In an attempt to understand the world a little better, environmental scientists have often created model ecosystems, tiny tiny mini-worlds that take on a life of their own within glass jars. These living, breathing ecosystems give vital information on how different components within any environment depend on each other.
It might be a long stretch, but I think these small jars, popular with kids and otherwise known as fish tanks, can be likened to building a digital marketing office culture. Now approaching sixth months of existence, The Search Agency’s Sydney office is beginning to cement its own workplace culture. Grown from an office of two to an office of five, our dynamics have changed slightly with every new addition.
So why do we think our fish tank ecosystem is so much cooler than, say, the metaphorical fish tank ecosystem of a lawyer firm, a government body or even a production factory? As a digital marketing company, our power hierarchies and communication patterns need as much flexibility and innovation as the digital products we are creating. I know this may all seem a little Jerry Maguire – “I’m starting a new company and the fish are coming with me!” – but here are my three main findings:
1. Digital world, digital office communication patterns.
At any one time, the members of our office can be communicating to each other through many different channels. While verbal communication and team meetings haven’t become extinct (yet),most of our communication is digital, and includes, but is not limited to; outlook email, Skype, instant messaging (via Skype and Yahoo), social networking, intranets, wikis and blogging. These multi-layered and interactive communications are used for assigning tasks, group communication, training, product development, file sharing and expanding our own knowledge. However, all mediums carry their own style and help shape internal office relationships.
2. The better the communication, the more transparent the office structure.
This constant flow of accessible communication changes many of the traditional power structures within an office. With continuous access to self development, the traditional “cog in a machine” mentality is lost, as are any feelings of voicelessness. Having easy and accessible communication paths fosters an open and transparent workspace, where small issues can be easily resolved and larger issues can be fixed with the help of group participation.
3. Building a place within a global network
One of the most influential aspects of building our new office culture has been the comforting knowledge that we are not alone in the world. Our communication paths with the mother ship, TSA LA, and the technical ship, Rhode Island, have been crucial tools when pushing towards the launch of our products. Our developing office culture is continually taking leads from The Search Agency blog, The Search Agency newsletter and group emails. From chain email jokes to a blog post dissecting Google’s latest algorithm change, being part of a global network offers essential leadership for our developing office culture.