It's staggering, the multitude of different work practices and cultures you find in different offices these days.

Gone is that traditional model of what a typical office should be. Walk into 10 different offices, selected at random, in your nearest city, and you’re likely to find a lot of similarities.

But, you’re also likely to find some quirks, some not-so-traditional work practices, progressive ideas and new modes of working that are finding their feet more and more in the daily work routine.

We are fascinated with this, and have had our eyes well and truly opened when visiting neighbouring offices, and when we’ve spent time with clients in their own environment.

And, so, we had some questions for some of these businesses we’ve come across:

Do these non-traditional models of working… well, work?

So… we asked.

 

Why should we have more dog-friendly offices?

“I’d advise start-ups to allow the office to be dog-friendly, it’s great for people who have maybe been freelancers and have dogs, and might be worried about having to think about doggy day care. It really does help with communication too! When we all have our heads down and you suddenly get a paw on your leg, it breaks you out of your zone and makes the team speak to each other. The joint responsibility there really brings a team together!”

– Georgia Halston, Director at Halston Marketing

Georgia’s office is definitely tempting us at Art of Cloud to consider an office dog, as the perks definitely overshadow any doubts we might have. The Halston office pup, Trixie (pictured above), goes on at least five walks a day as the team use her as an excuse to get up, leave the office, and get some fresh air. This is really important when it comes to the team’s productivity and is great for Trixie, too, as she’s not cooped up inside all day. 

Why do offices think that table tennis is a good idea?

Imagine your typical ‘young, millennial, tech office’ and the items you see. It’s quite likely that you are seeing a table tennis table in the corner and we forgive you for thinking it’s an office gimmick with no purpose except to ‘look cool’. We kind of thought that, too, before we spoke to our friends at Panintelligence.

When we asked Panintelligence if there was a particular reason they had a table tennis table in the office, their answer made a lot of sense.  The game helped people work through problems, whether it was a disagreement between a team about what direction to go in, or just that simple mind-block we all get some days. And, similar to having Trixie in the office, it’s good to have a distraction.

Sometimes so people in the office don’t get too much in their own head with a project or stressed to the point they forget to take breaks. A bland office is an under-stimulating office. 

And here’s a video from Ken Miller, Product Director at Panintelligence, using table tennis as an analogy to explain predictive analytics. These guys really love their table tennis. 

Is free lunch and an unlimited holiday allowance a ridiculous idea?

Recently we’ve been down to London to do some training with Zappi, and their office was the kind of place you’d expect to see at Google headquarters. Basically, it was pretty cool; we almost got lost in a sea of beanbags, there were fridges just full of drinks and snacks and, honestly, we have started to feel like we need to step up our own office game.

When it got to lunchtime we found out that Zappi provide free lunch, every single day, for their employees (and us!), ordering from different local places and getting feedback from the staff each time so they can decide is they wanted to to reorder from that same place in the future.

As we are nosey, we asked the team about the other things  Zappi did that weren’t necessarily traditional office practice, and the topic of unlimited holiday allowance came up.

Unlimited holiday allowance has had it’s criticisms, and we can see how it can lead to some difficulty for staff, but it seems that Zappi have got it right and it’s a model that really works for their employees, without making them feel pressured not to take holiday.

Why is it important to have office buildings with a sense of community?

Within a few months of starting Art of Cloud we found ourselves moving to a new, bigger, more central, office at the Round Foundry in Leeds

Most businesses, especially ones in their first few years, have offices in shared spaces alongside loads of other start-ups, and we really noticed a a big difference in the way The Round Foundry managed this shared building compared to our first office.

It almost feels like one, big business family: we know our neighbours and spend time with them, and this atmosphere is exactly what the Round Foundry is trying to create:

 

“The Round Foundry Media Centre is not a typical office environment; it’s filled with creative people in an informal atmosphere and we love organising events for our clients to come together.” 

The Admin Team at Round Foundry Media Centre

“It can often be isolating to move into a new space, especially if you’re a small team or working on your own. So our aim is not just to provide office space, but to bring different organisations together and create a sense of community.”

-Alex Rose, Centre Manager at Round Foundry Media Centre

We don’t feel like we’re just tenants, and that’s the really important distinction between being part of a a community that you can thrive in, and renting a space you just work in.

Does flexible working produce a happier and more productive team?

We certainly hope so, and truly believe it does.

At Art of Cloud we have a diverse team with different needs and working habits. Allowing our team to spend some days working from home, to work differing hours if they need it, is exactly what works for us.

It might be that Ben needs to spend more time with his little one in the mornings, that Michael needs to spend a Friday summiting a mountain to clear his head, ready to do a few hours work from an airbnb on Saturday morning.

salesforce director mountain

“The trust is that the work will get done, it’ll get done well, and everybody is happier for it.”

-Michael Fleming, Co-Director at Art of Cloud (us!)

This doesn’t all mean that we don’t visit offices with traditional work cultures. That we believe the 9-5 is dying (or is it?) or that everything can be solved with an office dog and some bean bags. 

What works for one business and team might fall flat with another. But it’s pretty exciting that office culture is becoming so diverse and that there’s so much we can learn from the start-up next door.

Are you thinking about a Salesforce overhaul and feel that the Art of Cloud business culture fits in well with yours?