10+ Ways Our Team Builds Bonds, Cultivates Creativity, and Lets Loose

Honestly, there’s a lot of conventional business stuff that we hate. We don’t believe in trust falls or cheesy exercises. We hate corporate buzzwords and forced interaction. Why? Because we’re human, and we’d rather treat each other like humans. 

So when it comes to creating a strong team, we focus on cultivating a genuine community and a culture that encourages creativity. There are lots of ways we do this—some big, some small, some official, some impromptu. Collectively, however, we think these efforts make a big difference. We also think they’re great habits to adopt if you want to keep your team connected, too. So today we’re sharing a few different ways we care for our team.

10+ Things We Do to Stay Connected

From brain breaks to creative challenges, we hope these ideas inspire you to try something new in your organization. 

THE PHYSICAL STUFF

Taking care of our health and being conscious of our environment has done a lot to support our mental health and working relationships over the years.

1) Create a comfortable office space. This year we simplified our office space, and we intentionally designed our new digs to serve not just our work but our personalities and work preferences. That includes things like inside/outside spaces, private workspace for our super introverts, public work space for our extroverts, and semi-private workspace for the rest of us. This design helps everyone work the way they need to, whether they’re collaborating with a team or working solo.

 

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A lone Wolf works alone. 🐺

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2) Eat well…mostly. When we started C5, we weren’t too worried about our diets (we had Gushers in office at all times), but over the years we’ve tweaked our habits some. We started a healthy team lunch (known as Salad Wednesdays) years ago because we were sick of pizza. In addition to Salad Wednesdays and birthday lunches, we recently started our Friday Food Yum Yums tradition, where our more adventurous foodies order in food from a new spot. (And, of course, we have team happy hours where we ignore all of our weekday dietary restrictions.) 

3) Do physical stuff together. Over the last decade, C5ers have bonded over all sorts of extracurricular physical activities, from an afterwork bootcamp, to in-house yoga, to the C5 kickball team (RIP The Fireballs). Even if it’s just getting out for a walk-and-talk meeting instead of sitting in a conference room, getting a little sun and fresh air has always helped us clear our minds (and sometimes clear the air). 

 

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#C5NY takes up shuffle board. 👵🏼👴🏼

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THE MENTAL STUFF

We all need a brain break from time to time, so we’ve pursued more activities that give us a chance to explore new things, enjoy each other’s company, or play a little more. 

4) Plan fun field trips. Once a quarter or so we try to get together outside the office to do something unique. We’ve enjoyed duffy rides in Newport Beach, karaoke, museums, a visit to The Moth, an all-company picnic, etc. Whatever we choose to do, it’s usually a far cry from our daily work. 

5) Plan team parties. Some people might call it decompression time; we call it a Producer party. Basically, one Friday a month our Producers get together to talk about their highs and lows, things they’re excited about, etc. It’s a casual, informal hang that helps us let off steam and wind down from the week (often with a beer or two).

THE INTERPERSONAL STUFF

One of the things we’re most proud of in building Column Five is the team we’ve assembled. We know it’s easy to get wrapped up in deadlines and the drudgery of day-to-day work, but we make a serious effort to acknowledge everyone’s individual contributions to Column Five in different ways. 

6) Share heartfelt affirmations. We’re lucky to have an awesome team of people, many of whom have been here since our early days. We always want people to feel valued, so on big work anniversaries we shower the person with favorite memories, funny stories, or notes of admiration and encouragement. 

7) Ask for peer feedback. In addition to our quarterly check-ins with leadership, we also seek to understand how well we work with others. That’s why we started getting and giving peer feedback once a quarter, where we ask people outside our immediate team to let us know how we’re doing and how we might improve.

8) Shoutout birthdays and milestones. Our people are people. They live full lives, they grow, and they do exciting things. We like to publicly acknowledge their achievements or life events. Whether it’s someone starting a new side hustle, having a baby, or celebrating a birthday, we think they deserve kudos.

 

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Guess who has the true baby bump? 🤰Surprise #babyshower for our very own C5CA mom to be!

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THE CREATIVE STUFF

We believe it’s important to push yourself to grow, even when it’s scary. Whether it’s tips for brainstorming or more effective ways to talk to clients, we’re always looking for ways to work better.

9) Schedule share-and-tells. We’re always learning new stuff, picking up tips, and tinkering with the way we do things. But we’re often focused on our work, so we don’t always get a chance to share the things we’re doing. Hence, we’ve scheduled recurring share-and-tells to show each other the things we’re working on, share tools and tips, and teach each other new things. Whether it’s tips on working remotely, more effective ways to talk to clients, or hacks to use Gmail more efficiently, these have been helpful for all of us.

10) Experiment with creative challenges. Our design team is incredibly talented, and sometimes they just want to play. To give them this chance, our Creative Director Nate Butler is a big fan of mini creative challenges that help get creative juices flowing. These are often opportunities to do something unrelated to work, such as our flag redesign challenge or Type Fight series.

11) Support self care. We believe a big part of communal health is self care, which is why we also allocate an annual allowance (aka our Careosity Budget) that every employee can spend on whatever they need to feel balanced—personally or professionally. That may be a gym membership, a weekend away, continuing education, or a ceramics class. Whatever it is, it’s up to them. (Read more about why we decided to create our Careosity Budget.) 

 

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Town Hall is in session and the whole team is tuned in. 👀

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Why We’ll Always Put People First

We aren’t perfect. (Again, we’re human.) But our vision is to build a world where everyone can live healthy and fulfilled lives. Helping our people thrive is the first step to fulfill that vision, and thus far we’re lucky to have a team that has been open, willing, and eager to join us on that journey. Above all, we believe good work starts with good working relationships, so it’s always worthwhile to invest in those relationships. 

On that note, we’re always looking for ways to improve the way our team works together (and with our clients). If you’re curious to know more about how we do that…

And if you’re interested in becoming a creative partner, hit us up