Happy Work and Happy Life, the 5th Core Value at Breathe Life.
Well here we are, at our fifth value, the last, but certainly not our least — We like to have fun. It’s been quite the experience diving into these values and finding out from the Breathe Life team members what each value really means to them. It’s been fascinating to see just how much these 5 values relate to every aspect of our business, from how we hire, to how we build, to how we interact. It’s also been an exercise in communicating openly which will, in turn, lead to holding ourselves accountable. We’ve now told the world what we stand for and it’s time to make sure that we are truly living it, that they’re not just 5 values hidden away in our Google Drive.
So, to wrap this series up, what does We like to have fun mean to us and how do we integrate it into our everyday work?
We like to have fun is a difficult one to properly express, especially in the startup world. It could very easily be misconstrued as meaning we’ve got ping pong tables, grab beers every night or have designated nap rooms in our office. Those things are definitely perks, but this isn’t what we mean when we say We like to have fun. What it means to us is that everyone thrives off their teammates and loves to laugh and joke around. Essentially, we don’t take ourselves too seriously.
A startup environment can often be quite stressful and it’s important that team members can take the time to chat, unwind, grab a (virtual) coffee together, etc. Not only will this help reduce burning out it’s also a proven fact that employees that know each other well and get along well, work better together. As an added bonus, we all come from different backgrounds and have different hobbies and skills so we stand to learn something new from each other.
JN, our COO, knew the importance of building relationships as every new hire was brought on. He said,
from the very beginning, I knew that with each new team member, myself and the team would need to make sure that we took time to get to know each other, found common ground, etc. It’s the best way to welcome new hires and to bring camaraderie to the team.
We encourage this with the whole team and are always searching for ways that they can get to know each other better. This is of my biggest priorities as CEO and I thought I’d share some of the things we’ve put in place to facilitate this.
Every Monday we have an all-hands meeting where anyone can share an update on what they’re working on, but it’s also a time when we highlight personal achievements from different team members and take the time to chat and joke around. I like to start and end each meeting with a corny dad joke ;).
Pre-Covid (and we're hoping to get to start these back up when it's safe to do so), we hosted an annual Summer Extravaganza. Last year the whole team came to my cottage and we spent the day out on the boat, learning to Stand-Up Paddleboard and hanging out.
When Covid hit we scheduled in voluntary coffee and lunch breaks where people could hop into a zoom meeting to take a break from work and chat with colleagues. We also scheduled random 1on1s every two weeks so employees can take 15 minutes to chat with a colleague who they wouldn't interact with normally.
Our Christmas Party is much more than a party. Last year we hosted a Secret Santa party with the theme “shop local”. After that, we went rock climbing and each team member had the responsibility of being the belayer for someone else (or as we called it — The Insurer 😉 ). It was a great experience to see everyone bonding and cheering each other on. This year we're moving our party virtual but we're going to make sure that it's not just your average zoom meeting!
I’m always on the hunt for other great ways to help the team unwind and get to know each other, especially now that we're remote-first, so if you’ve done something that’s worked well please share below.
There we have it, I’ve written about all five of our values — We are human, We are accountable, We push the limits, We are proactive, and We like to have fun. I’ve covered everything from what they mean to us, how we implement them on a daily basis, and the effect they have on the scaling of Breathe Life. Now it’s time to make sure they are always top of mind and continue to guide our decision making!