At the Butter Me Up HQ, we usually try to schedule our meetings at least a week in advance so that we’re well-prepared for and efficient during them. On one such occasion, we received an email a morning prior to our scheduled meeting time. It read, “We’re sorry for the last-minute notification, but we will not be able to attend the meeting on Tuesday as our office is holding a party. Let’s reschedule?”
“Only in the start-up generation,” our team giggled. We laughed it off then, but this running joke can become a genuine problem if not managed effectively. Yes, we like to party, work in bars when our wifi is down (even at 11 in the morning), or hold meetings at our favourite restaurants just because we’ve been craving a particular meal. But that doesn’t hinder our productivity – and it shouldn’t affect yours either.
So what do you do about it? Corporate rules don’t work in the start-up environment because smaller teams need flexibility, there are fewer levels of hierarchy, and seamless communication is crucial. Luckily, we’ve explored a world of rules, no rules, and something in-between, to find the perfect balance that could work for you too.
1. Understand Your Team
In our office space, we once had a vacant room filled with old furniture. This quickly turned into one of our writers’ favourite spots to write (and play the ukulele) from. It showed, too; his work was always fantastic when he was able to work in solitude, unbothered by the rest of the team’s discussions or music. Our other writers, more extroverted and social, preferred to bounce ideas off of each other and work together, even if they were completing different tasks.
When it comes to understanding your team, we don’t just mean each member’s strengths and weaknesses, but their working styles as well. Because you’re working in a smaller group rather than a large corporate one, use this to your advantage and learn more about each individual to give them the freedom to be themselves. You’ll see productivity increase immediately.
2. Encourage Downtime
The duties of an employee in a start-up can be summarised in one word: everything. This means your team is likely to experience burn-out more rapidly than those in a corporate setting, which is why it’s so important to advocate for rest. At BMU, we’ve got a comfy couch that we love to nap on (only when necessary, of course, and never for too long). We’ve also got our Chief Cuddle Officer Mowgli, who always helps us bust some stress with cuddles or playtime.
This all simply goes to show that sometimes, your team just needs to chill. Whether it’s a walk, a nap, a cup of tea, or some chit-chat with each other, give yourself and your team a few moments to relax, recuperate, and re-energise. Ultimately, that’ll do wonders for the work that they push out, keeping everyone happy.
3. Love Your Chosen Family
Like it or not, you’re pretty much stuck with your team members – and we mean all of them – for at least eight hours, six days of the week. All their quirks, annoying habits, weird laughs, strange ticks… Everything. So make the most of it. Enjoy each other’s company and approach every project with positivity and a collaborative attitude, even if you absolutely can’t stand how messy their desks are. (PSA: Don’t offer to clean it for them. They will be offended. Just do it when they’re not there and pretend like you know nothing.)
Some of our fondest memories at BMU include those moments of friendship when we were able to laugh together while reveling in the insanity of grinding out a project well past midnight. We’ve always made a celebration out of our work, accomplishing more because we appreciate working – i.e., struggling – together. Productivity begins with a positive mindset, and, as cheesy as it sounds, there’s nothing more positive than the friendship between your chosen work family.