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Building a Team That Works (Well)

Back in April, Far Reach celebrated its fourth anniversary. At that time, we blogged about the key things we’ve learned in our first four years. We shared one of our company mantras in that post: surround yourself with smart people you like.
We were incredibly honored to find out a couple of weeks ago that our team nominated us for the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier’s Employer of Choice award. You may have seen in Monday’s publication that we were chosen as one of this year’s winners.

How do you build a team that’s passionate and productive? Foster an environment that brings out the best in every employee and makes them look forward to coming to work every day? (Well, hey, almost every day. Nobody’s perfect, right?) You don't do it by creating an "Office Space" type of environment. That movie has a cult following of cube dwellers (and, admittedly, former cube dwellers) for a reason.Here's what we do:

  1. MotivationSet high expectations by getting into the trenches yourself.  We expect a lot out of our employees, but never more than what we’d ask of ourselves as partners. We work side-by-side on projects with our employees, brainstorm together, and park ourselves in the same open office area as our team members. No corner offices here—we’ve all got the same equipment and the same amount of space. There’s a very strong sense of “we’re in this together” in the Far Reach office, both physically and metaphorically.
  2. Don’t force structure, rules, and formality when there isn’t a need for them. We don’t believe in dress codes, formal hierarchy, and a lot of employee policies. We deal with issues as they arise (which is almost never).  We treat our employees like grown ups who know what is and isn’t appropriate. They, in turn, act like grown ups. (Surprise, surprise.)  
  3. Give employees the flexibility they need to live their lives; they’ll become more devoted to their work, not less. We think work should be an organic part of a person’s day instead of an inflexible force around which everything else must revolve. Our employees have the option of working flextime and working from home when needed, and we encourage them to take time to volunteer and be active in the community. We think this flexibility makes them more productive, not less so. Our employees respect the role that work plays in their lives because Far Reach respects the fact that they have lives.  
  4. Build fun, casual, team-building experiences into the regular routine. Company picnics and holiday parties are great, but there’s something to be said about “team-member-only” bonding that gives everyone a break from the normal workday. Once a month we take an afternoon and do lunch and a movie, attend local events, or just order pizza and play Wii in the office. On paper, can we really afford the time devoted to these activities? Of course not. But we’ve become a stronger, tighter team because of them and no one will convince us that getting to know our team members as people isn’t worth the price of a few billable hours.

So, what’s the underlying theme for us when it comes to our employees? Hire smart and then manage with trust, not fear. The management style we’ve outlined above works because we’re incredibly careful about selecting our team.  We only hire people who share our passion and company values. 

To our team, we’ve definitely hired smart and we trust that you’ll continue exceeding our expectations for years to come.

And to our blog readers, does
Far Reach sound like the kind of place where you’d like to devote your energy?  Contact us. You just never know—you might be the perfect fit for our growing team.