By Big Spaceship
Every Friday, we invite creative professionals into our studio to share what they’re working on for a Show and Tell. As we’ve previously mentioned, we recently had the pleasure of hanging out with two talented ladies from Warby Parker. As appreciators of fine company culture, we were stoked when Stephanie Wu (Director of Design) and Jen Rubio (Head of Social Media) gave us the inside scoop about what happens behind the doors of this little company that makes big things happen. From a circus at SXSW to an April Fools day prank that’s still being talked about, the 70 passionate individuals inside their Soho office make sure all their hard work is balanced out with a healthy serving of fun. Here are seven tips for superb company culture we took away from the ladies at Warby Parker.
1. Be deliberate
It’s no accident that Warby Parker has a fantastic company culture — they plan for it (and have a whole group dedicated to do so). Within the company, the aptly named “culture team” is in charge of planning company outings and themed luncheons. They also play a part in the new employee screening process, ensuring the culture lifecycle lives on with every new employee — 20/20 and optically challenged folk alike.
2. Find comfort through discomfort
To encourage a more unified work force, the company started playing weekly rounds of “lunch roulette” where four randomly selected employees are sent out to lunch together so they can get to know each other. Sort of like a blind date, but way better.
3. Hold everyone accountable
Growing so quickly in such a short amount of time requires employees to be extremely agile. Which means at Warby Parker, everyone gets trained on the Customer Experience team. When someone wanders into the showroom to try on a pair of glasses without an appointment, a web developer could very well be the guy helping you make the tough choice between a pair of Huxleys and Crosbys. Additionally, a good marketing idea can come from anyone in the office rather than being relegated to a specific department. The collaborative culture doesn’t stop there: the entire crew shares “clean up craps” in the office kitchen. No one is exempt from the dirty work.
4. Always have something to look forward to
Every quarter a group of employees on the “fun committee” plan a surprise outing for the entire crew. In the past this has meant open bars and DJ lessons, but as Stephanie + Jen told us, every outing is always a surprise and has to top the next. So as the crew keeps growing the possibilities do too.
5. Set role models
Even though they’re doing pretty well on their own, the little startup has high aspirations — the company looks up to Lulu Lemon, Nike & Zappos for growth, culture and customer service. Employees have even fostered relationships with people at these role model companies who happily consult with Warby team, providing insight and advice.
6. Walk the walk
While the fate of most mission statements is to be forgotten in the front of a business plan, Warby Parker makes sure that employees remember the foundation that the company was built on, every single day. The 10 company ideals are framed in the office kitchen as a constant reminder for the crew.
7. Choose wisely
Warby Parker has caused a stir with their untraditionally awesome approach to promotion. Our favorites range from the New York Public Library installation during Fashion Week to using branded bikes as mobile vendors during Art Basel in Miami. The key to making these fantastic things happen is partnerships with companies who share similar mentalities toward culture and business (they frequently partners with studio Partners & Spade) – creating a mutually beneficial relationship which both parties can benefit and grow from.
So, there you have it: seven learnings from Warby Parker that you can apply to your own business or culture.
Image via Warby Parker