Crouching Buddha, hidden ninja

18 March 2015


Anne-Marie Lister
Anne-Marie Lister

Crouching Buddha, hidden ninja

Developing an environment that fosters productivity and fun

We’re building a bank. OH MY GOD. We’re building a bank!

Some days it seems insurmountable. Others, surmountable. We’re doing it though and we’re having huge successes along the way.

The key is to not think about the enormity of what we’re undertaking and instead focus on specific areas, specific initiatives, projects and tasks. The enormity often leaves you breathless; every now and then you’ll hear an ‘enormity gasp’ within the office. Someone who has clearly let their mind go to ‘that place’; that huge place where you realise the full extent of the task in hand. We always coax them back with various sweet flavoured things and sometimes soothing sounds.

Busy project teams, heavy loaded work streams, long days, short nights, rubbish coffee + too much sugar often = start-up. Anyone who has worked in a start-up will know it’s an addictive place (and that’s not entirely the result of the caffeine and sugar).

It’s important that we stay true to our organisation values as we build the bank; the things we hold to be important at Atom will be reflected in ‘what’ we build and deliver to our customers.

What does this really mean?

We’re building a bank with a difference for our customers, a bank that will give them a different kind of experience. We’re building an organisation with a difference, an organisation that will give our people a different experience.

So how do you keep a team together, motivated and happy?

Transparency is important to us in the products and services we’re developing and therefore it’s important to us in how we work. Many of our meetings are held out in the open and our meeting notes and minutes are scribbled on the walls. There aren’t many doors in our office; instead there are areas for people to be creative, share great ideas and collaborate out in the open. We don’t have anything to hide and everyone can contribute – how else would we build the best digital bank there is?

That said, you can imagine the Atom office is extremely busy, a little hectic but also fun. We value fun, vibrancy and laughter as key ingredients of a culture that will allow us to build great products and service. We aim to laugh every day and it’s a very bad day if you haven’t cracked a smile (we haven’t had any of these yet). Our games room will help people blow off steam, chill out or get super competitive; our food deliveries to the office keep people energised and the strange activities we get involved in at our Thursday Club keep people intrigued.

Creating opportunities for our people to be themselves, kick back, blow off steam and support each other is as important to us as being the best bank out there. It’s the former in that list that will allow us to build the best bank out there.

Of course, that’s not all … building an organisation with a difference and an organisation culture from scratch involves way more than this, but I can tell you more about that another time.

People want to work hard here at Atom because of their belief in what we are doing for customers. We’re building a bank, we’re changing an industry, but Rome wasn’t built in a day.

When we reach those final hours of the week we’ll crack open a drink and share the pretzels and celebrate getting to Friday, hanging in there, all the hard work, achieving loads, being nice people and remaining calm for another week.

Image Credit: Theis Kofoed Hijorth