Why Our Company Culture is Like High School

by / ⠀Startup Advice / April 29, 2012

Remember in high school when you thought, “I’m never going to use anything I learn here in the real world?” You – and I – were wrong. I use things I learned in high school every single day at work; it’s not necessarily insight I gained in textbooks, but what I absorbed from the culture of my alma mater. It’s helped shape how we run our company, and there’s a certain level of comfort and fun in doing things you remember from your teenage years.

Here are a few of the best ideas we’ve adopted:

Open Campus – Open Workflow

At NerinxHall, my alma mater, seniors were awarded with “Open Campus.” This meant when you weren’t in class, during lunch and free periods, you were allowed to leave school. This is what prepared me most for college – the independence and self- control that came with this freedom. Our company operates on the same philosophy. We know the people we hire will get things done. They don’t need to have someone watching over their every move, and they don’t need to be told where they work best. At DigitalTalentAgents, we already practice open workflow with the idea that our employees should work from wherever they are most productive, whether that’s a coffee shop, their home, or the office. The problem (if you can call it that) is that we all actually love being in the office! You would, too, if you worked in a building that doubles as an event venue. To “combat” our persistent office attendance, we implemented late-start Wednesdays.

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Late-Start Wednesdays

In high school, we had late-start Wednesdays every week. While school normally started at 8:05 a.m., we didn’t have to be there until 9:30 a.m. on Wednesdays. It was wonderful! We could sleep in, not hit as much traffic on the way to school, and experience less grumpiness from our classmates on Wednesdays.

We decided to not reinvent the wheel and implemented the same practice at DTA. However, we took it a step further and made it a really late-start Wednesday. No one comes to the office until after lunch. This doesn’t mean we aren’t working – we actually have some of our most productive mornings on Wednesdays. We each work from home, and we’re able to work independently without distractions from our co-workers. Everyone also comes into the building happy and well-rested after spending the morning cuddled up with a computer and a blanket.

Pi Day – Fun Committee

March 14th was a celebratory day at Nerinx Hall. It’s Pi Day, of course! (It’s 3.14 – get it?) Students brought in homemade pies, and we decorated hats. It was truly fun for the sake of fun. Fun is important in a workplace. At DTA, we’re fortunate to be part of a wonderful holding company called AdVentures. AdVentures started a Fun Committee, with representatives from each of the sister entities, and it’s the Fun Committee’s responsibility each month to decide how to utilize a chunk of money to make everyone in the building happy. The Fun Committee activities range from happy hours, to Nerf gun fights, to chip-and-dip competitions and more. There are a few Fun Committee events each month, and they do wonders for workplace morale.

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It’s important, when adapting the things you learned from the culture in high school to your current work setting, to leave out the cliques, drama, and terrible hairdos (I had a perm in high school and imagine it would actually hurt staff morale if I revisited it). It’s essential to use these cultural insights to install a sense of trust, freedom, and fun. I was fortunate enough to attend a high school that I absolutely loved, and I feel even more fortunate to now be part of a workplace culture that thrives on being fun and productive. If open workflows or late-start Wednesdays could work for your company, give them a shot! (A Fun Committee isn’t negotiable – any company that cares about its people should have one.) You won’t regret bringing a little bit of high school to the workplace – and your colleagues won’t, either.

KelseyMeyer is the Senior Vice President of DigitalTalentAgents, a niche PR company that helps experts and entrepreneurs improve their online authority and credibility while creating a pull strategy to their brand.

About The Author

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on Under30CEO.com, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.


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