Workplace Culture: A BridgeWorks Case Study

In every speech, training, or consultation, BridgeWorks generational experts pinpoint exactly what makes each generation tick. We pride ourselves on crafting actionable tips to help recruit, retain, and engage each generation. We put the focus on your organization, your generational gaps, and your needs.

Cue Jan Brady: but what about ussssss? Sure, we’re good at giving the advice, but can we take it too? It’s possible many of our clients are thinking to themselves, Wait, what do these people actually do in their own office? Can they put their money where their mouths are?

If we were a betting office*, we would say yes.

Here’s a look at a few ways we think the BW office embodies the attractive qualities of the changing workplace.

(*We are.)

Shared Goals Made Visual

Like many companies, we have quarterly sales goals, but instead of sending out a weekly spreadsheet that everyone opens, yawns over, then closes, we’ve gone another direction. We printed a huge poster, pinned it to a wall for everyone to see, and made a group activity out of physically crossing off milestones as we hit them. It’s interactive and fun—adults still get the giggles when you pull out stickers and markers—and it’s a constant reminder of what everyone’s hard work achieves and how much can be accomplished together. Collaboration for the win!

A bonus for our authenticity-seeking Millennials? These shared, on-display goals show the transparency of our organization—getting details from our “higher ups” is a breeze. Our CEO isn’t shy about praising us when we’re killin’ it, and she won’t hesitate to tell us when we could push harder. In the end, knowing the truth and nothing but the truth has proven to be motivating in and of itself.

The Treehouse: Redefining Meeting Spaces

There’s a reason Millennials find the tech industry so sexy—careers in that world usually come with “perks” that make work more like hangin’ out, having fun, and eatin’ apps. Tech giants like Apple, Google, and Amazon give their employees incentives like free snacks, massages, and unique lounges for collab sessions that more closely resemble your old backyard treehouse than they do an office. While seeking to diversify the work spaces in our office, we knew we didn’t want to be the next Apple. We were never interested in installing nap pods, and getting our own smoothie café was unrealistic, but a chill place to work sounded pretty great. Luckily, we had a room giving off enough “bad vibes” that everyone voted to sacrifice it for an experimental revamp.

The room was originally furnished with a huge wooden table that took up most of the space; it felt more like a place to lay someone off than have a fun brainstorm. We gave the table the ax (pun intended) and bought a comfy couch and armchair. We covered a wall with whiteboard paint and installed a TV. We even called on our resident handyman, BWian Phil Gwoke, to install some shelves and a mirror (and it only took him a full year!). The only thing that didn’t get the ax was our core values wall art, obviously. Since our little makeover, what used to be the lackluster room of the office is now the most coveted workspace of BW HQ.

Granted, not every company has the ability (or space, or budget, or need, for that matter) to tear down a conference room, and by no means does a company need a zen room to be attractive or successful. But it’s definitely a value-add that emphasizes results over process.

Roots, not rank

The org chart can sometimes feel black and white: either you have a traditional top-down flow, or you throw out hierarchy all together for the completely linear, no-titles route. Perhaps you’ll be happy to hear that a hybrid is possible. BridgeWorks constructed a little something we like to call the Accountability Tree. Instead of starting with concentrated power at the top, trickling down to the bottom, the core of our company starts in the ground with the “roots”, who represent the five main divisions of our business: research and development, sales, communications, operations, and chief. The heads of each department are called integrators, and they oversee their departments and people to make the tree grow tall.

How exactly is this structure different, besides being called something earthy that Millennials will love? First, the roots are more than just the overseers of their departments. They meet weekly to talk about the highs and lows within their departments. They provide support for one another, and they strategize over new goals for individual departments and for the company as a whole. Really, what this all means is that our roots maintain a strong, reliable foundation for the company to build on. Without them, the rest of us would have a hard time uniting into an organized, productive cohort. But without the rest of us—the leaves, branches, and trunk—the roots would be just what they are—underground roots with no body, no photosynthesis, and no way to thrive. How’s that for your definition of a metaphor?

Work is fun and fun is work

We evangelize the concept of fun because it’s easily what makes BridgeWorks, BridgeWorks. With a small team, it’s easy to already feel close to one another, so we’re lucky from the get-go. Add in bonding lunches, experiential rewards, mini-celebrations for completed projects, and an absurd number of daily memes and GIFs, and you’ve got an engaged and productive crew. From something as small as impromptu fro-yo to something as large as a team trip to Chicago to see Hamilton (I had to mention it, don’t be mad), team bonding, as cheesy as it sounds, is essential to the modern workplace. The key is to identify bonding opportunities that work for your unique office, which can be as easy as asking around.

It can certainly be hard to walk the line between fun and chaos, and personal and professional. In many instances, generational dynamics take a backseat to personal preferences—some people are simply more willing to let their hair down than others. We BridgeWorkians like to think that recognizing and respecting one another’s boundaries is the name of the game—as long as the game is Cards Against Humanity and we can play it in our treehouse.