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Mary Mazzoni headshot

3p Weekend: What Creative Workspaces and Fantasy Football Have in Common


With a busy week behind you and the weekend within reach, there’s no shame in taking things a bit easy on Friday afternoon. With this in mind, every Friday TriplePundit will give you a fun, easy read on a topic you care about. So, take a break from those endless email threads, and spend five minutes catching up on the latest trends in sustainability and business.

As scores of happy (and not-so-happy) fans know all too well, the pro football season kicked off last week. Now, after reviewing scores from week one, fantasy football owners must make sure they are asking the right questions to inform their lineups before a new round of games begin. One of the most common queries is: Who will score the most points this year?

Unfortunately, that question won't lead players down the path to success. Instead, fantasy owners should focus their efforts on constructing a weekly, winning lineup. Similarly, organizations should focus on assembling the right team to ensure success and employee support, said Max Chopovsky, founder of Chicago Creative Space, a culture consultancy and online platform that features videos of Chicago's most interesting workplaces.

As it turns out, successful workplaces and winning football teams have a lot in common. Chopovsky let us in on the following five tips for creating a successful team, both on and off the field.

1. Draft the right players

"You have to hire the right people; you've got to be sure that they genuinely want success for your organization," Chopovsky said. "There's a saying about sports: 'You don't field the 11 best, you field the best 11.' You have to put the best people on the field that perform cohesively as a group. They have to understand that there's a common goal, and they have to be very results-oriented."

So, how do workspaces fit in? Before you can land those perfect employees, you have to get them interested first. "Space has to be an accurate representation of [a company's] culture," Chopovsky said. "You can say you have a great culture, but if your space is not a fit for that, then when the candidate walks in they're going to see that."

For example, Red Frog Events, an events promotion company based in Chicago, dubbed their workspace "Camp Red Frog" -- complete with tree houses, zip lines and even foosball tables, a nod to the company's irreverent, offbeat culture. Click the photo below to watch the workplace tour. 

2. Bring the team together

"You need camaraderie when you go into battle as a team," Chopovsky said. "You need to understand that the guy or girl next to you is going to have your back -- and that you don't have to ask them."

When it comes to the workspace, this is very critical: It's one thing to have an open door policy, but it's another to break down the physical walls between executives and employees and allow a free flow of ideas. When Steve Jobs was consulting on the design of a new office for Pixar, he mandated an open atrium in the center of the space that employees would have to cross to grab a cup of coffee or use the restroom, Chopovsky said. As Jobs put it, "When people make eye contact, things happen."

Braintree's Chicago office, for example, features a huge open area where employees can meet, share ideas and strengthen their connections. Click the photo below to watch the workplace tour. 

3. Foster solid values

Setting solid values is crucial to any team, whether it's on the field or in the board room. One example of solid values at work is fostering an environment of trust and transparency, Chopovsky said. For example, if the whole team is meeting -- from interns all the way up to the CEO -- and a summer intern offers an idea that's better than the CEO's idea, the team should be okay with that, he continued, which is where trust comes in.

"Space is direct reflection of those values," he continued. "For trust and transparency, you obviously can't have a bunch of offices and walls separating your team." Allowing ample open space for co-working or using glass instead of drywall are two ways to allow trust and transparency to shine through the workspace.

kCura, which develops Web-based e-discovery applications for litigation and investigations, took things a step further: The company's workspace features its core values literally written on the walls; it also uses these values to make hiring decisions. Click the photo below to watch the workplace tour. 

4. Provide the right tools

It's important for football players to have access to the right equipment and the right training facilities, but it's equally important to give employees the tools they need to succeed. This ranges from ample natural light and open space for co-working to increasingly popular BYOD (bring your own device programs), Chopovsky said.

"If your employees are spending time thinking about: 'How can I do something?' or 'How can I make something work?' ... they're spending less time thinking about their work," he explained.

For example, in addition to a welcoming workspace, financial services company Enova supports virtually any BYOD device you can think of -- allowing its employees to use what makes them most comfortable in order to succeed on the job. Click the photo below to watch the workplace tour. 

5. Remove all barriers to success

"We've heard this described almost in these exact words ... You must remove all the barriers, all the obstacles that stand between your team and their work," Chopovsky said.

"Take the [Coyote Logistics] video for example: It's over a $2 billion company, and the CEO of that company, who's also the co-founder, will sit out with his employees." That's a big deal, he went on to explain, as it goes beyond "my door is always open" to sharing ideas with employees on a daily basis. Click the photo below to watch the workplace tour. 

Other options may be as simple as a growling belly, Chopovsky continued. Google, for example, provides a full-floor cafeteria at its Chicago office so employees will spend more time thinking about work and less time thinking about feeling peckish.

Based in Philadelphia, Mary Mazzoni is a senior editor at TriplePundit. She's also an avid fantasy sports player still trying to turn those playoff berths into championship victory. (Currently in round-one in her fantasy baseball league -- crossed fingers are appreciated.) You can follow her on Twitter @mary_mazzoni.

Mary Mazzoni headshotMary Mazzoni

Mary Mazzoni is the senior editor of TriplePundit and director of TriplePundit's Brand Studio. She is based in Philadelphia and loves to travel, spend time outdoors and experiment with vegetarian recipes in the kitchen. Along with TriplePundit, her recent work can be found in Conscious Company and VICE’s Motherboard.

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