Office environment can make or break an occupation. Water coolers and oversized desktops have been replaced by craft beer and laptops. With portable technology, many duties at companies can be performed from home. What can an employer do to make their employees happy to come to the office? For the Leff Communications team, one answer was a record player.
When I started at Leff we listened to the radio on a daily basis. I was grateful that my bosses cared about creating an atmosphere in which music was not just accepted, but encouraged. However, as anyone who frequently listens to the radio knows, it’s typically monotonous.
I hoped I could pollute the office with my love for records, as I have been collecting records since I was in high school. After some persuasion and volunteering to set everything up, our office had its own record player. (I honestly think that the record player was purchased so I would work from home less, but I am sure no one on the team would admit that.)
Before, each weekend at the crack of dawn I was already record digging for my own library. Now, my mission was to help curate a record collection for the office. I asked each of my colleagues about their preferences and built a unique set that flows with the moods in the office. When it’s quiet and everyone is focused we usually play classic rock, such as Boston and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Sure, these are classic radio tunes, but we get to experience the whole album and not just the hits everyone knows.
Throwing on a record or flipping the sides provides an opportunity for the group in the office to connect. Whether it’s complaining (in good fun—kind of) about Annie playing James Taylor at two o’clock zombie hour or high-fiving Rodd for selecting the Wishbone Ash album (that no one likes except Rodd and me), the group gets to communicate, even mid-task.
Sometimes when coffee or Red Bull doesn’t do the trick, we put on Guns N’ Roses or Thin Lizzy for an energy boost. What’s great about having a collection and an office full of unique tastes is that we frequently jump from Roses to Lizzy to Funkadelic without skipping a beat.
Besides creating an enjoyable work environment, what does our record collection have to do with content development?
We all have different ideas about music—different tastes and preferences. But when we’re in the office together, we enjoy letting everyone take a turn choosing the next album, and each of us has learned something new along the way.
Similarly, content development works best as a shared experience. Our unique tastes have resulted in an incredible music collection, far better than what each of us could have accomplished on our own. Similarly, we each bring a unique skillset to our projects. A variety of content and design expertise and viewpoints makes our work balanced, and results in a far better end result than what each of us could have achieved on our own.
It is our office’s belief, and many other smart people’s, that optimal collaboration is possible when coworkers connect about more than just the task at hand. Talking about music leads to talking about an album we loved growing up which leads to an anecdote about childhood and so on. And when we all know and like each other as more than “design associate” and “editorial director,” we are ultimately better workers, because we’re happy to be here and able to work on projects together fluidly—ideally while listening to Prince.