working environment for their employees.

Mission Statement VS. Vision Statement

While the mission and vision statements are related, there are subtle but distinct differences the you should be aware of.

First of all, a mission statement is designed primarily as an internal company document. It provides clarity and direction for managers and employees.

While there’s nothing wrong with sharing your company’s mission statement with the outside world, its intended audience is within the company.

While a mission statement provides a general framework for the organization, the vision statement is usually a more inspirational statement designed to motivate employees and inspire customers. Going back to Southwest Airlines, their vision statement reads:[2]

“To become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.”

This statement inspires good feeling from the customer while motivating the employees to achieve that vision.

What Does a Good Mission Statement Look Like?

When coming up with a mission statement, it’s important to take your time and do it right. Too often, people (especially entrepreneurs) just write down the first thing that comes to mind and they end up with worthless or (worse yet) a generic mission statement that is utterly useless.

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Remember, a mission statement should provide a common framework for everyone in your organization.

When writing a mission statement, you should always try to incorporate the following;

  • What we do?
  • How we do it?
  • Whom do we do it for?
  • What value are we bringing?

Now, you can see how tempting it is to just come up with something generic that ticks off those four boxes. Something like “We provide the best widgets available online for the consumer.”

After all, that did check off all the boxes:

What we do? Provide widgets.

How we do it? Online.

Who do we do it for? The consumer.

What value we bring? The best widgets.

The problem with this mission statement is that it could apply to any number of companies producing the same widget. There is nothing to distinguish your company or its widgets from any of your competitors widgets.

Compare that mission statement to this one:

“We provide the highest quality widgets directly to the consumer at an affordable price backed up with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If our clients aren’t 100% satisfied, we’ll make it right.”

What’s the difference?

Both mission statements answer all the same questions of what, how, whom and value. But in the second statement, they are differentiating their company from all other competitors by answering the question “what makes us unique”.

Another way to read that is, “Why you should buy from us.” In this example, it’s because our widgets are of the highest quality and we stand behind them 100%.

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You might have noticed the statement didn’t say that we sell widgets at the lowest possible price. That’s because we are emphasizing quality and satisfaction over price.

A different company’s mission statement may emphasize selling widgets at the lowest possible price with little to no mention of a guarantee.

Hallmarks of a Good Mission Statement

1. Keep It Brief

Your mission statement should be no longer than three sentences. This is not your company’s magnum opus.

You should be able to distill the what, how, who and why questions into a succinct message.

2. Have a Purpose

A company’s missions statement should include the reason it even exists.

Make clear exactly what the company does with statements like “We strive to provide our customers with …….”

3. Include a “How”

Take this as an opportunity to differentiate your company from its competitors.

How do you provide a product or service that’s different or better than how your competitor provides it?

4. Talk About the Value You Bring to the Table

This is where you can really set yourself apart from the competition. This is the “why” customers should buy from you.

Do you offer the lowest prices? Fastest delivery? Exceptional customer service? Whatever it is that sets you apart and gives your particular products, services or company an advantage talk about it in the mission statement.

5. Make Sure It’s Plausible

It’s okay to shoot for the stars just to settle for the moon, but not in a mission statement.

Being overly ambitious will only set you and your employees up for failure, hurt morale and make you lose credibility. You will also scare away potential investors if they think that you are not being realistic in your mission statement.

6. Make It Unique and Distinctive

Imagine if someone who knew nothing about your business walked in and saw how it was operating, then they read your mission statement. Would they be able to recognize that mission statement was attached to that business? If not re-work it.

7. Think Long Term

A mission statement should be narrow enough so that it provides a common framework for the existing business, but open enough to allow for longer term goals. It should be able to grow as the business grows.

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8. Get Feedback

This is very important, especially from managers and employees.

Getting their input can clarify how they currently see the company and their role within the organization. It’s also a good way to get people “on-board,” as studies show that people are more likely to go along with an idea if they feel included in the decision making process beforehand.

9. Review Often and Revise as Necessary

You should review the missions statement often for two reasons.

First, as a reminder of what the essence of the company is. It’s easy to forget when you are in the day to day grind of the business.

And two, to make sure that the mission statement is still relevant. Things change, and not everything can be anticipated at the time a mission statement was written.

For example, if a mission statement was written before the advent of the internet, a company that use to sell things door to door now probably has a website that people order from. You should always update the mission statement to reflect these changes.

The Value of Mission Statements: Why Go Through All of These in the First Place?

It may seem like a lot of work just for a few sentences that describe a company, but the value of a well written mission statement should not be discounted.

First of all, if you are an entrepreneur, crystallizing the what, how, whom and value questions will keep you focused on the core business and its values.

If you are a manager or other employee, knowing the company’s basic tenants will help inform your interactions with both customers and colleagues alike.

Strategic Planning

A relevant mission statement acts as a framework for strategic planning. It provides guidance and parameters for making strategic decisions for the future of the company.

Measuring Performance

By having the company’s mission in a concrete form, it also allows for an objective measurement of how well the organization is meeting its stated goals at any one time.

Management can identify strengths and weaknesses in the organization based on the criteria set forth in the mission statement and make decisions accordingly.

Solidifying the Company’s Goals and Values for Employees

Part of a well run organization is nurturing happy and productive employees.

As humans, we all have an innate need for both purpose and to be part of something larger than ourselves. Providing employees with a clearly defined mission statement helps to define their role in the larger organization. Thus, fulfilling both of these needs.

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Now I’m not saying that a mission statement can overcome low pay and poor working conditions, but with everything else being equal, it can contribute to a happier and more productive workforce.

To Hold Management Accountable

By creating a mission statement, a company is publicly stating its highest values and goals for the world to see. By doing so, you are inviting both the public and your employees to to scrutinize how well the company lives up to its ideals.

So if you state that you only provide the highest quality products, and then offer something less, it’s fair for both the public and the employees to question, and even call for a change in management.

If management doesn’t take the mission statement seriously, no one else will either; and the legitimate authority that management rely’s on will be diminished.

To Serve as an Example

This is the opposite side of the coin from the previous statement. If the highest levels of management are seen taking the mission statement seriously and actively managing within the framework of the statement, that attitude filters down throughout the organization.

After all, a good employee knows what’s important to their boss and will take the steps necessary to curry favor with them.

Finally, use the company’s mission statement as a way to define roles within the company. You can do this by giving each division in the company a copy of the mission statement and challenge the head of each division to create a mission statement for their respective departments.

Their individual mission statements should focus on how each department fits in and ultimately contributes to the success of the company’s overall mission statement. This serves as both a clarifying and a team building exercise for all parts of the organization.

Final Thoughts

Developing a mission statement is too often just an after-thought, especially for entrepreneurs. We tend to prioritize things that we perceive will give us the biggest “bang for our buck.”

Somehow, taking the time and effort to sit down and think seriously about the what, whom, how and value of our business seems like a waste of time. After all, we got in the business to make money and become successful, isn’t that all we need to know?

That mindset will probably get you started okay, but if you find yourself having any success at all, you’ll find that there really is such a thing as growing pains.

By putting in the time and effort to create a mission statement, you are laying the groundwork that will give you a path to follow in your growth. And isn’t building long term success what we are really after?

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Featured photo credit: Fab Lentz via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Southwest Airlines: About Page
[2] Fit Small Business: 10 Vision Statement Examples To Spark Your Imagination

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