As a small, growing business our Australian office works bloody hard. The team pull more late nights than I'm sure they'd like, and often have to muck in with a whole heap of tasks outside of their job description. Creative-come-IT-technician? Account manager moonlighting as a bin cleaner? Between the six of them, they do it all and more.
Yet our Brisbane office still has the most amazing atmosphere and culture. Everyone's happy to be in work, and each one of them is genuinely invested in the company.
So, what's the secret?
Well, after spending two months there for my recent secondment, I discovered the following. And it's really not rocket science...
Every day, the team downs tools and heads out for lunch. And more often than not, they go together as a team. Sometimes even for the full hour (gasp)! Why not? Your lunch break is there to be taken and you need a rest from your desks. After some good food and fresh air, everyone comes back in ready to power through the afternoon.
This one was totally foreign to me and has taken some getting used to. But in the grand scheme of things, I guess does it really matter if a staff member comes in at 9.15am if they stay late pretty much every day until 6pm? Or if once a week your lunch break runs over by 30 minutes? We all work over hours in this crazy industry, so as long as the work gets done by the deadline, and no one takes the piss, let’s loosen the reigns a little bit.
We’re a pretty good team in the UK and lots of friendships have formed across the agency. With that in mind, I was still surprised to see just how close-knit our Aussie colleagues are. They regularly socialise together after work, they see each other most weekends, and their partners and personal friendship groups all form part of the extended team too. They've even got their own Snapchat group. As if spending 85% of their lives together wasn't enough, they can’t resist sharing the other 15% via snaps. If that's not true friendship, I don't know what is.
I promise you, seeing the people you work with as more than just colleagues will make a huge difference to your attitude about work.
Working in a creative environment, especially in our industry, is so important. I know we're not all blessed with quirky warehouse buildings and barn conversions, but if there's one thing the Aussies have taught me it's the difference putting a little love into your work space can make. We spend so much time there after all.
If you're succulent obsessed: fill the shelves with them. If the toilet walls are a bit bare: hang up your favourite film posters. If you're chucking out a bean bag from home: stick it in the corner of a meeting room. Why not? If it fosters creativity and gives the place some personality, I can't see anyone complaining. You don't have to spend a fortune and it doesn't need to be meticulously planned. Work with what you've got and make your office a creative and comfortable place, where you actually want to spend time.
So, there we go. I did say it's not rocket science. Sometimes taking a step back – albeit a 10,000-mile step back – makes you realise it's the little things we can easily change that make the biggest difference.