Winning an award at work is one of those “My parents are going to be so proud!” moments in a young adult’s working career. So I was a little deflated when, after winning the Energy Award at Communispace, my parents sniffed that I had apparently won the only award not focused on working really hard in the office. It was reminiscent of when I won “Most likely to trip and fall at graduation” in high school—I believe my mom’s reaction was “That’s *not* a compliment, Peter,” even though I was downright honored and flattered to have been recognized by my peers.
But of all the values that Communispace strives for and recognizes among its employees, I actually think the Energy Award best reflects why it’s such a great company. Because when it comes down to it, the Energy Award acknowledges that we are people with lives, families, extra-curricular activities, etc.—and when your workplace takes that into account and lets you be flexible with your time, it’s a sign of respect that compels you to give back to your work and your colleagues. I can take the morning off to wait for the cable guy, and nobody bats an eye because it’s understood that I will still get all of my work done on time.
In the summer months, I seek out coworkers to play bocce with in the outside courtyard—during work hours, and in full view of our CEO Diane. Am I worried about my office reputation suffering as a result of this display of frivolity? Nope—because everyone knows I’m only out there because I’m making that hour of work up some other time, be it later at night or early in the morning.
This kind of trust consistently renews my dedication to my job, and the flexibility keeps me from feeling burnt out despite the intensity of the work I do.
I also think that the Energy Award recognizes that we’re all about collaborative work here, so it makes a huge difference if you really get along with the people you work with. I therefore try to make every interaction I can a positive one—whether it’s keeping track of all the double entendres the boss inadvertently says (and reading them back to him, of course) or getting a relatively buttoned-up client to laugh at least once during every call. It’s sort of like those “Happy Cows Make Great Cheese” ads—if employees are enjoying their interactions in the workplace, they’ll probably do better work as a result.
Everyone knows it’s important to work hard at one’s job, and it’s pretty much expected that every company would trumpet this as a value. But how refreshing to have a company also let everyone take an individual approach to their workday, and acknowledge that having a little fun in the office is good for morale and productivity.
Ultimately I did not, in fact, trip and fall at graduation. But the Energy Award is much better, because it celebrates the individual and personal impact that we can each make in the office, and I for one am glad that I work in a company that makes this one of their official values.