Updated: August 2016
Playground Inc. is many things. It is the space in which we work. It is us, this group of people working here. And it is a vision for how we as individuals can come together as a team to create something unique, something beyond the reach of any one person.
There is nothing accidental about any of this. We are intentional in the work that we do. We are intentional in who we do that work with. And we are intentional in how we do that work.
Our goal here at Playground Inc. is to create a space where we can be our best selves, where we can do our best work and where we can support each other in doing so. We want to nurture an empathetic, collaborative and inclusive office culture. And, with us being so very human, that takes work. Active and sustained work.
This document is intended as a guide. A reference in which to capture our vision of how we work together and a list of tools for how we, day‑to‑day, make that vision a reality. It is both a snapshot of our culture as well as a living document, one that will evolve with us as we grow ourselves, as individuals and as a team.
Sometimes things go wrong. It makes sense to be prepared. If you are reading this and find yourself feeling defensive, slow down and ask yourself why.
We believe in creating lasting value for brands rather than disposable digital marketing. That means we focus on building products, experiences and platforms that have the power to transform a brand and the web.
Quality is a relentless pursuit of craft that we put into every detail of our work. From the elegance of the concept to the precision of its execution, we are uncompromising. Quality is how we ensure that our work creates meaning and value for brands.
We believe that designing innovation takes peers from many disciplines. One must understand the constraints of design, technology and strategy to create an exceptional digital product. That is why we believe in allowing creative collaboration and exploration between these experts rather than mandating project plans to them.
True innovation is often scary and design process tends to attract committees. We are not afraid of the unknown and we do not create committees. We defend great ideas and help people take bold steps that transform their brands and grow their business.
We take pride in our honest approach to doing business. Accomplishing big things takes a lot of trust from our clients, partners and staff, and we work hard to always be straightforward and clear in everything we do.
At Playground crafting the web is not just a job, it’s our life’s work. We do this because we love it and are personally connected to everything we create. That passion and investment is what drives us towards creating truly great products.
We always focus on what matters most to keep projects simple. We have fewer meetings, processes, documents and just about everything else that gets in the way. We build faster through iteration and drive better results.
Crafting products for the web demands more than just beautiful design or innovative technology, it demands a deep understanding of the problem in context and a real solution that impacts people’s lives. We craft platforms for people to connect, products with value, and experiences that delight.
In order to live our values, to be our best selves and to do our best work we need to take the time and make the effort. We are a group of individuals and we are each unique, with different experiences, different perspectives and different needs. What has always worked for one person may have never worked for another. We need to find and practice what works for us.
Everyone deserves to feel good coming into work. Everyone deserves to feel safe, supported and heard.
There are workplaces that practice a ruthless culture. Those workplaces inevitably are dominated by a specific kind of personality. The “best” idea is the loudest idea. The “best” worker is the most aggressive. Our workplace is not that. We recognize that the best idea can come from anyone and that an idea in its infancy can be fragile. We don’t wish to stamp out that idea; we wish to support it and to help it grow. The best worker is the one who raises up their team. Alone, we can get something done. But together we can truly create.
Intentionally or not, we are always communicating. In every word, action, tone, choice of language or whether we say or do anything at all. So let’s be deliberate. Let’s choose communication that is supportive and inclusive. Let’s spend at least as much time listening as we do speaking and let’s be honest in our words.
At the same time, we cannot assume that someone will know where we are coming from if we have not communicated with them. Express yourself and share your needs with others. If someone is expressing themselves to you or asking for something, don’t be dismissive. If you can’t be empathetic or helpful, point them to someone who can.
If you find yourself feeling frustrated or angry at a piece of feedback, take a moment to stop and truly consider what is being said. We are here to do good work and to work well with each other. We can afford to leave our egos at the door.
Some topics of discussion can be highly charged, perhaps more so to certain people over others. This does not mean there is no place for such discussion, but it does mean that you need to be considerate of others in how you have that conversation. If someone wishes to opt out of a conversation, it is on you to accommodate them.
The first rule of Playground Inc. is consent. We have consented to be here to work but that does not mean we have consented to aggression, “jokes” made at our expense, unwanted nicknames or banter, physical contact or anything else we may be uncomfortable with and have not explicitly consented to. If you are unsure whether you have someone’s consent, you need to ask and not assume.
Making jokes within earshot of someone you know (or even think) is upset by them is a violation of consent. Acting as though someone’s gender is other than what they say it is is also a violation of consent. Doing things that people feel shitty about is often a violation of consent. Doing them more than once is even more likely a violation of consent.
If you don’t want to, for example, be involved in a conversation, maybe you can say so, or maybe it’s hard. Maybe you can give some other indication that you don’t want to engage. On the one hand, if it’s hard to say so, maybe Playground Inc. could be a place to practice saying what’s real for you. Saying “no thanks”, etc. On the other hand, if your indications aren’t being heard, and this isn’t a time when you’re interested in being more direct, you can also ask for help from other folks. “They aren’t taking the hint. Will you help?”
The other first rule of Playground Inc. is no shaming. Shaming is hard to define. So we don’t define it, we listen to each other. We work to learn how our behavior affects others. There is never a need to make someone feel bad about themselves. Here are some areas you may get the opportunity to learn about:
Here are some specific, hurtful things that have occurred at workplaces. We do not expect them to occur here at Playground Inc., but it’s important to talk about them so that we are on the same page. We also want to take positive action to prevent them. Just to be sure.
When someone’s hurting, there is a problem. There is no such thing as “overreacting”. There is hurting, and there is empathy.
When something’s happened and someone is hurting, our first choice is to work through it. If an officemate’s actions result in someone feeling unsafe, Playground Inc. will take the situation seriously.
Sometimes, one or both parties are either uninterested or unable to work through the problem. Sometimes, to do so might take more time than we have. To not understand why something is hurtful is okay, as long as you listen, respect and approach it with care and curiosity. Repeating hurtful behavior is not allowed, and that will result in removal from the space.
If, in the view of Playground Inc., someone is not able to follow the office rules, they will be asked to work with Scott, Dave and their manager (if applicable) to try and resolve the issue(s). It will be the responsibility of the person who has broken the rules to take corrective measures. The person(s) that may have been hurt by their actions may choose not to get involved in the resolution process. If the behaviour continues after attempts at resolution, and Playground Inc. deems it necessary, it may result in that person being asked to leave the office within thirty days. If there is a continuation of antagonistic behavior after receiving such notice, we may also need to seek out other options in the interim, whether enforcing remote work or otherwise.
If someone “calls you out”, pause for a moment and take the time to hear the feedback. Listen for their experience, the feelings coming up. Consider how those emotions feel to you; notice what you have in common. Accept that something you did brought those feelings up for that person. That doesn’t mean you decide you are bad, or you were “wrong”—it means that you notice what happened, and accept it. Receive the feedback, and whatever clarifications they’re happy to provide, and then in private, mull them over. Ask friends questions, and decide for yourself what resonates with you and what doesn’t, and what actions you want to take in response.
If you see something that seems off or scary, ask how folks are doing, or approach Scott or Dave for help. We will not blow you off. We will be grateful.
This is a living document and what you are reading is a representation of where we were at the time of writing. Our intention here is for growth and collaboration. If you notice an omission or an opportunity for clarification, please do reach out to Scott or Dave. If something is unclear or you do not understand the importance or relevance of something, again, please do reach out. We are all here to learn and to grow, as individuals and as a team.