Do you ever find yourself in a situation where, no matter how many times you've explained to your mum, dad, sister or brother what you do, they still don't ever really understand? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard "so, what is it you actually do?"
Mum, this is for you!
I’ve spent five wonderful years with Kyan and my official title is Office & Culture Manager, but what does it all mean? Well I'll tell you what it doesn't mean. I’m not a receptionist nor am I a secretary — two roles which my job can easily be confused with and I can see why. An Office Manager can be perceived as somebody who answers the phone, greets visitors, makes teas, and clicks about on a few spreadsheets. That’s not incorrect, I definitely do some of those things, but I also do a great deal more, like play with the office dogs and drink desk gins on a Friday. (Just kidding!)
I could make things simpler by telling you my day-to-day routine but, there's no such thing. I mean, does anyone really have a day-to-day routine? And this leads me to what I’m about to say next. Every single working day is different. My job, at the best of times, can be unpredictable. It sometimes feels like I’m juggling five tasks in one hand whilst handling a bigger issue in the other! Unlike some of the team here who have their work scheduled and mapped out for the day, my day is the complete opposite to that. My day branches off in organic ways.
Campus (the office)
Where I work is not some stuffy, paper-filled, departmentalised, non-atmospheric environment. Kyan is a very cool space... beautifully bespoke fitted furniture, a fully stocked bar, cosy booths, a secret meeting room, arcade machine, ping-pong table, exotic plants, bleachers, and dogs! We’re very lucky to call this our place of work and it’s my job to keep on top of it. It’s a big space and the upkeep can be challenging along with juggling other bits and bobs.
We moved in to Kyan Campus just under a year ago, and up until now there have been the odd snagging jobs and office improvements to deal with. We’re pretty much there now but still, it always needs one person to sustain its ‘wow’ factor. It’s not just the Faces of Kyan who get to enjoy this place. We’re graced by the presence of our lovely clients, and we don’t just welcome them here for meetings, we welcome them here to work remotely — something we’re seeing happen more and more these days. So it’s important that they feel comfortable and at home. This alone is a big enough reason to incentivise myself and other members of the team to maintain Kyan Campus' awesomeness.
I am that first face, the one who leaves that lasting impression when clients walk through the door. The client services team do a great job at giving me a heads-up on who’s coming in, when, what’s required and any special requests. It’s then down to me to make sure we deliver on all of these.
It was only the other day I had a request from a new client for a particular style of coffee. An Espresso Macchiato... yeah, I had no idea what it was either and to be honest this isn’t Starbucks, so we don’t really have the fancy facilities to make it happen. But I wanted to make it happen, so I did. What I’m trying to get at, is that this client who I had never met before, who didn’t even know my name, walked up to me on his way out and said "Helen, that coffee was just perfect, thank you!" I’m aware we’re just talking about a cup of coffee here, but it’s those moments that you realise going the extra mile and delivering on those small details will make their visit a memorable one.
People and HR
One of the things I value most about my job is that although I may not work as part of a team, I’m in a position where I get to communicate with everyone. No matter how big, small, important or not so important that piece of communication might be, it’s a nice opportunity to engage and connect with everyone here from booking conference tickets, enrolling someone with the gym, ordering new kit or organising a nice gesture for someone who’s worked especially hard on a project.
Over the years, I’ve adopted the responsibilities of what an HR person would do. There’s the standard tasks of coordinating performance reviews and taking care of all personal data and keeping those records up to date. Looking out for staff wellbeing and considering how we as a company can help individuals. I also keep track of the team’s day to day whereabouts i.e logging sickness, days off, etc.
The people at Kyan are hugely important to us, so one of the areas we recognise as important to get right is ensuring their journey from their first interview right up to their first day is the best it can possibly be. Mapping out the joiner/leaving journey was something I became involved in and it’s something that we’re continuing to perfect. First and lasting impressions really are everything! Once your foot is in the door, I’m the person who will prepare a nice welcome breakfast for you and the your new team mates, get your welcome box bits together, take care of you on your first day and guide you through a (hopefully) seamless, relaxed and enjoyable induction. And likewise, if you were to leave, it’s still just as important to give you the send off you deserve!
I took great enjoyment in writing our company handbook. It was a good exercise to learn and stretch my understanding of our business, by typing out pages and pages of company guides and policies. It was a lengthy process, lots of coffee was consumed and after about 86 proof reads, tweaks and a nice bit of work from the dev and design team, we created the most stylish digital handbook you ever did see!
We live it, and we breathe it. We consider it in just about everything we do.
There are so many layers as to what defines Kyan’s culture; the office, the people, our ethics, our language, and it’s because of the office environment, flat structure and treating each other as human beings that results in a natural flow of working relationships. And in turn, we’re all happy to hang out with each other and have fun once we clock off.
Me and my ‘team social’ partner in Crime, Amy, are responsible for making all the fun happen. Creatively we work well together, and we’re always bouncing ideas of one another, plus we have similar visions on how we want things to run. Every few weeks we get together over a desk gin or a tea (depending what time of the day it is) to collaborate on ideas and make sure we have lots of things lined up for the team to look forward to.
It’s important to us that we factor in a variety of events for a number of reasons.
- Variety is the spice of life!
- We never want anyone to feel forced into doing something that they’re not comfortable with
- Keeping ‘variety’ in mind means there is (almost) something for everyone
Social gatherings happen so frequently that bringing fresh ideas to the table can naturally be quite challenging, but that’s where you have to think outside of the box a little. For example, we had some Pimm's left over from our summer party, so I decided to serve ‘pre-England match’ Pimm's at the bar. With all the trimmings!
Just last week we had CheeseFest; a ping-pong table full of a mix of cheeses, chutneys, crackers and fruit and all in the aid of absolutely nothing. Just an appreciation of cheese.
Once a month, all of the staff get together for our ‘First Friday Challenge’ which is a series of mystery challenges every first Friday of the month. We’ve played Bop-it, Hungry Hippos, IQ puzzles and Rapidoh. It’s simply a nice opportunity for all of the team to get together for 10 minutes of fun, usually followed by Friday beers at the local.
Themed days are always a good one to work with because you can be as creative as you like. One of the official days this year was ‘Wellbeing Day’ so we created our own Kyan Wellness Day. We laid out a healthy breakfast of yoghurts, energy shots and fruit, and we left wellness packs out on people’s desks containing zen-like goodies and essentials. I arranged for our wonderful in-house masseuse Carla to do massages, and a lunchtime talk on ‘The Importance of Sleeping’ tied in nicely to the day.
As well as all of the goodness we inject inside of the office, we also like to get up to mischief outside of Campus walls. This year alone so far we’ve done bowling, ginfest, kick back comedy, climbing, escape rooms, cinema trips, drink & draw, go-karting, our epic summer party and one summers day. See... variety, and it’s only July. There’s plenty more in the pipeline to look forward to. In fact we can add one more to that list soon as we’re doing archery. Proper Archery like this, not this.
I’m a keen photographer and Instagrammer outside of work, so to be involved in this at work is something I really enjoy, naturally.
The content we post across various platforms is a combination of industry/work-related content, plus all the fun behind-the-scenes stuff that we get up to.
At the start of each week, myself, Amy (Events Manager) and Ben (Marketing Manager) team up for a creative brainstorming session. We put forward content ideas and plan the week ahead. We try to cover as many areas of the business as we can shout about... culture, events, careers, weekly themes, thought leadership/industry related. There’s also opportunity for ad-hoc bits here and there, like when I film a sneaky time-lapse of the team sweating it out at our Field of Fitness sessions. I’m sure they love me for that.
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So that's me. That's my job. Office & Culture Manager. Doer of many things. Director of good vibes. Morale booster. Professional juggler.