The term "culture" has been taken a beating, lately. And rightly so! Many workplaces have co-opted the term as a reason why their employees should work unreasonably hard without proper compensation. You should be willing, happy even, they seem to say, to sacrifice your work-life balance, because we have a great culture. Or even worse: working hard IS our culture!
But don't be fooled. Actual good office cultures have existed long before the start of this unfortunate trend, and many workplaces still exist where life at the office is healthy, balanced and fulfilling. Believe it or not, some companies promote culture specifically for the benefit of their employees; after all, attracting and keeping the right people is an instrumental step in a company's success, so having an honest-to-goodness solid culture benefits everyone. And we at Retro Rabbit firmly believe that we get it right. Here's why:
Long ago, when the entire company could still fit in a small bus, our culture was truly organic. We were a group of oddballs, of fun and interesting and smart and hard-working people, and we had fun and interesting interactions, and held each other to a high standard of quality and ingenuity. This was our culture. It was hard to put a finger on it, but it was there.
But as we grew in numbers, it became clear that our culture would not remain magically in place. We took some time to introspect, to identify the elements of our culture that we would like to protect, and we devised a strategy to formalise those aspects of our identity, as well as grow the culture. We put organisational-level devices in place to actively maintain and promote the good parts of our identity, and that was adaptable enough to let us embrace new additions. We create The Movements.
Now, there are four Movements at Retro Rabbit. Each movement, detailed below, is a committee of employees who are tasked with keeping a particular aspect of our culture going. They do this by organising events, activities, programmes and initiatives, both internally for Retro Rabbit employees, and externally for the wider community around us. The four Movements are:
- Culture Cultivators: Taking care of our social needs, maintaining our day-to-day connections, and keeping a finger on the social pulse of the organisation.
- Knowledge Ninjas: Ensures that everyone keeps learning, and that the knowledge of individuals gets shared with everyone.
- Humanitarian Warriors: No company is an island, and this movement's focus is on giving back to the wider community.
- Student Ambassadors: University students and prospective new workers face an imposing gap to the industry. This committee offers bridges.
Let's get to know these Movements a little better.
So what does the Retro Rabbit Culture Cultivators Movement do? The short answer, we do all the FUN things! We are sometimes referred to in the company as “Social Club”, although we prefer the much cooler “Culture Cultivators”. We arrange and facilitate social activities for the employees of Retro Rabbit.
This encompasses everything from having a casual LAN at the office on a Saturday to renting mountain bikes and seeing who is brave enough to fall on the “Advanced” trail. And let's not forget, our legendary Beer Fest!
Retro Rabbit has always been social in a fun way. Since we've been thrust into lockdown and working from home, though, we could no longer take our interactions for granted. Our Movements has been making sure that everyone stays connected.
We stand for corporate social responsibility — CSR, in short. At the heart of any great company lies its willingness and ability to give back to society. It is for this reason that the Humanitarian Warriors were brought to life at Retro Rabbit, together with the rest of the Movements. The Humanitarian Warriors inspire and rally the Rabbits together for great causes, be it a Blood Drive (blood donations), animal rescues, donating old tech/hardware, children and elders in need, planting trees for arbor weeks, to name but a few.
The Humanitarian Warriors also know that charity starts at home and they won't miss a beat to run donation drives internally. As we find ourselves in more troubling times, it becomes more of a challenge to get people to donate some of their hard earned money, so the Warriors had to become more creative to get people to participate in donation drives, therefore the Warriors rely on some of the more adventurous Rabbits to do some silly dares, such as jumping into a freezing pool during winter, in order to raise funds! While it is great to be able to donate to causes, the Warriors also realise that it is important to keep track of company morale, so we arrange regular talks with outside experts for upliftment: tools to cope with these challenging "new" times and to take care of one's mental health.
The Student Ambassador Movement is the hidden gem of the Retro Rabbit Movements. Our responsibilities entail enforcing a mind shift to allow students from universities, colleges, and educational organisations to plan a future in line with their career goals and aspirations while living a balanced and fulfilled life. This forms part of our many initiatives: jump sessions, hackathons, guest lectures, mentorship programs, TED talks, and sponsorships. This is to bridge the gap between students' institutions and their future work environments.
The foundation of the movement is driven by the quote:
Gaining knowledge is the first step to wisdom. Sharing it is the first step to humanity.
Retro Rabbit's line of work falls under something called "knowledge work", which is an excellent descriptor: our knowledge is a crucial asset in our work. If we are to be the best at what we do (and we are!) we need an active agenda of continuous learning and knowledge sharing. This is what the Knowledge Ninjas do.
This movement's contributions include organising regular tech talks, sending Rabbits to conferences, hosting our very own conference, creating online spaces for knowledge sharing, and setting up the occasional crossword puzzle. The tech talks are especially important to us; multiple times a month, we give a platform to a speaker or a team to present (over Zoom, naturally), which lets us see what other teams have gotten up to and learn some of the insights they have gleaned, and when the talks are particularly lively, we even debate different approaches and philosophies.
The flagship event is our internal conference, RR.conf. When it was still safe to have this event in person, we gathered our entire staff together for a day of learning, featuring talks by our own Rabbits as well as some of the best and most interesting speakers we could find around the country. The food was pretty tasty as well!