Luke Burrows

RC05: The Unorthodox Approach to Creating a Workplace Culture with Danny Matthews

In this episode

I don’t know about you but creating a safe, positive, and happy workplace culture is vitally important. I’ve been in cultures at the opposite end of the scale, as well as many family members and it doesn’t lead to anywhere good. That’s why I’m passionate about this topic, and love it when I meet and get to chat with people like Danny Matthews who are going about creating workplace cultures in a different way – even if it’s seen as unorthodox and/or unconventional.

Danny’s approach to creating a workplace culture is based on sustainability and his “Culture Navigator” blueprint which is a practical guide in building businesses that promote employee well-being, and engagement, and helps the planet.

The “Culture Navigator” blueprint has 12 principles with the core principle being that everyone is accountable for maintaining the culture. I love this because so often we fall into the idea that culture is only to be enforced from the top down. Both the top-down, and the bottom-up approaches have their ups and downs and positives and negatives. This core principle highlights that everyone, no matter of your position within the organisation has a role to play in maintaining the culture, and holds each other accountable starting with themselves.

Another key principle is creating a culture that promotes well-being and engagement. One way the “Culture Navigator” blueprint highlights this is shifting away from the mindset of time judgment. This mindset judges team members based on their hours worked and is the way we have designed society and approach 99% of careers and jobs in the workplace.

The alternative focuses on shifting towards a performance and results-based workplace, not time spent which leads to increased productivity. I believe this is the future because I don’t know about you but I’ve been guilty of going to work, not enjoying the job and ending up spending time scrolling on my phone or doing other things than what I needed to do. And, guess what… I still got paid!

Most of us have been guilty of this. I see receptionists on Facebook, checkout assistants on email, and people scrolling on their phones in the workplace rather than doing what they are most likely meant to be doing. If the workplace was based on performance and results it would help everyone.

Balancing the freedom of remote work with being in the office, as well as the impact of travel with sustainability is a challenge many founders face. I love remote working, and it’s how I tend to do my best work. Sure, we need people and I think companies are to take a more individual approach when it comes to remote working but to sit at either side of the two extremes of either being in the office all of the time or working remotely all of the time is dogmatic and helps no one.

A hybrid approach is probably the best approach. Again, based on the individual. Danny has a good balance within his company because the culture is based on performance and results, not time so he has no issues with remote working because as long as the company and everyone is performing and getting results then they can spend their time pretty much how they like.

Going into the office every day has consequences beyond the individual. The cost and impact of travel on the environment is becoming more of a conversation within society and Danny’s approach to this is encouraging team members to travel responsibly and offset their carbon footprint. Overall, it’s important to be mindful of how you travel and its environmental impact. It’s just another reason to work remotely, but I’m biased 😂

Sustainability is a big part of the “Culture Navigator” blueprint and addresses the environmental impact of constantly upgrading technology, encouraging responsible technology use and refurbishment, and shares practical tips on extending the life of electronic devices. This is the first time I’ve come across a founder, and company that are not only conscious about this issue, but doing something about it.

Sustainability goes beyond climate change and in the context of business is about making changes within a business to ensure long-term viability. Becoming carbon neutral though, can be achieved within just six months like Danny did by taking simple steps to reduce carbon emissions. One way he did this was by being mindful of supply chain sustainability and creating and implementing a supplier code of conduct focused on fair wages and net-zero strategies. He encouraged all suppliers to adopt responsible practices and has been building long-term relationships with suppliers who align with sustainability goals.

Reducing carbon emissions before offsetting them and knowing the difference is vitally important and many companies feel they are doing enough by just offsetting them. This isn’t enough and there are severe limitations of tree-planting as a quick solution. It could be argued that it’s better than nothing, but in order to make greater progress a whole new mindset and approach is needed which is highlighted through Danny’s work and the “Culture Navigator” blueprint.

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