5 Things I Love About Working at Communispace: A one-month retrospective

Yesterday morning, Communispacers congregated in our largest meeting space to welcome our 300th employee (an addition to our U.K. team). We were joined remotely by team members from around the world. One month ago, I stood in the same place alongside new recruits, an open-armed welcome being my first impression of my new company.

I’m a big believer in first impressions. When working with a new hire, I always try to uncover them early. Once you’re fully embedded, it’s easy to accept those things which earlier seemed quirky, ineffective or just flat out stupid. For that reason fresh new reactions – even when threatening to the status quo – are invaluable.

But since starting here and being floored by the results a truly employee-centric culture can produce, I’ve turned that question on its head. What will I take for granted in a year, and what should I call out as being truly excellent about this place?

The Employee-Centric Culture
Here’s what it looks like to start at Communispace:

Brand new laptop, matching bag, headset, mouse pad, mug, water bottle, bag of office supplies, and – after you log in – your face and bio featured on the intranet homepage and a calendar full of one-on-one meetings with everyone you need to know. Not only that – it’s all ready and working the minute you walk in. Definitely makes you feel central to the operation.

Work hours are flexible, company values highlight the importance of employees and perks like time off for volunteer work just plain make you feel good – everything is predicated upon the belief that if you hire smart people and trust them to do their work, good things will happen.

I’ve also eaten more cupcakes in the last four weeks than in the last four years of my life.

The Transparency
As part of the onboarding process, every new employee goes through a training program that brings them in touch with senior management in every department – from Finance to Sales, including lunch with the CEO. No question is off limits. Financials are shared freely. Knowing nothing’s being hidden from employees fosters a culture of solidarity, teamwork and joint effort. It calls to mind Steve Daffron and Dave Logan’s First Law of Performance: “How people perform correlates to how situations occur to them.” People here perform very well.

The Focus
Walk around our offices and ask 10 random team members what Communispace does and why we do it better than anyone else and you’ll receive the exact same answer. That’s a rare thing, especially for a company this big. Best practices in the facilitation of our online communities are pervasive and widely understood. Everyone is 100% intent on ensuring that we continue to provide the best customer insights communities in the world.

We Kill It
Like, really kill it.

Last week, Forrester Research’s Josh Bernoff visited our offices to present us with our 2010 Groundswell Awards for our work with Godiva, InterContinental Hotels Group and Chase Credit Cards. While here, he revealed a slide showing the awards we’ve received from Forrester in the last few years, adding, “I can’t show a slide this crowded for any other company.”

Wow.

A 91% client retention rate amidst pressured marketing and research budgets is another indicator of the extent to which our clients are drop-dead delighted with us. Perhaps the biggest signal of satisfaction, though, came when three of our biggest clients visited us during our Thanksgiving party to talk about what Communispace means to their businesses. I’ve never heard customers say such good – and heartfelt – things about a B2B company. It’s inspiring to hear that our customers view us as a strategic partner – not a vendor – and see the huge impact we have on their bottom lines. That’s a huge source of motivation.

Finally … Beard Struggles
There’s nothing like being at the top of your game, but anything can get old quickly if you don’t love the place where you work. Luckily I’m surrounded by madmen (and madwomen) that make this place a blast.

The final justification of the Communispace Beard-Off (which produced a memo from Karl Marx stating that “The history of all previous societies has been the history of beard struggles”) kind of speaks for itself.

So, where do you work? And what’s your favorite thing about your job?