The culture at Sprint Education has over the years come to define our brand, the approach to our day to day roles, and the decisions I make as Co-Founder to push the company and team forward daily.
Yet I don’t believe it’s possible to fake a company culture, it’s guided more by the questions we ask ourselves every day and the office environment in which we operate. So I tend to ask myself regularly, “Will it make my customers’ and/or teams’ experience of Sprint Education a better one?”
It wasn’t always like this however. When Sprint Education consisted of just my brother (Guy) and I, in the days when we were up all night in our Dad’s garage trying to create a once in a generation education marketing agency, making decisions was a quick gut-instinct process. But as the company has grown over the past decade making decisions that ultimately influences Sprint Education’s culture has become more complex.
Some decisions we’ve got wrong for sure, but the correct calls we have made along the way have seen us grow from working in a garage, to a rented run down office, then to a renovated business unit. And this is where Sprint Education lived happily until about 12 months ago when the next big decision was imposed upon us.
Should we stay or should we go?
With 14 members of staff and just 6 car parking spaces should we consider buying a bigger and better office for the next stage of Sprint Education’s journey?
This wasn’t an easy decision to be made, we already owned our current premises so there weren’t any scary rental bills to pay, the team seemed happy enough, and (car parking aside) we probably could have squeezed in another 5 new members of staff.
So we asked ourselves, by moving to bigger offices, “Will it make our customers’ and teams’ experience of Sprint Education a better one?”
I’ve found that whenever our office space becomes overcrowded it can stifle the team’s creativity. I personally find it difficult not to get drawn into a conversation that I’ve overheard even if I’m not involved with the issue at hand, this then leads to my opinion getting forced onto a situation when it wasn’t needed, and importantly depriving my team of making decisions for themselves and stretching their own creative boundaries.
With that in mind Guy and I gave a big green tick to moving office to improve our team’s experience of working at Sprint Education.
Nowhere to go!
We started to research every available space within our area but soon realised nowhere was suitable, and it wasn’t before long that we started to resign ourselves to the reality that staying put was just meant to be.
Then a property appeared that we really liked, but it was far too big for what we needed (10,000 sq/ft compared to the 7,000 we wanted). So we thought up a plan to get permission from the seller to physically turn the oversized unit into two smaller units, 7,000 for us (which we would then be obliged to purchase), and 3,000 for the seller to keep hold of. They accepted and after lots and lots and lots of legal ‘toing’ and ‘froing’ we were able to begin the divide in the summer, start the renovations and move in at the end of year.
Renovating an office space to foster your culture
When planning the internal layout of the new offices there were a lot of decisions to be made, so to help with these decisions we continually referred back to the ‘Sprint Hallows’. These are a list of company principles I created which the whole team try to follow here at Sprint Education. They are…
• Big Hearted – Over deliver and give back
• Excite – Inspire our own team and our clients
• Remarkable – don’t accept the norm as acceptable
This made our decision making process so much easier.
We wanted to remain generous to our staff and accommodate for many of the team that wanted to start cycling, running and even roller blading to work, so we installed a locker room with showers. Whilst to combat ‘El Desko Dining’ (eating your lunch at your desk) we installed a staff canteen area and a Ping Pong table to for everyone to play on; the latter has gone down an absolute storm!
I always believe the best way to be positive and enthusiastic (Excite) when speaking with client is to stand up. So we installed stand up desks with wall mounted TVs for our team to view a client’s campaign or website when talking strategy with them. This has resulted in a more dynamic Sprint – Client experience.
We also wanted to celebrate what the team had achieved over the years and remember some of the funny incidents so we designed and had made our own unique artwork, some referencing the Sprint Hallows, some the company’s offices past and present, and another celebrating everything from our first 10 years in business (we are 10 in March 2017).
The Hallow of ‘Remarkable’ underpinned every single decision we made with the office renovation. We wanted the team or clients alike to enjoy the complete office space, from the finish to the experience when walking around it, sitting at your desk, or having a meeting. So we took this concept and created a space that we wanted to work in and that we were proud to call Sprint Education’s home.
Growth begins with culture!
We’ve been building Sprint Education for 10 years now and this has allowed us to build a strong culture; a culture that is so important we used it to help us make decisions on building our offices, from the initial need to move, right down to providing a Ping Pong table to keep things fun.
As Chris Savage once said, “By putting your culture first, you'll make an enormous positive impact on your company's likelihood of success. Look at the companies in your space that are truly excelling—in terms of both the balance sheet and their employees' well-being. Behind their accomplishments, you'll find a strong company culture.”
So there is no better time than now to start making the right decisions to build the company you and your team want to work for, and it all starts with the culture!