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Inspiring innovation

Posted in: Employing people
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Having worked at Sage for over two years now, I’m acutely aware of the importance of culture, and also the physical environment I work in.

Admittedly, in previous roles before I joined Sage, I had an assumption that culture was an abstract ingredient that just existed. If there was any attempt to shape culture, it was usually handed down from senior people in the business, who tended to be very far away from me personally.

Probably not the best conditions to ensure success I’m sure you’ll agree.

Daniel Duran decorates the Accountants' Office

An innovative approach to business

Something that is very clear from working at Sage, is that there is a very ‘flat’ structure to our culture. In other words, everyone from the CEO, to executives, to support lines and sales will afford you the time and opportunity to voice your ideas and contribute. The result is that ideas can come from anywhere, and this leads to a truly innovative approach to business, particularly important in a technology company.

Accountability

A culture like this doesn’t happen overnight though. It is bred over time, by empowering people, and giving them accountability. This is the hallmark of a business with a strong culture. However the intangible aspects (behaviours, impulses and decisions) are only part of the story.

A prevalent trend at the moment is to brand office spaces with the desired characteristics for employees to exhibit. This is something we’ve recently undertaken in Sage Accountants’ Division.
Sage Accountants' Team Office

Aside from communicating desired behaviours, branding office space can also influence processes and how we communicate. For example, communal areas where people can talk mean that business can be conducted in a calm and relaxed manner. TV screens on each floor allow us to instantly feedback comments from our customers.

Innovative offices

A great example of a branded office space is Google offices, particularly the Googleplex in California. Walls are painted with bright primary colours reflecting the Google logo and fun, vibrant brand. Live searches that are being conducted around the world are beamed straight into the communal areas, highlighting global trends, and informing product development. There’s even a slide and a fireman’s poll! Evidence if any were needed that Google is a fun and innovative place to work. This also reflects a culture of innovation, where developers spend 30% of their time working on anything they like. Complete responsibility and accountability in action, and this results in a constant stream of new products like Gmail, Chrome, Wave and Circles. Granted, not all of them have been a resounding success, but they are prime examples of a brave and innovative approach to business.

Boosting creativity

You might not have Google’s budget but here are a few cheap and cheerful things you could do in your office to boost creativity:

  • Always focus on the desired characteristics of the brand – Are you repositioning the brand, or simply maintaining what you already exhibit? This should form the essence of the branding in your office space.
  • Involve your employees – There will be certain degree of control needed, but always ensure that you encourage content and ideas from your employees. It’s where they will be working after all.
  • Refresh your content – Try and stay on top of refreshing the messaging in your office. Strategic plans have defined stages, so ensure you have the right message at the right time.
  • Be brave and innovative – It’s not just customers who like innovation, employees thrive on it too. Try and incorporate original ideas and media into your office. It’ll get high levels of engagement.”

What is clear from all of these activities is that they are the starting point for delivering exceptional customer service. If you focus on and take care of your staff, they will be in the best position possible to offer customers superior service, and also extoll the virtues of the brand.

Having empowered our staff in Accountants’ Division, we’re starting to see results, like winning the Customer Service Training Award this year, and also signing up our 10,000th Sage Accountants’ Club member, so long may this process continue.

Daniel Duran, Sage Accountants’ Team

Posted in: Employing people
234 comment

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