Promoting Personal and Professional Balance: Workplace Culture at CivicActions

This week on one of our weekly pod calls, or smaller, more regional team meetings, the question was posed to the group, “What’s something you would say to or share with a CivicActions newcomer?”

Responses included statements such as:

  • “CivicActions is a place where we can explore our interests, grow professionally, grow personally.”
  • “There is no ceiling here: people are empowered to carve out their own initiatives and work on projects that would typically lie beyond their area of expertise.”
  • “I feel safe in this company and I can always trust my coworkers’ intentions
    [..] it’s not a place where need to be concerned that anyone is out to one-up you, or take credit for your work.”
  • “CivicActions is not cynical. People treat one another with respect, straight-on and openly.”
  • “CivicActions is open to change. It’s open in general. Flexible, responsive, supportive of new directions.”
  • “I feel closer to my co-workers in this distributed environment than I ever felt before in an office environment.”

For me, perhaps the most poignant moment on the call was when I realized what makes CivicActions culture so important to me: the fact that our company recognizes the importance of supporting and nurturing our team members as a holistic human being, and not just a body in a chair who does work for 8 hours a day.

Most workplaces treat emotional distress or family conflicts or physical health problems as the unavoidable nuisances of working with humans. As an employee, we often fear disclosing personal details that might make our managers doubt whether we’re fully capable of being productive, so we hide the fact that we have a massive headache, or that we got little sleep because the baby was ill, or that we had a fight with our partner that morning.

Though many workplaces expect that we separate our personal from our professional lives, CivicActions realizes that it’s ineffective and perhaps impossible to extricate one from the other.

On every call that we have, we give balance scores that provide insight into our well-being. A balance score is a number between 1 and 10, with one being the least balanced and 10 being the most, and it indicates whether an individual feels that their personal, professional, and spiritual priorities are in harmony. If a balance score is low, team members often reach out to one another to provide support and a friendly virtual shoulder to lean on. Support can range from a “Hey, what’s up?”, to an offer of help with a work task, or simply a blanket “Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.”

Management supports maintaining balance: our leave policy is one of take-it-as-you-need-it, which means just that– if a conflict arises or you’re feeling sick or under the weather, you can take the time you need to recover and refocus so that balance is restored. Our work schedule for the day is flexible; as long as we can finish our work and attend any pre-scheduled meetings, we are free to arrange our hours however we choose. We could meet a friend for lunch, take advantage of a sunny afternoon for a long walk, work from a coffee shop, or spend precious hours with families and loved ones and make up the time later.

Our management realizes that in order to produce the quality work that we stand for, you have to be mentally and physically engaged. And in order to sustain that focus, we have to be able to meet our personal priorities and take care of ourselves.

At CivicActions, it’s not just about the bottom line: it’s about promoting happy and balanced individuals that make up a community where everyone feels safe, valued, and enjoys working and learning together.

Do you have thoughts on workplace culture and how companies can foster a supportive, nurturing environment that attracts and retains talent? Leave a comment or reach out on Twitter at @CivicActions.

2017-03-31T06:19:54+00:00 Categories: Balance, Culture|

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About the Author:

Heather joined CivicActions in 2015 as an Engineer, bringing over five years of experience in delivering sustainable, scalable, user-focused and content-driven web solutions for both government and higher education clients. Heather combines her front-end development chops with an extensive background in site planning and building to create user interfaces that are simple, elegant and easy to maintain.

Prior to joining CivicActions, Heather served as a front-end developer, technical architect and project lead at Chief on major website projects such as a bulk publication ordering system using Drupal Commerce and Internationalization for the Federal Trade Commission. Her career in Drupal began at the University of Maryland, where she designed and developed multiple Drupal sites for the A. James Clark School of Engineering, including the University of Maryland’s Division of Research, and pioneered the University of Maryland Drupal Users Group.
Heather loves to shares her passion for creating clean, semantic, and easy-to-maintain markup, and has given multiple talks at venues such as BADCamp and Capital Camp on using Sass, and CSS methodology SMACSS, to write leaner, more efficient code.

When she’s not bending your ear about best practices in web design and development, Heather is most likely to be found reading, planning her next travel adventure, or teaching German to her collie pup, Winston.


What do you do at CivicActions?

I’m an engineer focused primarily on front-end development, content strategy, and user experience. Lately, I’ve been involved in leading CivicActions Labs, serving as practice lead for front-end development and participating on our marketing team.

What tools do you use most often?

  • Slack
  • Google Drive
  • Trello
  • Terminal
  • Git
  • JIRA

What do you love most about CivicActions?

What makes CivicActions unique to other workplaces is the emphasis on work/life balance, and growth both personally and professionally.

See my Promoting Personal and Professional Balance: Workplace Culture at CivicActions blog post for more details.

What do you love about what you do?

I love working Agile! Instead of being handed a mockup to code out at the last minute before the deadline, all team members, including clients, constantly work together to deliver the product in increments.

The transparency, open communication, and rapid delivery make development fun again.