Beg, Borrow, and Steal: A Recap of Our SXSW 2014 Presentation on Creating an Office Culture Folks Will Envy

Thanks to everyone who came to our SXSW discussion, “This Ain't Your Father's Office Anymore.” Michael Pazienza and I were honored to have the opportunity to share our culture at Mass Relevance with the world. We also really enjoyed hearing your ideas on how to transform the workplace from an office you have to go to a place where people will want to be.

We think you should beg, borrow, and steal to have a great culture. Beg your colleagues to be vocal about what they want out of the culture. Borrow the time when you need it. Adopt a flexible environment so employees can take vacation when they need it. Steal the best aspects of the best companies around you and bring in the core concepts into your own culture.



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We heard several great suggestions from the audience. Some of our favorites include:

  • Conversations with managers need to be and open 2-way, communication with each person asking what each do for the other.

  • Take employee surveys, but don’t just collect information, show that you’re using it to make change.

  • Intel has a month-long sabbatical for employees who have been there for 3 years.

  • Beer and Brains on a Friday afternoon for people to brainstorm various ideas over beers and food.

We had several questions during the talk about maintaining culture--so we’ve included our answers here. This comes from our experience maintaining a thriving culture in the midst of the extreme growth we’ve had at Mass Relevance over the last couple of years. We hope it helps you spread the happiness in your workplace.

How do you maintain culture as you grow?

Use the core values to drive all decisions. Quarterly exec off-site to get away and discuss company challenges and be sure to discuss culture every time. Also, hire based on skill and culture.

How do you tackle some of these culture ideas for a largely distributed team?

Look at your retention numbers. Backfilling employees is incredibly expensive but keeping them happier is cheaper. Flying remote members into the office is worth the expense. Use a google hangout / video conferencing to help get more face-time. Just adopt little things to increase workplace happiness. Doesn’t always have to be the grand idea.”

How do you keep your workplace happy?

For those interested, here are the raw notes taken from the session.

Brian Dainton's picture

Brian Dainton

As Spredfast’s SVP of Engineering, Brian is instrumental in driving and implementing new product development. He is a 15-year veteran of Austin high-tech startups, and has taken over a dozen commercial applications from napkin sketch to production. Prior to joining Spredfast, Brian co-founded Mass Relevance, which merged with Spredfast in 2014. Brian has a wealth of engineering and development experience having held roles at PeopleAdmin, Fiveruns, Optive Research (acquired by Tripos, Inc.), allmystuff, and Triology Software. Brian holds a B.S. in Computer Science from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.