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In 2016, I was given a budget and a request to “make the office more fun.” Working with an in-house designer, I took a bunch of measurements, laid out the office walls in illustrator, and went to work. To start, we laid new floors, put up a wooden accent wall, and refurnished the lobby. After that, I got the entire office painted and laid vinyl quotes and illustrations all over the walls. Some were song lyrics altered to be about dogs, some were treat and dog puns specific to its placement in the building. The CFO got, “The buck stops here!” with an antler chew. The CMO got, “Best in Show” over his door.
To break up the sea of puns, we also got in-house photography of office dogs printed in large format panels scattered throughout the walls.
During the initial redesign, the in-house designer, Brandon Hambright had the idea to do a Duck Hunt sticky note wall. About a year later, when we added a large community office room to the floor plan, I wanted to find a way for the residents of that room (four of whom were new hires) to make it their own. In that spirit, I used the idea for Brandon’s Duck Hunt wall to create a group project for the eight employees. I planned out the wall, laid out the grid, and gave each employee a section of wall and a set of instructions. The end result was a brand new Nyan Cat sticky note wall that everyone who worked in that room created with their own hands.
To keep my design team current on design trends and fresh as creative people, I take them to two design conferences each year. The first design conference, HOW Design Live is focused on inspiration for design and creativity. The second, Adobe MAX is focused on design software innovations and updates. Every time I take my designers to these conferences, they come back full of ideas and creatively refreshed. Between conferences, I keep a weekly meeting where we all sit down for half an hour to watch a design video. I believe this keeps their design perspective within the design profession instead of limited within the dog treat industry standards. I believe constantly learning about one's profession leads to a better team culture.
In another effort to build team and office culture, my team often takes part in surprise desk decorations for employees enjoying birthdays and weddings. I believe communal laughter and surprise creates a bond between employees and makes the ambushed party feel appreciated (after they are done cleaning out a corner of their desk to work from, of course).