On Culture

Nothing can affect your work like the culture of a space. The people in a class can either make the class awesome or miserable—the human element seals the deal either way.

An office is no exception. And let me tell you, I lucked out when it comes to office culture.

Like I’ve said in previous posts, I’ve basically been trying to absorb and commit to memory everything my coworkers do. I’ve learned so much about my home state, about outreach, and about how lawmakers actually do their jobs.

But I’ve also been so amazed by my coworkers’ commitment to our office’s culture. They go beyond just being their pleasant and interesting selves—they make a conscious effort to make the office a great place to work. And it makes such a difference.

Want to know what you can do to make your office a better place to work? Look no further! Here are some tips I’ve picked up so far.

1. Food.


Never underestimate the power of food. My coworkers make a point of bringing food to the office, especially when it counts most. We have a series of meetings on Mondays, so someone always brings treats for us to munch on during our meeting on Monday. Someone brought snacks to the office when we were preparing for a big event the next day. When someone in another office in our building retired, someone brought in ice cream floats and angel food cake.

Food makes people happy and saves them from falling asleep at their desks at 2:30. But it also sparks conversation and brings the office together and makes it a community. Remember that people appreciate it when you bring their favorites–one of my coworkers doesn’t eat gluten or dairy, so I made some pastries with almond flour and coconut milk and brought them to work one day, and made sure she took home the rest.

2. Holiday Decorations


Don’t be afraid to get festive. Our office currently has red, white and blue decorations up for Memorial Day/Flag Day/the 4th of July. I’d say almost all of the people who come into the office comment on it. People like it when an office is welcoming.

Decorations are even more important for the people who work there. Festive and other decorations (we have big leafy plants plus little trinkets and things the lawmaker has been given from different groups) keep the office from feeling like a big, gray, carpeted cage. Color and brightness keep people interested and alert.

3. Comfort


I’ll never forget this—the director of our office is one of the coolest dudes ever. He often accompanies our lawmaker to events she attends, and he stands there like a bodyguard—tall and straight-faced serious. And he knows how to direct the office and make sure things get done. But he also makes sure that we’re having a good time. The first day of work, he came around the corner three or four times throughout the day, took a peek at me, then yelled, “Guess what, guys! She’s still here!” The gentle teasing made me laugh and helped ease my nerves. Later on in the day, he also brought over the bowl of little chocolates we have sitting in the break area and offered me some. Those little things made me feel so welcome and relaxed.

4. Fun.

partyIt might be because she was a teacher for several decades, but one lady in our office makes sure we’re always having fun. She’s all about having parties for holidays (I found a bunch of pictures of everyone in costumes for Halloween on the office’s shared drive), remembering people’s birthdays, and adding some fun wherever she can. We had a really, really busy week a few weeks ago, and after a planning meeting one morning when it was really getting down to the wire, she pulled out a Staples Easy Button for us to press whenever we got something done. It made things almost like a game. It takes about three seconds to go push the button, but it makes things that much more fulfilling and enjoyable.

I know this doesn’t sound like much, but I promise you it is. We had a big event here in town last week, and folks from a few other offices came here to help us make everything happen. People commented constantly on how lovely our office was and how they don’t have decorations and no one ever brings food and you guys have Cherry Coke?!

The key to happiness.

The key to happiness.

Bottom line: Cherry Coke = happiness. Don’t be afraid to have a little fun.

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