Let me set the scene.
As someone with little experience of working in an office environment (just shy of two weeks at the time of writing), my first instinct was to shy away from writing this assignment. But after some consideration, I decided not to hide in the toilets after all, take a deep breath and begin typing.
In fact, as I started to pick my brain for material, I came to the opposite conclusion; I just might be the best person for the job.
Hearing about company culture, 9-5 lifestyle and submitting to the corporate devil from a complete beginner is arguably the best way to give aspiring office-goers and prospective clients alike an entirely fresh and honest perspective of what life is like at Digital 22.
So, in this blog, I demystify why the team will never work outside of the office even if, thanks to the pandemic, 74% of companies plan to shift to remote work permanently. And just in case it does turn out I'm in over my head, I’ve sprinkled the wise words of my more established co-workers throughout this article.
It’s safe to say creating a good company culture is high up on Digital 22’s priority list. And it was high on my worry list when starting the job.
As an office virgin, company culture seemed like a code word for cult. Some of the pretend scenarios in my mind included chanting the brand values on a Monday morning, strange team rituals as well as forced worship and promotion of the company. Thankfully, none of that's true.
"The culture, the noise, the banter. It's just not the same on a webcam..."
- Bilal Padia, Graphic Designer
I did have a meeting with the Directors - Mark and Rikki - on my first day and I’m pretty sure brand values were mentioned at some point during the presentation. But, overall, the session was surprisingly, well, normal.
We talked about our personal lives, what we liked to do on the weekends and I wasn’t asked to chant about delighting the client or investing in myself (yet).
The only rituals I’ve been exposed to so far are twice-weekly lateral flow tests and fresh baked goods Friday. The first being entirely sensible and the second being entirely dangerous yet very much appreciated.
And as for forced worship and promotion, I was given a branded pen, notebook and t-shirt when I arrived and met one member of staff sporting a Digital 22 sweatshirt to work (shoutout to Dan, Solutions Strategist here at Digital 22), all of which I found more sweet than sickly, much to my surprise.
In fact, after spending a few days in the office, it’s become quickly apparent the laser focus on culture here is a good thing.
“I couldn't wait to get back into the office. When I look back at the amazing memories I have from D22, none of them are at home on a Zoom call. They're all about being with people.
Visiting a client and actually seeing they have grown, hosting Love Inbound (our in-person annual marketing event), being around the team every day and the buzz, having a pint after work to celebrate something big, playing five a side or Dungeons & Dragons with the team.
That's what makes D22 special. It's being around these amazing people.” - Rikki Lear, Director
It means your workload is broken up into manageable chunks, interspersed with conversations, team meetings and activities.
Already I’ve picked a country out of a hat to participate in a Euros-themed table football tournament, been invited to play a mysterious game of Dungeons & Dragons and heard many inside jokes tossed from one team to another (many of which I’m yet to understand).
So, even with my very limited knowledge of working at Digital 22, I can confidently say the risk of diluting company culture by working remotely makes working outside the office an immediate no-go.
It seems like the world has been split into two camps: those who love Zoom and those who hate it. I sit firmly in the Zoom critics camp. What’s to like about shaky audio, delayed feedback and being distracted by your own face each and every time you speak?
"Living in a cave has its benefits. Internet access is not one of them." - Christian Horne, PPC Specialist
Sure, Zoom has its place, proving useful for international meetings and more recently, for when people are stuck in isolation. But I believe Zoom should, for the most part, be left in 2020 along with all the other, all too graphic reminders of lockdown.
Not needing to use Zoom for every work-focused conversation has already been a huge relief.
“I prefer working in the office; being around people, learning what’s going on with them, all the little moments you miss over a video chat. It’s also so much quicker just chatting at someone's desk about work tasks than booking in a video call.” - Danielle Whittaker, Senior SEO Specialist
Since starting almost two weeks ago, I’ve already had 24 meetings including short intros with every department, training sessions and team discussions. And although this sounds like a lot of conversations, none of them disrupted my workflow or felt robotic in any way.
People just speak when they need to, never awkwardly entering a game of word tennis with another attendee or forgetting they’re on mute.
As such, I’ve been able to crack on with my work and do what I get paid for -writing - which is a great way to not get fired on your first week of the job.
“As someone who started at D22 as we were coming to the end of working from home, I've found it so much easier to learn, build relationships and settle in while being in the office surrounded by supportive colleagues. Plus, nothing beats some good face to face chats and banter!” - Emma Cooper, Strategist
What’s more, quite a few of these meetings have taken place outdoors, on one of the many picnic benches outside the office. In doing this, I could catch some rays and catch up with my colleagues at the same time. Genius.
During one said occasion, a late afternoon meeting turned into an early evening drink. And as my coworkers ordered themselves a locally brewed beer, I thought to myself this is the sort of thing my dad frequently talks about when he fondly remembers how much better the world of work was in the ‘80s.
So, is it easier communication or the availability of good beer that brings the Digital 22 team to the office every day? I have a feeling it’s a bit of both.
Finally, if you’ve ever had the privilege of visiting the Digital 22 office, you’ll know the light-filled, former mill is a far cry from a clinical shell packed with cramped cubicles.
Plus, the office location isn’t to be sniffed at either.
Positioned in the heart of the Ribble Valley and nestled between a luxury cinema and one of the longest bars in Britain, there are plenty of options for drinks after work as well as places to grab a mid-afternoon coffee if you’re in need of a pick-me-up.
“We tried really hard to replicate the office vibe but it just wasn't as good. We're lucky, we have a pretty special team and an even better environment to work in, so personally, I couldn't wait to get back to the office.” - Chris Ellis, Lead PPC Specialist
The office itself is fitted with everything a modern agency likes to brag about including a pool table, karaoke machine, projector and fully stocked beer fridge.
But my personal favourite is the addition of Cushelle in the ladies. (In my opinion, nothing screams luxury like a lifetime supply of premium toilet roll).
So, while most teams might dread the thought of returning to the office, ours view it as a welcome break from being at home.
The coffee is better. The conversation is easier. The electricity bill is cheaper.
Between banter, beer and better quality toilet roll, there are plenty of reasons why our team is office-based and likely always will be.
Want to join the Digital 22 team?
We're always on the lookout for talented people to join our amazing team in our state-of-the-art office. Interested in joining the Digital 22 family and working from our Clitheroe office? Head over to our careers page below to find out which roles we’re currently recruiting for.