The Healing Power of Coffee

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We can debate the health merits of coffee and tea but there is no doubt that its availability and consumption is connected to employee satisfaction, culture and, to a lesser degree, performance. The office coffee ecosystem is simple and sometimes appears way too vital to the daily operation.

Like many companies we have a coffee service that keeps our shelves loaded and these days delivers almost every week. We have grown to trust that just as the boxes start to empty and all that remains is the decaf and green tea supply (no offense to those who subscribe to those flavours). The next day, our trusty coffee vendor will arrive with a fully loaded shipment to fill the shelves once again.

These routines for most of us are so entrenched that significant disruptions and distress is most noticeable when our coffee supplies are low, and we all forgot that Helen was on vacation. You see Helen has assumed the unofficial responsibility of coffee orderer for our office. Even though she is a talented developer and a very senior member of our team one of her most critical connections to our organization is the coffee monitoring work that she does. Our team unknowingly depends on her to keep a close watch on the coffee pod inventory so they can maintain their morning or hourly routines.

Active monitoring and business continuity planning are a key component of our service delivery model that we provide to our customers. We have actually developed the same technique to provide coffee in the event of us forgetting that Helen is away. You see we have a secret stash of coffee and generic pod system that provides 3 days emergency rations so we can survive while one of us manages to place an urgent order with our supplier. So, while not a perfect system, it preserves a critical piece of our operation.

 

The Longest Vacation

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The idea that vacations should be restricted to 1 or 2 weeks sounds like a good principle to protect the company when it is young and growing; however managing the line between firm policy and flexibility is important to successful growth.   Throughout our history we have decided several times to draft vacation policies that we believed would protect our precious company from a resource shortage at a critical yet undefined time. Usually right around that time one of our employees comes to us asking for a 3 or 4 week vacation because they are getting married, going to the world cup or going around the world for a great friend’s wedding. It’s moments like these which revealed our leadership culture by forcing us to consider how to balance our employee and corporate health.

Like most modern software shops, Veriday has a healthy and diverse employee culture formed by individuals who like to travel, have immigrated from elsewhere and maybe a few who need to significantly recharge their batteries now and then. All of those elements including significant life events that we often share with our colleagues make for challenging vacation scheduling at times and sensitivity to important life needs that supercede the value of the corporation.  So while we still have policies that are designed to protect the health of Veriday we have learned repeatedly to maintain a healthy amount of flexibility.

 

The Greater Good

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We just got these new whiteboards and they big and heavy! The bad news is we did not hire anyone to install them. Currently, we’re using them while they are leaned up against our walls. Now that we’re growing, we need to mount them on the wall to take back the extra space. Without question, our team gets together, grabs all the necessary tools, a few screws and voila, we suddenly have these huge amazing white boards for future planning and brainstorming!

Delegation is viewed as a necessity for growth but more importantly for growing companies it’s about getting work done and not necessarily being concerned with roles and responsibilities at all times. Knowing that your peers will do what is required to advance the business creates a strong team culture. As an organization matures, this kind of work is a nuisance but occasionally helps set the standard for working together.

Our whiteboard experience is one of those tasks that just needed to get done. We do the same for our clients – whatever it takes and however long it takes is the right thing to do. After a while, you begin to learn that if you invest in doing the right things for people with less regard for your own status, it will return to you in the form of loyalty and reinforce your principles.

Putting up a whiteboard seems like a burden, but at Veriday, it represents something greater.