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Make Your Company Culture Go The Distance

With offices and virtual employees scattered across the U.S., here's how SCVNGR and LevelUp keep connected, and stay cool.
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Fun and games course through the heart of the SCVNGR company culture. Visit one of our offices, and you'll probably be hit by a Nerf dart while you're walking down the hall. And the presence of so many grown men and women on Razor scooters might initially throw you for a loop. But one thing that transcends the pandemonium of our office is the fact that we work really, really hard.

We just happen to have ton of fun while we're hard at work. 

As offices for the SCVNGR team's latest venture, LevelUp, surfaced in New York, Philadelphia,  and San Francisco, so did a pressing question: how can we make our company culture translate across state lines? 

Through trial and error, we’ve come up with a few tips that other companies can apply to make the cultural leap a smooth one.

1. Commit to holding a fun event every week that employees—in all offices—can participate in.
One of the most awesome things we do culturally at SCVNGR is called "Lunch Time Share Time." That's LTST for short. Held every other Tuesday, Lunch Time Share Time is when the entire company gets together for one hour to eat, share cool things about the great work we've done, and, most importantly, laugh. With all 125 Boston-based employees sitting in one room together, and the other 25 remote employees videoconferenced in on 15-foot screens, we play a very random, fast-paced game loaded with work-related updates, trivia questions, and would-you-rathers. And, might I add, we mildly mortify new employees by making them sing. It's all in good fun.

2. Allow new hires to soak up as much company culture as they can during in-person training.
Before anyone starts at SCVNGR, we lock them in a room and make them watch The Lake House 10 times. Just kidding. Instead, we're about to welcome the first class of LevelUp University, a two-week long training program in Boston. All new city hires will fly in for two weeks of traditional training, team outings, and, most importantly, face-time with their HQ counterparts. In my experience, nothing says bonding like extreme activities: shooting a paintball at a co-worker, playing trampoline dodgeball or going skydiving (all things we've done in groups in the past). There are some aspects of culture that simply need to be experienced in-person!

3. Level (Up!) the playing field (pun intended) by having everyone participate in a common activity.
We've developed a fun game that all of our sales people play, regardless of their location. This "game" is actually how our local sales-team earns their commissions. Yes, really. The game begins with a roll of two ridiculously swanky, silver dice to determine which top target businesses you can go after during that round. The rest of the game is comprised of a series of Monopoly-esque challenges based on those leads. For example: closing three businesses in close proximity to another business can earn you a "cluster bonus" in your weeks commission. The game is fun and wildly productive, but most importantly, it unites our sales force.

4. Tradition can travel. Decide how you're going to get it there.
We have an employee role called "The Crusader" (don't think Medieval; think more of a cultural ambassador). Aside from assisting in hiring, obtaining great office space, and closing the first official deal in any new city we operate in, the Crusader sets the tone for our staff's cultural growth. They get to pick and choose which traditions to plant in the new office. Whether it is, say, orange decor, weekly team outings, or a big, loud sales gong—we know our Crusaders will bring the best parts of HQ culture with them. 

5. Be open to company culture inconsistencies across cities.
Alhough it might be physically possible to create a carbon copy of our HQ in a different city, it's important to realize that company culture is deliberately diverse. I don’t expect everyone to dress in orange, roam around barefoot and wear Oakleys like I do. (But now that you mention it...) People are different. Traditions will vary. And most importantly, cultural things will evolve. But as long as you have a team that feels grounded in their ties to HQ, you'll be able to have your company culture spread its wings across the world...or at least the continental U.S. and Canada. Maybe at least one Marshall Island, too.

IMAGE: iStock
Last updated: Dec 21, 2011




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