After working in various industries, I’ve witnessed how companies can differ when it comes to staff downtime and socialising.
For a long time I worked in the media industry, and trust me, they knew how to hold a social – in and out of the office. But being responsible for a very busy reception as well as management of the office I could rarely get too involved as the front desk couldn’t be left unattended. Similarly, finance would often miss out as they had targets and deadlines to reach. As such, whilst well-intended, it meant that these gatherings never really included everyone which was a shame.
I’ve also worked in highly corporate environments where office drinks/socials were just not the done thing. I tried so many times to encourage senior management to introduce casual Friday afternoon drinks but to no avail. This lack of opportunity to socialise and speak to colleagues outside of a ‘functional’ purpose or reason – while also being spread over three floors – meant that in my time there, I never actually knew half the staff members!
Here at Upgrade Pack, the company’s co-founders, Craig and Urchana, have created the perfect balance. Every Thursday they insist we down tools at 4.30pm to gather around our drinks trolley (named ‘Dolly’) to chat and indulge in some nibbles over a drink. In the short time I have been here (less than a month) I have already spoken to everyone and know what they do. I have also gained more insights into what the business is striving for through these informal chats, whilst having the chance to get to know my colleagues as people.
The fact is that office downtime can be productive in several ways and generate conversations (often still around work) that people might not otherwise have in a formal meeting environment.
People may say it’s more practical because we’re a small company. But we’re growing fast and while I’m told that the Thursday trolley has become a lot busier than it was just under a year ago, it’s seen by the whole team as an important and enjoyable feature of our week.
It’s also a chance for anyone to share key news or updates (work related or otherwise). At this week’s trolley for instance, one of the team announced that he and his partner are expecting a child. It was absolutely amazing as the team burst into smiles and applause. I don’t think it gets much better than that.
Personally, I feel this type of downtime is not only helpful in getting to know people, it’s important for building a strong and united team, which we’ve quickly achieved at Upgrade Pack.
Work hard, play harder is my motto!