On today’s Culture Collective, we sat down with Olivia Lengyel to talk about her views on workplace culture. Olivia is an Operations Coordinator at Paperspace. Before her time at Paperspace, she worked in theatrical casting in NYC. She loves being able to encourage her fellow employees to share their thoughts and ideas. In her free time, she teaches ballet, tap and musical theatre classes, and spends time relaxing at Domino Park. Read more below.
What are three words to describe your workplace culture?
Three words I would use to describe our workplace culture are ambitious, collaborative and exciting. Ambitious and exciting kind of go hand in hand, because it is a smaller start up. Of course, we want to push ourselves and for the product to be the best. It’s exciting to take on new challenges every day and machine learning is also something that is changing every day, so it’s really interesting.
We’re collaborative, because we have an open door policy. Everyone is welcome to share their thoughts and opinions. We also have an open floor plan so it’s easy for our team to interact with each other even if they’re not on your personal team. It’s nice to be able to go around and just say, “Hey, what’s up?” We all come from pretty diverse backgrounds. A lot of us are not traditionally engineers. Our two co-founders went to school for architecture. I went to school for theatre, we have people who went to school for dance. There are practicing jazz musicians in our office. Our team is so collaborative because we come from such diverse backgrounds and different trains of thought.
What is your office super power? (ex. most organized)
As the youngest person in the office and as one of two women who work in the office, I try to keep everyone up to date with more social current events, as well as social events in general. This is just so we aren’t all about work all the time, because you have to take a break sometimes. When we moved offices here in February, I took it upon myself to research all the areas around us and dubbed myself the “Queen of Bushwick,” as I had all this information.
Why is company culture important?
Company culture is essentially what keeps everyone grounded and motivated if there’s a stressful sprint or a particularly stressful project that is going on. As long as everyone knows that you’re all in this together and have the same core values and are pushing towards the same greater goal, you’re going to be able to get through the tougher times.
What does your team normally do for lunch?
It really depends on the day. A lot of times we’ll pair off or group off and go to a deli or a bodega together. We always sit together. When we have special occasions, such as a new employee’s first day or a “lunch and learn,” a lot of times we’ll use a catering company. This is to make sure that people are fed and can focus on introducing themselves to the new employee instead of what they are going to eat. It’s just something they don’t have to think about and something they tend to specifically talk about.
What are ways your company brings your team together?
Just generally spending time together throughout the day. We have dinner every day together. And, even if it’s just hopping by a desk and saying hi — we’re a pretty small company so it would be pretty weird if no one talked to each other throughout the day.
We also have company-wide inside jokes. Our company mascot that we decided on was that we are the Party Parrots. We went to a Mets game and got customized t-shirts that say “Party Parrots” on them. We also have happy hours pretty much every Friday and we try to throw large office parties and make them pretty memorable.
If you could propose an idea to positively impact any company’s culture, what would it be and why? What is your advice to help improve company culture?
Just try as best as possible to make sure that everyone is heard. That doesn’t mean that every comment will be implemented, but just make sure that everyone feels safe to share their thoughts and opinions. It’s easier for a smaller company, but even if it’s something they think could be improved in the office or someone finds someone’s work is really great or they completed a long project. Just make sure work is acknowledged and everyone is heard.