Evolving a “Best Place to Work”
Last Friday marked the fifth consecutive year INK has been part of the Austin Business Journal’s “Best Places to Work” list. It is my favorite honor and one for which I am so grateful – to the ABJ for hosting and to everyone at INK for making it so. The first year we made the list, with only 10 Austin employees, we were barely large enough to qualify for the micro company category. We had the same office we do today but we must have been really spread out! Today, we’re twice as “micro” with 18 employees at our Austin HQ, plus 5-year+ veteran INKer Helen Murphy working remotely in Houston, and Starr + four talented INKers in our new Denver office. We work as OBHF (INK speak for “one big happy family”) sharing clients, tips, and jokes across the miles. Our Slack and video conferencing skills are on point, put to the test not only from different offices, but also from home offices and coffee shops with our healthy “work from wherever” (WFW) policy. Don’t get me wrong, we love our office and our face-time, but today INK culture has less to do with that pool in the backyard and snacks in the family-style kitchen (sorry for the #humblebrag 😉 and everything to do with the people we work with and the good work we produce together.
Which brings me to my question: does being a best place to work really have anything to do with place anymore?
Yes and no.
Let’s start with YES. Absolutely your physical workspace matters in creating a positive work environment, more than ever.But just having ample snacks and a nice location isn’t enough. Using office design to inspire and support healthy work flow – areas for collaboration, concentration, socializing, presentation – is an art form, especially in an ever-changing working world. We embrace work-from-home as a benefit to our employees’ lives and our productivity and quality of work. So when we look at making improvements to our formal workspaces, we aim to create environments that people WANT to come to because they support better and different work capabilities than can be accomplished at home or at a coffee shop.
Now to NO. The quality of the work environment you offer employees exceeds far beyond place or office walls.Will there ever be a Best Virtual Place to Work? I think so! Our working world is not limited to offices or cities or even countries. Does an Austin company providing great culture, work experience, and benefits to a remote workforce not deserve to be a best place to work? The working world is untethered and increasingly location is irrelevant. Providing the best tools to facilitate virtual collaboration and culture and knowledge transfer, and monitoring how those tools affect relationships, productivity and quality of work is a full-time commitment and not for the faint-of-heart. But for us, it has made all the difference and allowed us to offer flexibility and benefits that attract and retain tip top talent, and enabled us to extend our INK family to new markets and remote offices without duplications in overhead or disconnect in workflow and culture.
The times, they are a changin’. The best places to work know this better than anyone. Kudos to everyone at INK that make this a constantly evolving workplace that retains all the goodness. And kudos to our fellow award winners!