Digital Boomerang

User Experience

What can other companies learn from the way you’ve designed and maintained your work environment?: 

Here at Digital Boomerang (DB), we focus a lot on positivity, possibilities and bouncing back when the going goes tough. We believe positivity breeds possibilities, and a happy working culture! The practices we put in place helps us build this happy culture: 

1. APPRECIATIONS

We try to focus on the good things we encounter each day. It’s easy to criticize and point out the things that don't go well each day, and dwell on it, but we know that actually makes us miserable and upset. Here at DB, we want to focus on the things that makes us happy, the things that make this culture something we enjoy. We make ‘Appreciations’ a fixed segment in all our meetings, so we can culture the habit of positivity that permeates through the company. Now it has almost become a habit of everyone in the company!

2. PERSONAL PROJECTS 

We do mainly client work, but what better way to keep our passion and creativity alive with projects of our own? E.g Our office corgi Sir Rupert’s Facebook page is our Editor’s pet project ? Do check it out! http://www.facebook.com/Rupert.Sir

3. CHECK-INS 

Done at the start of every weekday, everyone huddles together to update each other on their mood, and their to-do list for the day. The mood ratings (1-10) while totally arbitrary, is still a good indicator of a colleague’s mood for the day. We believe that together as a team, we can help him/her to make it better. During check-ins, we also run through everyone’s to-do list to help each other keep track of his/her tasks and to help project teams collaborate better. 

Here's Yuen leading our check-ins!

4. WRAP-UPS 

We end each work day with a wrap-up email to conclude our day. Everyone writes and submits their wrap-ups to a common email address where everyone is subscribed to. Similar to check-ins, we can all see how the person is feeling at the end of the day and what they’ve learned for the week. Wrap-ups are also useful in helping us keep track of each other’s work and personal milestones. 

5. WEEKLY TEAM MEETING 

We organize our weekly team meeting to maintain camaraderie in company as a whole and also to table topics that affect the entire company for discussion. We use this time to interact with one another, appreciate one another, eat, drink and be merry. This is also a good avenue to make announcements, and make team decisions. E.g recently we did a Strengths Game to remind ourselves of each other’s strengths! We also discussed our yearly company trip and our office space design together in these meetings!

Here's us doing an outdoor team meeting!

6. OPEN BOOK CONCEPT

Here at DB we practise an open-book concept where finances, sales targets, expenditures of each department are transparent to everyone. We understand that this is a practice not easily acceptable in many organisations, but we believe that this transparency signifies trust and helps us all be more transparent about how we are truly performing as departments and as a company.

What are the key aspects of your work environment that make it conducive to productivity and employee satisfaction?: 

1. OUR OFFICE SPACE!

Our office space in itself is a big catalyst for collaboration. We adopt an open office concept so collaboration is more commonplace. Yes, we know the cons of adopting an open office concept, but we chose to take on these issues, because we believe the rewards of the open office concept is actually higher than the issues it brings!

2. PROTOLABS

We recently created Protolabs to create a safe environment for us to explore new directions and projects we would like to take on. Once a week, we take one day off to work on new projects. This is a big boost for our productivity – we have used this platform to refine our processes and our products. Did I mention? Our first product is an application that helps build the appreciation culture in organizations. We can't wait to share them with our clients!

Here's us kickstarting our first Protolabs session at the beach!

3. WEEKLY DEPARTMENT MEETINGS

Every department in the company meets up weekly with 1 representative of the other departments. Here we do updates on our projects to the entire department. We also take the chance to bounce ideas with others in the department. Yes the inspiration you get from3 designers is definitely a lot more mindblowing that just 1 designer working on the project. You get it! We also make use of this platform to solve problems we face together as a department. Other department representatives also partake in our department solutions, to ensure we don’t work alone as a department – after all, all the departments work together for projects!

4. PLUS ONE SESSIONS

We usually do plus one sessions during our weekly department meetings, where we give each other constructive feedback to improve our work. Yes constructive! You know how feedback can be, it can be paralyzing or leave the recipient not knowing what to do. Here we call it Plus Ones because it is designed to help the receiver receive +1 point of excellence – so it is within his reach! We believe that from there, it is then easier for him to achieve a 2 or 3 points more on his own!

5. SIR RUPERT THE GREAT!

Our office manager Sir Rupert (a corgi dog) is probably also the Happiness Manager! He brings a whole new dimension to office satisfaction! Sir Rupert is everyone’s darling. Sir Rupert has indeed made the office environment a lot more casual and less tense – we even take turns to bring him for walks!

This is Rupert making it to the local papers.

Also did you know pets have proven to have beneficial effects on mental and emotional well-being? Do check out his Facebok page here www.facebook.com/Rupert.Sir! We even take turns to update his Instagram account @sirrupertofdb.

Here's one of Rupert during his birthday celebration!

And Rupert standing in for our coder!

What challenges and opportunities in creating a positive work environment are unique to user-oriented practitioners?: 

It is indeed challenging to create this positive work environment for user-oriented practitioners. But so far we’ve grown from a core team of 5 to our current 16! We think our culture’s still intact, and in fact a lot more positive and enjoyable now!

We are indeed designed to attract and retain a specific kind of practitioner – people who are aligned on the same vision and culture. People who want to do great things, and build a positive happy work culture with us!

We also tend to attract emotionally mature people, people who do not see sickness but see challenges as an opportunity to grow and be better, both personally and professionally. We also tend to attract people who possess intrinsic motivations at work, more than those only motivated by extrinsic rewards.  

Some challenges we face are: 

  • Attracting people who share a similar vision. These people are few, but we’ll grab them as soon as we can! Of course they must be able to do the job too.

Some opportunities we have exploited:

  • Hiring Process. We understand that the culture is affected by any addition or departure of a team member, so in DB we take hiring very seriously! Typically every applicant passes through 3 rounds. The 1st round is a skills test by the hiring department. We assess the applicant's ability to do the job! The 2nd round is a round robin interview where the applicant has a face-to-face session with 1 representative from the other teams. This round assesses the applicants’ cultural fit and possible rapport with members of the other team. The 3rd round is a session with our founder Charlotte, who shares a lot more about our company vision etc. and sees if the applicant is aligned.
  • Personal visions and team visions – We do visioning once a year as a team and as an organization to see whether we are aligned, and to craft a common vision/goal for us to work towards.

What measures do you use to monitor and maintain employee satisfaction, both at a group level and an individual level, and how has that affected how you’ve crafted your work environment?: 

 

1. Peer & Self-Reviews

We do peer reviews and self-reviews every half a year to once a year, to assess each other’s performance (we write things like like best about that colleague, or what we would like him/her to do differently). Peer reviews and self-reviews help us keep each other’s satisfaction in check.

2. Wrap Ups

Our wrapup emails also give a rough indication of the level of satisfaction of employees in the company. 

Here's one from Charlotte: 

every now and then things get a bit messy and when you are out there in the arena slicing and dicing dunking and being dunked its easy to forget there is a love, peace, joy, love and support. and the little world that we have been creating these 11 years bring tremendous joy, experience, love and support to others even if we are not able to be there to enjoy much of it these days. i guess that's how it is in the cave ages, you have to hunt, means u have to hunt, and it goes on for weeks, and months. 

Occasionally, we get a little note from home. A wrap up to read. and it energises you. you smile. and its all worthwhile. the dream to be able to make a place for people who want to do their best work, to have people walking with you who walk the talk, are inspired and inspiring to others :) - Charlotte

3. Personality Profiling

We understand everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, but ignoring it won’t make it go away! Here at DB, we invest a lot in personality profiling tools like the MBTI profiles, PRISM mapping and Gallup’s Strengthsfinder. We do so not to park people into different profiles, but to help everyone be aware and understand themselves and others better, so we can work and collaborate better. Did I mention? We’re a really diverse company – we have employees covering almost all of the MBTI profiles! We believe that awareness helps us understand. 

4. Movie Nights!

We hold our movie nights once to twice a year! We invite our friends, partners, clients to enjoy the movies we’re really hot about! Last year Sir Rupert (our office manager) invited everyone to watch Superman. Here's him in his Ruperman suit! Everyone loved it! 

5. Company Holidays

Did I mention? We’re a company, we’re colleagues, we’re also friends, or more like a family. We eat together, laugh together, grow together and play together! Last year we went to Sibu Island together. One of our colleagues even faced her fear for swimming together with all of us. So glad we’re part of her milestone. 

Here's us, working and playing together.

Please provide any employee testimonials and, if available, retention/turn-over data that indicates your work environment is especially healthy.: 

Interns that return 

Yan Ling used to be our intern. After working elsewhere for 2 years, she came back to join us as our UX research consultant. She says that the culture is what she enjoys. She used to be really afraid of dogs, but now she loves Sir Rupert too and constantly updates his Instagram page. Oh yes and Claire too! She interned with us 2 years ago. Recently she came back to pass us some stickers she made for us. It is lovely as our gift for our new office move.

Here's Claire's stickers depicting us!

Ex-staff & interns still friends 

Jiayi, Alexis and Jose, who have left us, still hangs out with us. Recently, Jiayi and Alexis came back to visit us when we moved to our new office. We know we’ve been a part of their lovely memories when things like these happen! Not only the ex-staff, but interns as well – recently Denise and Edwin invited us to their school events. We’re so happy to see how they've grown since their internship.

Long-term Hires

We know our culture works when employees stay with us for 7 years straight. Colin and Elaine are part of the pioneering team together with Charlotte, who is our founder. 7 years is a long time – we’ve seen them grow from the 20s to the 30s now. That really shows a lot about our culture, isn’t it?