I’m really chuffed that we won the Best Place to Work (SME) award at the Digital Tech Leaders Awards last week. At the awards dinner, one of our dining companions asked why dxw is a good place to work. I think the answer has two parts.
I believe that a team does its best work when it is comfortable, well-rested, and presented with a manageable amount of work that’s within its ability to deliver.
Teams that are presented with impossible challenges cannot meet them. We try to ensure that for every project, we build a team that has the right skills and experience for the job.
In our sales process, we choose what to bid for quite carefully. We try to avoid selling more work than can be delivered by the team we have (because we work at a sustainable pace).
We try to ensure that the work we win is interesting and fulfilling, so that the people on the team are always developing and growing in their roles.
In order to do good work, teams need to be comfortable and feel safe. This is partly about the physical environment and creature comforts, but also about a sense of control. It’s unlikely that someone will feel comfortable working in a place where they have no influence over the environment or the way things get done.
We also take the time to get new staff off to a good start – a process which we review and iterate with each new starter. We provide new tools when requested and promote learning through book buying, our conference perk and making time for people to attend meetups and other role-specific conferences.
At dxw, we make decisions about how we work together. And when someone has a request that they feel would make their job easier to do, we do our best to say yes.
Over the years, we’ve made lots of decisions together about what the company should offer, and — despite our growth — we’ve sustained lots of the policies that we had when we only had 5 or 6 people on the team.
Here are some examples:
- We do client work Monday-Thursday. On Fridays, we have company focussed days, where the team can work on internal projects, tool sharpening, blogging, or self-directed learning
- We pay people as well as we can, we have a pension, we offer season ticket loans, provide childcare vouchers and are part of the cycle-to-work scheme
- Our hours of work are 10:00-18:00, so that people don’t have to pointlessly suffer on public transport. We also offer flexible working hours for people with long commutes
- Wherever we can, we try to be accommodating of people’s commitments outside work, for example, by creating part-time roles and giving sabbaticals for those pursuing masters and PhDs
- We have regular whole-company retrospectives about how we work together – the good and the bad – and we act on the feedback. We also do this at project level, with our clients
- We provide free tea, proper coffee, milk, fruit and soft drinks
- On Friday afternoons, we have free beers (and soft drinks) for people who fancy a game of Quiplash (or similar)
- We have a nice office, in a nice part of town. It contains comfortable chairs, plants, whiteboards, books and sofas, and is generally a nice place to be
- We are serious about sustainable pace. We work late or out of hours if we have to because of a pressing or short-term problem, but other than that, working late is strongly discouraged
- In project work, our delivery managers focus on unblocking, problem-solving and facilitating, to give our teams the freedom and space they need to work
- We have a very mild hierarchy that is very open to challenge: everyone is welcome to make suggestions about how the company can do better
In general, we’re doing our best to create an environment where people can feel like a part of a bigger family, where they can grow professionally and personally and can take on challenging, rewarding work.
We’re very humbled about winning last week’s award. We were up against some tough competition, and it’s really exciting to have been recognised publicly for something that often feels like internal, company-focussed work.
We’d like to thank the judges very much for choosing us!