The New Breed of Geek: Embracing Technology to Enhance Culture and Collaboration
By Jessica Gyles, Bits In Glass
When I tell people about Bits in Glass (BIG), initially the first thing I speak about is the work we do and the platforms we use. However, I quickly move onto the topic of our employees and the strong culture we have. As an HR professional, I’ve come to learn how important human interaction and connection is in the workplace. At BIG, we don’t only hire on skill set, but we hire based on our core values. These values truly do mean something to BIG, which is illustrated by Pamela Hampel, our Director of HR in her post.
Software consulting can come with its stereotypes, especially when it comes to Developers. They can be portrayed as introverted, or unsociable. However, to quote one of our Developers, Lee Humeniuk in his post “ Many of them [software developers] exercise regularly, make sure to spend a balanced amount of time looking at screens, eat their vegetables, and go to social events.”
There is a new breed of geek. So how can you implement culture while utilizing technology to keep these employees engaged?
Flexibility and Working Remotely
In today’s age, cities are getting larger, and workers are having to commute longer distances to come into the office. And let’s face it, life is complicated. By hiring employee’s who can work remotely, and offering a work from home policy, it facilitates trust with employees and the Business.
At BIG, we have employees across North America, including a large workforce of remote staff. Due to this, we utilize the cloud, allowing employees to truly to work wherever they are. Along with this, we have a co-location rotating system where employee’s spend time in other offices, providing valuable face to face interaction with other employees.
Professional Development and Training
It’s human nature to want to grow and learn. By providing employees with a budget for professional development, training, and certifications, it shows that we’re committed to our employees. At BIG, not only do we provide this, but developers are able to facilitate training opportunities for employees through what we call ‘Lunch and Learns’. These are done in-person, but as well presented through a web-hosted service allowing for online meetings, desktop sharing, and video conferencing.
Team building is essential for a cohesive work environment. Incorporating team building exercises in the workplace, and outside, builds strength within a team. One of our Delivery Manager’s has a completely remote team. Due to this, she has had to become creative with her team to facilitate engagement. Utilizing the web-hosted service, she plays ‘icebreakers’ to get to know one another better, finding a connection in commonality.
Using an instant messaging tool as well can facilitate this. Creating group chats for teams makes an easy way to communicate with one another. Not only does BIG utilize this for project work, but employee’s create groups based on external interests like music, pets, sports, etc. Employee’s post pictures of activities they are doing outside of work as well. Again, facilitating connection based on activities outside of the office.
Keeping employees updated about the Business and having that communicated top down to employees allows transparency that at times can be missing in the workplace. At BIG, our Partners send out a video every week with an update on projects, traction, and internal action. Taking the time to do this, allows employees to become linked to the organization as a whole.
At the end of the day, employees want to feel valued and appreciated in the office. With a large workforce of billable employees, there are constant stresses from the client to deliver. Offering forms of recognition to employees can help balance this stress. BIG’s recognition program is quite effective for all Lines of Business (LOB’s). Employees can recognize a team member(s) on our Performance Management platform that align back to our core values. As well, this can integrate to our messaging tool, so team members can see when someone gets recognized in real time. At the end of each quarter, the two employees who gave the most and received the most recognition, receive a physical trophy to put on their desk for the quarter. Each quarter, the trophies rotate to a new employee.
Engagement in the workplace is one of the most beneficial tools an Employer must have to keep their workforce satisfied. At BIG, we have a very active Social Club. Each event must be replicated in every location, along with the participation of remote staff. Staff found creative ways to use our messaging tool to create a scavenger hunt bot, which released clues once a week for a month. Teams were created focusing on bringing different LOB’s and locations together, including remote staff. Coordinating activities like this bring employees together while adding some friendly competition. Releasing stress in a positive way forms a strong team dynamic in the workplace.
These tools used with the focus on human capital, fosters teamwork, trust, and collaboration. Thus, architecting a fulfilled and happy workforce.
Interested in working for BIG? View our current opportunities here!
Jessica was born and raised in Toronto. Growing up as an only child, she was extremely shy and introverted, but her love for swimming introduced her to lifeguarding. This is where she found her confidence and voice, making her the life of the party! When she isn’t at work, you can find her eating her way around the city. She loves the outdoors and traveling, so if the sun is out, so is she!