I’m excited to share that I’m launching a new Instagram account Spotted.at.Work to capture in photos the ideas I talk about here on the blog. Seems a bit random, I know. Let me tell you how it all got started.
Leah Fessler interviewed me last week for an article in Quartz. Leah had stumbled across some spilled milk in the office fridge and wondered what it said about her engagement at work that she stopped to clean up someone else’s mess. That got her thinking about all the little signs of a positive culture in the office. We had a great chat about the spots in the average workplace that are rife with clues to the health of the workforce.
To my surprise, the article has been really popular. Apparently, lots of people are interested in learning about the tell-tale signs of a healthy workplace. And suddenly I’m noticing examples all over the place. Every time I see one, I want to send Leah an email to say “check this out,” or “here’s another great example.” I need an outlet for all these examples of things I see in the workplace that provide clues to the health of the culture. Given that our intern has been encouraging me to branch out to Instagram and Pinterest, I figure that this is my big chance.
So I’m starting an Instagram account and I need your help. When you see one of these telltale signs of the health of a workplace (yours or someone else’s), snap a pic and send it to me. What kinds of things am I looking for? Here are three that I’ve seen in just the week since the Quartz article came out.
The day the article came out, I was in an office in Vancouver. I walked into the washroom and noticed two tubes of fancy brand-name hand cream on the counter. One tube was adorned with a sticky note encouraging everyone to “please feel free to use.” How nice was that? It was a small touch, but a very welcoming one. I instantly felt like I was in a warm and inviting culture.
A few days later, I went to the head office of a regional grocery chain just outside of Toronto. From the parking lot, I could see large pictures of the company founders—immediately I knew this company was proud of its heritage—good sign. Once I stepped foot inside the front door, I was met by this bodacious St. Patrick’s Day display…fun! I asked the receptionist about the display and she was proud to tell me how she does a display for every holiday and promptly showed me a picture of her Valentine’s display. She was quick to point out how the display incorporated some of the company’s products in a “romantic dinner for two” motif. I hadn’t passed the foyer and I already knew that family values, pride in the product, and a sense of fun and whimsy were all part of the culture.
Friday morning, I was in Austin Texas. After a 3:45am wake up call, I was at the airport by 4:30. I expected sleepy, grumpy staff but what I got instead was perhaps the most uniformly friendly experience I’ve ever had at an airport. The check in agent escorted me to a kiosk without a line. The security screening officer complimented the gentleman in front of me on his dapper bow tie. The gate agents were bubbly and enthusiastic, even as they coaxed 20 passengers to gate check their bags. Just as I was thinking about how great the team was, I noticed this box of pastries that had been delivered to them with the message, “To the best gate agents in the business.” Wow…amazing! It wasn’t even 5am and these people were already going out of their way to create a recognize one another. Kudos to you team United at Austin Bergstrom.
Of course, I also notice the clues that a workplace culture is unhealthy. Passive-aggressive fridge notes; reminders to flush the toilet (really…???); signs at cubicles like “a lack of planning on your part does not constitute a crisis on my part” all give me the sense that I’m dealing with a office full of immature, petty children. I notice offices with blank walls (and worry that people don’t care enough to personalize their space). I raise an eyebrow when no one is using the shared spaces. I see many things that signal that the office culture might not be the best. I think these are worth sharing too.
So that’s why I’m launching the Instagram project. If a picture really is worth a thousand words, I hope I can share lots of value. Maybe these pictures will make you think about the little things you can do to make your workplace a little better. At the very least, it will give you a place to celebrate the little things that make your work day a lot better. I hope you’ll follow the account. I’ll cross post to the Dr. Liane Davey facebook page and to my Twitter account in case you’re not an Instagrammer. Let me know your thoughts and start sending me those photos to email@example.com