Have you ever been stuck? Found yourself working on a project and repeatedly mulling over a problem only to find yourself ending up with the same result? And then someone else takes a look and recommends something which causes you to realize, I never thought of it like that before.
At Digital Telepathy, while we pride ourselves on achieving big results with small teams, we are also well aware that opening up a project to a multitude of minds is sometimes the key to making the best possible impact. Sometimes all you need is a little extra something to push you over the finish line, and here are some possible ways to find it: collaboration with your work peeps, designated spots around the office that inspire creativity, or workplace practices that encourage synergy. Or all of the above.
Get A Little Help From Your Friends
The layout of our office reinforces our views on teamwork. We have an open concept workspace that fosters collaboration. Our desks sit back-to-back with no cubicles, and even our conference rooms have glass walls — this is a constant reminder that if you need something, all you need to do is lean over to the person next to you and ask. Working amongst an amazing support group of peers who are willing to help move creative processes along is what makes peer camaraderie the cornerstone of our collaboration.
Devil’s advocate would point out that a possible issue could be constant badgering or disrespecting someone who is “in the zone”, but that’s when you utilize your sense of good timing. We often shoot each other instant messages to ask if we can steal a couple minutes of time, or we glance over to see if our co-workers are deep in Photoshop or deep in code. Attack accordingly (except not if they’re wearing construction worker headphones. Clear sign there is to be no attacking).
There’s A Room For That
There are times when talking things out just doesn’t cut it. Add that to the fact that we’re all extremely visual by nature, and therein lies a solution: whiteboards. Always armed with a stash of EXPO markers, our office has 10 whiteboards including one that swivels…at any time, we head on over and draw it out.
Even though we work in one huge space, we do have specified rooms that offer a little bit of privacy. There are similar resources in each conference room: a whiteboard that fills one whole wall, seating, and screens. And the extra bit of soul and inspiration comes from each room being a different theme: The Lodge, Edison, and Mid-Century. Why? Because being in a creative space can do wonders for your creative process. And it makes conference calls, meetings, and whiteboards sessions that much more fun.
Meeting of the Minds
Yes, our office is clearly set up as a giant invitation for us to join forces, but that’s only half of it. There are also workflows (that go beyond organic powwows by whiteboards) in place that ensure we really work together.
Every morning we have an all-staff 15-minute meeting that we call a “huddle”. A different employee presents something different each day: the status of a work project, personal insights on their past, present, or future, the building and implementation of a client pitch, etc. While the topics vary, it’s a daily opportunity to share experiences, grow the team, and engage the entire company. It keeps us invested in each other and up-to-date on what’s going on with the people around us.
And we don’t just stay on the same page through our morning huddles; we implement other intentional time to work together. Like, our development team has scheduled blocks of collaboration time where they can consult on various design projects. Designers might book an hour with a member of the dev team to get their opinion on a design challenge: maybe they need a hand in ideating the best way to index a resource library, or get some foresight on potential roadblocks that certain elements might present. Meeting with our comrades early and often ensures that there won’t be any surprises after the page has been approved by the client.
Everyone Wins With Collaboration
With all this talk of collaboration and constant touch with team members, I know what you’re thinking. All of this teamwork just seems…loud. I mean, what if someone prefers a bit of solitude and silence? Well, don’t worry, there’s always headphones. Just kidding (kinda). We’ve made sure to leave space in the office for places to retreat: a library, an outside patio with a couch, and various nooks and crannies in our 9000 sq ft space. In our office, people are free to roam and are not expected (or even encouraged) to sit at their desk all day. We go where we need to go to do what we need to do.
Whiteboard rooms, all-staff huddles, or communal spaces aside, these defined collaborative workspaces create an environment for our team to develop and grow, which in turn has a direct effect on our positive company culture and the work we produce. And while we all take pride in the client work we individually own, there is always the lingering realization that if I need some help, I’m in incredibly good company.