Incent, Inspire, Empower: Practical Situational Leadership with Rosy Rocha

In a recent post for the Small Giants Community blog, Ruby® Founder and CEO, Jill Nelson underlines the value of creating a service-driven culture. “Whatever your line of work, a service-driven culture fosters happy customers and employees, and that translates to increased revenue and business growth,” she notes.

If your business is anything like Ruby, establishing a culture of service is table stakes. We take our service-delivery pretty seriously and we couldn’t offer the unparalleled level of service we’re known for without Incent, Inspire, and Empower®, our unique management philosophy.

Meet Rosy, Ruby’s first bilingual team leader

There is perhaps nothing more daunting in your career than to start a brand-new team from scratch. Not only that, but also to pioneer a first-time service offering and lead your team in meeting company-wide service standards in an entirely different language!

Bilingual Receptionist Cultivator, Rosy Rocha is the intrepid Ruby responsible for creating and maintaining Ruby’s Spanish service delivery. And she’s relied heavily on Incent, Inspire, and Empower to get her there!

“As a manager of a team and Ruby’s bilingual service, the IIE philosophy gives me the opportunity to genuinely practice situational leadership. It helps me know each team member a little better and supports me in keeping them motivated and engaged!”

Incentives in Action

At Ruby, we incent around the things that matter (i.e. the things that help us deliver on our mission and keep us living our core values). How? This question is really all about where we place our time and resources. So, on the most basic level, we are committed to compensating our staff well by offering competitive wages and top benefits.

We also recognize our employees and their accomplishments at every opportunity. And we make sure that these recognitions are directly linked to our mission, vision, and values. A great example of this recognition is Ruby’s Five-at-Five Sabbatical Program, which employees become eligible for after five years of service.

A sentiment to our newest core value, Grow, the program helps Rubys realize a dream they may not otherwise have the chance to realize. Given five weeks and a little seed money, our employees have lived some pretty incredible dreams.

These things are obviously company-wide, so how do you find ways to incent employees at the manger level? Give your leaders the tools to get creative!

Rosy recently found a great way to reach an employee who was struggling with their timeliness. “Using my ‘incent’ tool I promised this receptionist hand-delivered coffee for every two weeks they went without a timeliness incident. This is such a small treat, maybe $4-$5 every two weeks, but it really helps having something to look forward to.”

Bring it home: Think about your business. How do you provide company-wide incentives to keep your employees engaged with your mission? Challenge your leaders to find personal ways to incent their team members!

Inspiring by Example

Hearing about the success of others, or seeing it in action firsthand, keeps employees motivated to strive for their own success. Ruby’s dedicated compliment email inbox, werock, is inspiration central! Every compliment a Ruby receives is recorded and sent in an email to the entire company. These emails are an inspirational reminder of the direct impact our mission of creating personal connections has on the world.

But sometimes, seeing someone else succeed in the moment can bring the biggest inspirational, “ah-ha” moments. Rosy agrees. “When I find that I have a receptionist struggling with guiding callers confidently, I have them observe another person on the team who had that same challenge and is now thriving in their role. This also keeps that model receptionist inspired to be an example of what their newer teammates can strive for.”

Bring it home: Inspiration comes in many forms. Make sure to find the right storytelling or success-sharing avenues for your business and encourage your leaders to inspire by example!

Providing the Tools to Achieve

When you empower your employees to not only have big ideas but provide them with the tools to execute on them, they feel more engaged and you may just find the answer to a question you didn’t even know you had!

Ruby provides each employee with a bank of culture funds each year to make Ruby a better place and create community. The money is theirs and they can use it all at once, piece it out, or join others and contribute it to a bigger project. Employees have used these funds to contribute to Ruby’s culture with fitness equipment, kitchen gadgets, and a host of one-of-a-kind events.

Rosy recently faced a unique challenge to find resources for employees who wanted to improve their Spanish. To help with this challenge, she called on one of her employees with an extensive background as a Spanish interpreter. “I know that using this experience makes her proud and fosters her happiness at work. I empowered this employee to brainstorm a solution to help those wanting to improve their bilingual skills. She now is the proud leader of Ruby’s Spanish Club. Knowing that she is empowered at Ruby to host her meetings in our office, to set her own schedule and style; she’s been able to foster her vision of the Ruby Spanish Club. And innovated a solution to one of my biggest struggles!”

Bring it home: What tools can you provide your employees to help them execute on their big ideas? Faced with a particularly sticky challenge? Think of ways you can involve your employees in the brainstorming process!

This post appears as part of our Incent, Inspire, and Empower series, where we share personal stories from Ruby’s leaders. You can catch last month’s post, Managing Mangers, here.

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Incent, Inspire, Empower: Managing Managers with Desi Vigil

Ruby® Founder and CEO Jill Nelson recently wrote a piece for the Small Giants Community blog sharing how Ruby has built a culture of service over the years. The key to doing the same in your business? Your leadership style.

Incent, Inspire, and Empower® is Ruby Receptionists’ management philosophy. It’s how we create true commitment and ensure each employee is poised to succeed by delivering on our mission to preserve and perpetuate real, meaningful connections in our increasingly technology-focused virtual world.

This philosophy ensures that our employees own their personal service delivery and are encouraged to think outside the box. There’s no idea too big, no risk too daring. Sounds great in theory. What about in practice? Ruby’s employee engagement score from spring of 2017 shows the proof is in the pudding. The results indicated that over 90% of Ruby’s employees were highly engaged and engaged.

So, how do you encourage your leaders to inspire with this mindset?

The Most Crucial Employee Touchpoint

A Gallup study from a few years ago notes that “managers account for at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores across business units.” If you’re unfamiliar with Gallup, they are a research-based consulting company whose bread and butter is measuring trends in employee behavior and attitudes. They also publish the State of the American Workplace report. This crucial manager-employee relationship is the driving force behind Incent, Inspire, Empower.

Management Styles at Ruby Receptionists
Desi Vigil, Ruby Cultivator Coach

“To me, it means encouraging our leaders to go above and beyond regularly for their receptionists because they want to, not because they have to,” says Ruby Cultivator Coach, Desi Vigil. (Cultivator is the title for our receptionist team managers.) “We’ve created a culture here at Ruby where every individual is caring, supportive, and willing to push themselves to think outside the box when it comes to going above and beyond for their team.”

Incenting Around the Stuff that Matters

It all starts with providing your managers a solid foundation to support their own service delivery when it comes to their teams. In the case of incenting employees, Ruby makes sure to incent around the things that really matter to us.

A great example is Ruby’s Core Value in Action Awards. These awards celebrate those Rubys who are living our core values in exceptional ways. Why is this important? Our core values make us who we are. They are what drive us. That’s why we incent our employees with company-wide recognition for truly remarkable examples of our core values in action.

Following this example, our leadership team is empowered to incent their employees, both as a team and on an individual basis. Desi recalls a particular situation where a Cultivator came to her for advice on ways to incent a team member for going the extra mile to work on accuracy goals.

“My Cultivator had great ideas, but they were all around food, treats, gift cards, etc. Those things are great (and necessary at times), but I encouraged them to think of other ways they could incent this individual.”

To Desi’s point, it’s tempting to assume that incentives always include food, money, or other tangible rewards. Yet, some of the most impactful incentives have nothing to do with “stuff.”

Your Turn: What matters most to your company? Provide your leaders with the tools to incent their employees on the things that lead back to your mission, your vision, and your values.

Finding Inspiration

We’ve learned (and the research shows) that employees want to feel a sense of purpose and understand the difference they make. Sharing stories of our success and demonstrating Ruby’s sweeping impact are how we aim to inspire.

On a foundational level, Ruby has several storytelling platforms that we support internally to inspire our employees. From a dedicated email inbox for compliments to an internal blog featuring stories of employee success, storytelling is a huge part of Ruby’s culture.

For Desi, an inspired employee “shares their stories of triumph with their peers and congratulates others on their successes.” This creates a culture where employees build each other up and become their own biggest champions.

Your Turn: Are your leaders modeling the behavior you hope to see in your employees? Encourage your team to lead by example and find ways to share the stories of employees who are getting it right.

Empowered to Forge Your Own Path

Empowering your employees is all about getting out of the way and letting them work their magic. At Ruby, we use well-made processes to create reliability, efficiency, consistency, scalability, and accountability. These foundations are the nuts and bolts that keep the company running smoothly.

But Ruby wouldn’t be Ruby without our amazing people! Empowering our people to break the rules and use their unique personalities and talents to deliver on our mission is what sets us apart.

Desi’s job is to empower our leaders to empower their team members, encouraging them to find unique ways to deliver on our mission. At the end of the day, it’s all about trust. Empowered employees feel trusted to make decisions and are given the tools and resources to execute. These tools include everything from the technology they use to our feedback processes.

A little trust goes a long way! The last thing you want to do is constrict your staff with policies, procedures, and scripts they must follow. Take a step back, empower your employees to succeed, and encourage them to make their own mark on your company’s culture.

Your Turn: At Ruby, we use systems and standards to create a foundation that incents, inspires, and empowers Ruby employees to use their own personalities to live out our mission. What will you do next to improve your own management style?

This post appears as part of our Incent, Inspire, Empower series, where we share personal stories from Ruby’s leaders.

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Improve Productivity with the Happiness Journal Challenge

See How Happiness Boosts Productivity!

At Ruby, we’ve built a culture around fostering happiness and one of our tools for success is the Ruby Happiness Journal Challenge. This easy challenge takes just five minutes a day for 21 days, and it can make all the difference in a company’s happiness, productivity, and accuracy.

It isn’t just about happiness—though happiness is certainly important. It’s also about building a company that has the capacity to grow while keeping perspective, having gratitude, and focusing on what keeps us sharp day to day.

This year we’re taking on the challenge as part of our dedication to workplace wellness, or as we like to put it, Swellness.


The term Swellness may or may not sound familiar. Last year Ruby redefined the concept of sick time, focusing more on the goal and less on the problem. After all, you don’t stay home to remain sick, you’re taking the rest you need to become well!

Thinking about that process of going from “sick” to “well”, we landed on the word, “Swell”. This year, we took Swellness to a whole new level. Instead of focusing a single month on wellness, we’re bringing the Swellness all year long. In 2017 Hello Swellness is an entire year of whole-Ruby wellness from top-to-bottom, front-to-back, inside and out. Each month we’re zooming-in on a single aspect of wellness—from nutrition to physical activity to, you guessed it, happiness.

The Ruby Happiness Journal

All the way back in 2011 Shawn Achor did a Ted Talk titled The Happy Secret to Better Work. In his presentation, he revealed that happiness has a huge impact on productivity and accuracy. This is our 6th year taking on the Ruby Happiness Journal Challenge, and every year we’ve seen it make an impact on happiness and productivity! Happy people are just better team members.



In fact, his research credits small, daily positive habits—like writing down three gratitudes, journaling, exercising and meditating—with actually rewiring our brains to scan for the positive before the negative. And practicing these positive acts for 21 days makes them a habit.

All it takes is 21 days of positivity to brighten your perspective, improve productivity, and boost accuracy.

Still not sold on the importance of happiness?

You’re busy doing the work it takes to grow your business. It might seem like there isn’t time to set aside for journaling or meditation.

But what if we said the Ruby Happiness Journal will help you grow your business?

Achor’s research suggests that these moments do more than just boost overall happiness. In fact, happy people are:

  • 37% better at sales
  • 31% more productive
  • 19% more accurate

So happy people aren’t just happier, they’re more productive.

Join the happiness movement!

Interested in taking the on the challenge for yourself and your team? Participating only takes a few moments a day! Every day for 21 days, record these three things in your Happiness Journal (or notebook, or online blog).

  • Three things you’re grateful for that day
  • A positive gratitude action for the day
  • Your favorite positive experience from the past 24 hours
  • Optional: exercise for at least 10 minutes and spend at least two minutes in meditation

Grab your favorite notebook, blog, dry-erase board, or napkin and get writing. Then, let us know if you see a difference in your productivity and positivity!

Tweet us @callruby to share your experience!

We’re looking for a few happy people to join our team! Check out our open receptionist positions to see if you’re a good fit!

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Customer Love, The Ruby Way

What does customer love mean to you?

On Valentine’s Day, Ruby Founder and CEO Jill Nelson was the speaker at an AMA PDX luncheon. Her topic: love—specifically customer love.

If you look up the definition of love, you’ll find something along the lines of “an intense feeling of deep affection,” synonymous with fondness, tenderness, warmth, and attachment.

That’s a great definition. When you strip away all the excess connotations, love is an important goal for many businesses like Ruby: showing customers the love with a great product, service, and brand.

At Ruby, our mission is to preserve and perpetuate real, meaningful connections in an increasingly technology-focused, virtual world.

What does that come down to? Real. Meaningful. Warm. Love.

Here are just a few of the ways Ruby works to show and share our customer love!

Structure: The Ruby Service Pyramid

Ruby Service Pyramid

It’s the Ruby Service Pyramid that has empowered us to build the scalable service-minded culture that we have today. Only once we’ve built the foundation, put the processes in place, and trained the right people, can we blow our customers away.

Consistency is key when it comes to customer love, and with the Ruby Service Pyramid, we create consistent experiences from the bottom up. To make meaningful connections with our customers, first we have to build the right infrastructure. Then we have to commit ourselves to meeting our promises, fostering happiness (inside and outside of our company), creating experiences, and anticipating the unexpressed needs of our customers.

The Ruby Service Pyramid

Theme: In Our Customer’s Shoes

Our theme for 2017 is “In Our Customer’s Shoes,” which aims to answer the question, “how well do you know your customers?”

You can’t love what you don’t know. While we’ve always gotten to know our customers on a one-on-one basis—one of the great perks of being a remote receptionist company—we’re striving to spend 2017 getting to know our customers better than ever.

With customers from a variety of industries—including legal, construction, marketing, real estate, and more—we recognize and embrace the need to understand the nuances of our different customers, and their differing needs.

The more we understand our customers, the better we’re able to WOW them.

“In Our Customer’s Shoes.”

Process: Grow

core-values-growGrow is one of Ruby’s five core values, and we work to achieve it externally and internally by helping our customers grow, and fostering our employees’ growth.

Fostering employee growth means empowering them. Instead of managers, we have cultivators. A bad week doesn’t mean punishment. Instead, it’s an opportunity for improvement. Happy employees mean happy customers, and we try to have the happiest employees around!

We also empower our employees with the ability to send WOW gifts at their own discretion. By giving them the power to do whatever they need to do to make someone’s day, they have the opportunity to connect with our customers directly. It makes that connection meaningful, personal, and memorable—for both our customers and our employees.

When our employees grow, we grow, enabling us to better help our customer’s businesses grow.

Our Core Values

Goal: The Concept of WOW

core-values-practice-wowismAt Ruby, we’re not just about answering your phones; we’re about making your day.

And that’s exactly what WOWism is. Practice WOWism is one of our core values, and it’s the act of blowing our customers away. We don’t strive for fine, acceptable, or alright—we strive for surprised, delighted, WOWed. And what else is WOWism but Ruby’s way of showing our customers we appreciate them?


Customer love is a movement. It’s a culture. And maybe, in the end, Ruby’s mission really is all about spreading the love.

What Office Type Are You?

What office type is right for you?

The first step to WOWing your customers is enabling your employees to be a positive and effective force. You and your team spend approximately 40 hours every week in your workspace, and that space (whether physical or virtual) has a significant impact on productivity and happiness.

The Classic—Brick and Mortar Office

As long as there have been businesses, there have been brick and mortar offices. It’s the home space, full of cubicles, desks, conference rooms, and coworkers.

Benefits of a Brick and Mortar Office

  • A professional space. Having a traditional office space ensures you always have a professional place to bring clients, have meetings, and work with employees. You can even use your office space to develop your brand personality and create community with your clients. If meeting clients in person is vital to customer service success, you might need a traditional office space.
  • Collaboration. An office location gives you the advantage of having a physical place for employees to meet and collaborate on ideas.
  • Complete control over the office environment. When you have a physical space, you have full control over your office environment. All employees have access to the same tools and resources. You’re also better able to mold your company culture and ensure your output is always high quality.

Challenges of a Brick and Mortar Office

  • It’s expensive. Capital is a common problem small businesses face, and rent isn’t cheap. Paying rent as well as buying supplies, furniture, and equipment can add up to a hefty price tag.
  • Commute and location can cause you to miss out on talent. Whatever your office location, your talent pool is comprised of area residents. Where virtual or home offices can allow you to hire people from around the country or world, a physical location often limits you to those who are able to commute to the office.
  • You have to commit to a lease. Unfortunately, renting an office space is a commitment. It can be difficult to project the size of the space you’ll need, and growing out of it can mean additional costs if you have to break a lease and find a new space.

The One-Man Show—Home Office

If you’re just starting out, a home office might be the best choice for you, as it can be an effective way to balance costs, efficiency, and capabilities.

Benefits of a Home Office

  • Schedule flexibility. If you need to get your kids to school by 8:30 am, you can get up, work for an hour, then take your turn on the carpool schedule. When you don’t have a commute, you get to enjoy increased flexibility and the ability to schedule your day around your needs and the needs of your clients.
  • Tax benefits and cost saving. If you qualify, you can deduct a portion of your home’s expenses against your business income. A home office also has the distinct advantage of lowering startup costs by eliminating office rent.
  • Your work is always available. If you get a call at 8:00 pm and you need data from your work computer, it’s always near. Have international clients? Do customer service right and make that client call at 5:30 am. Your work is never far away.

Challenges of a Home Office

  • Limited hiring capabilities. While a home office may be perfect for the sole practitioner, it can be hard to hire employees. You may be able to fit one, maybe two, employees in your home, but you lose privacy as a result. As you grow, you’ll likely have to find a new location.
  • Lack of “professional space” to take clients. Meeting with clients can be hard when you work out of a private residence. Do you have space set aside for client meetings? Can your appointments be done in shared spaces, like coffee shops?
  • Lack of boundaries and inability to leave. Burnout is the worst. When you work at home, you’re home all the time. You live at home, work at home, and sleep at home. This seclusion can cause undue stress and anxiety. Can you rest during your off hours knowing you have an unfinished project one door down?

The Incubator—Coworking Office

Freelancers, contractors, and startups are flocking to coworking office spaces. Essentially a big, flexible shared space that is occupied by a variety of employers and industries, a coworking space can be great for folks who are energized by people.

Benefits of a Coworking Space

  • Lower Costs. With a coworking space, you have the advantage of having access to the tools and resources you need at a much lower price. You also avoid paying rent on an office or getting roped into a lease.
  • Collaboration and networking. There’s something powerful about being surrounded by smart, creative people. In a coworking space, you get the opportunity to network with other entrepreneurs and freelancers, reach out to them for advice, and learn from them.
  • Community. When you put a bunch of smart people together, a community develops. Natural camaraderie builds a sense of identity within a community of smart, like-minded people.

Challenges of a Coworking Space

  • Distractions. Distractions are everywhere. The community and networking that can be such a benefit can also distract you from tackling the tasks on your plate. This kind of environment isn’t for the easily sidetracked.
  • Cost. Coworking spaces are much less costly than renting an office but more expensive than working from home. If you’re just getting off the ground, $300-$500 a month may be outside your budget.
  • Noise. When you put a lot of people in one space, things can get loud. While coworking spaces can be great for collaboration, they might not be the best strategy for making phone calls. If you need to focus, you’ll probably need your headphones.

The Traveler—Virtual Office

Maybe you don’t need an office at all. Maybe you travel, have virtual clients, and don’t need traditional office supplies. A virtual office space is essentially no office space. It’s the ability to work completely from wherever your computer is. With telecommunication tools, cloud storage solutions, outsourcing capabilities (like maybe a receptionist?), and conferencing technology, physical location doesn’t have to hold you back anymore.

Benefits of a Virtual Office

  • Cost. Your overhead is just a fraction of what it would be anywhere else. You aren’t paying rent, buying supplies, and paying for phone lines. You get all the capability for less.
  • Limited management. You aren’t managing a space. You don’t have to worry about doing dishes, getting a cleaning service in, and having building security.
  • Work from anywhere. With virtual office spaces, you take your office with you. You can essentially work from anywhere and customize your workspace no matter where you are.

Challenges of Virtual Offices

  • Lack of physical space comes with its own difficulties. As with a home office, the lack of physical location can make client meetings more difficult.
  • Distractions abound. There are distractions everywhere you go, and the virtual office can have a lot of these same problems. If you’re working from home, while traveling, or in coffee shops, there are plenty of distractions.
  • Communication. In a physical location, you can turn to your coworker to address a problem. When you’re working in a virtual space, communications can lag, and there is more room for miscommunication.

So, Which Office Type Are You?

If you want to foster happiness in your workplace, it’s important to make sure you have the right infrastructure. It all depends on your needs. Are you launching a small business? Leading a growing law practice? Venturing into the world a freelance web design? Each business, culture, and work style is going to require a different space to thrive.

Thing to Consider When Choosing a Workspace

  • Size of your team
  • Nature of your business—do you need to meet clients in person
  • Company/team culture
  • Capital
  • Preferences and lifestyle

4 Tips for Creating Community During the Holidays

Creating Community During the Holidays

The holiday season is well upon us! Doesn’t it always seem like it sneaks up out of nowhere? This time of year brings equal measure joy and stress, so with that in mind we’ve compiled a handful of tips to help you foster happiness and create community through the New Year!

Continue reading “4 Tips for Creating Community During the Holidays”

6 Tips For Preserving Your Creative Edge

Tips for Staying Creative in the Workplace

As children, creativity was not only encouraged—it was embedded in our day. Between recess, art projects, band practice and after-school activities, our creative minds had plenty of opportunities to run wild.

As adults, however, we’re often responsible for making our own time to flex our creative muscles, despite its importance to our productivity. A study on the Global Creativity Gap conducted by Adobe found 80% of employees believe creativity is critical to economic growth, yet nearly the same percentage said they feel pressured to be more productive than creative at work. Research has shown not having the time to spend on creative projects slows down problem-solving skills, innovative thinking, and results in an overall feeling of disengagement.

Creativity is a muscle with a fickle memory. Without being exercised often, it can forget how to complete a task that requires that kind of cognitive process. Whether you’re the owner of a business or an employee, it’s critical you take a proactive approach in order to maintain your creative edge.

Consider how you spend your time.

Status updates, tweets, and Internet rabbit holes will take hours out of your week. If you’re confident incoming text messages or phone calls can wait, turn off your phone. While it’s satisfying to see those real-time notifications, they’re working against you. Multitasking not only takes a toll on your energy, it increased the likelihood you’ll make a mistake. Not convinced? Try this simple exercise from Psychology Today to see the impact multitasking has on your time.

Instead of spending any downtime checking your notifications, dedicate that time to activities that will get the gears turning. Indulge in an art blog or personal essay, listen to music that inspires you, or simply allow yourself to brainstorm and daydream. If you’re the boss, consider building this time into your employee’s work day. For example, Google attributes many of their innovative projects to their 20 percent time policy, which encourages employees to spend a certain amount of their time at week working on outside projects.

Be adventurous.

A fear of failure keeps you from trying something new, like attacking a task from a different angle. The trick is to acknowledge failure is a possibility—and accept that’s okay. Then, use your resources to set yourself up for the best results. Collaborate with colleagues whose feedback you trust, and share your progress with them. Challenge your ideas by seeking out varying perspectives. You’ll either feel more confident about your path, or spot red flags while there’s still time to change direction.

Don’t dismiss your curiosity.

Instead of shrugging off something you that sparks your interest because you’re worried about time or relevance, give yourself time to investigate. A little obsession here and there can be an excellent source of inspiration—so get as much out of it as you can! Seeking out creative stimuli, even if it’s not relevant to your current projects, will change the way your brain processes information.

If the muses call, answer!

You may not have time to drop everything and create a modern masterpiece, but jotting down a few notes to refer back to will help you preserve the spark. Prepare yourself for any possible light bulb moments—save notes and voice recordings on your phone and always have a backup notebook handy. Whenever you have some time to delve further into your idea, follow through. It may take some patience and discipline to work your way back into that head space, but the longer you wait, the less likely it will be that you revisit the idea.

Breaking down deadlines into smaller goals.

Working on a project that relies heavily on your inspiration and creativity can really put on the pressure. Setting an expectation each day that is reasonable will diffuse any creativity-killing stress. Start by making a list of all of the individual tasks that are required to finish a project, then put those in the order you would normally complete them. Think about how much time each of those things take using past projects for reference, but also be generous with your estimation. Finally, map out your timeline in a way that will keep you on track. Outlook reminders, checklists, or actual timeline diagrams are all great tools to use for this purpose.

Remind yourself of your successes.

Keep a log of all of the creative projects you’ve completed, no matter how small. Add notes you think will be helpful in the future, such as sharing any struggles, your process, the timeline you used, etc. This can be especially helpful when you hit a slump. Use it to squelch your inner naysayer!

A structured work environment combined with a repetitive work load can do a number on your creative spirit, so it’s up to you to keep it alive. Manipulating your time and your environment is key to making it happen. Now close your browser and let your imagination run wild!


Making the (Office) World Go Round: The Office Champion

champion cup

I follow the same routine each morning when I arrive at the Ruby office. I unload my bike bag at my desk, connect my laptop to my external screen, and then head to the break room for my morning tea. My tea options are beautifully displayed (and easily accessible) via a countertop wire rack. Ruby-branded coffee mugs are stocked right above the coffee machine (handles all facing the same way). Plus, every Tuesday, there is some treat to add a spring to my step. The whole process takes me less than three minutes—which is exactly what Ruby’s Office Champions are hoping for.

Christian Cartwright
Christian Cartwright
Claire LaRocca
Claire LaRocca

Offices are comprised of hundreds of moving parts, no matter if you’re 10 employees or 100. Like a well-oiled machine, these parts must work together to keep business moving, and employees happy and focused. Even a small interruption, like a lack of paper in the copy room, can result in dramatic loses in productivity. No one takes this responsibility more seriously than Christian Cartwright and Claire La Rocca, Ruby’s two office champions. I recently interviewed Christian, who works out of the Portland office, about the importance of office champions (or managers) in creating community and fostering happiness.

What is an office champion/manager?

On a basic level, an office champion is the person who manages the office as a facility—coordinating with building management on repairs, managing installations of office equipment—essentially handling the structural part of what you need to make an office run.

On a deeper level, however, an office champion should be the touchstone of the values the company embodies—an internal customer service if you will. The way Rubys treat their clients is how I treat our employees, which reinforces that behavior for our receptionists.

Can you give me an example?

One of our receptionist managers came by and asked if we stocked cough drops in the medicine cabinet, which we didn’t at the time. One of her receptionists had a scratchy throat, so she was hoping to do something to make her feel better. I could have responded, “Oh, no cough drops. Hope she feels better!” and left it there. However, that would not be practicing Ruby’s values. Instead, I told her I would run downstairs and buy cough drops, so she could go back to work. I also let her know going forward, I would make sure cough drops were stocked for everybody. After purchasing the drops, I delivered them to the receptionist’s desk with a get well card. That’s practicing WOWism, which is exactly what we do for our clients. It creates a cascade effect that impacts how that receptionist works, how he or she feels, and it becomes a story that gets passed along.

What characteristics or personality traits should an office champion possess?

The most important is to be attentive to detail and there are two different types. First, you’re managing a group of people’s work life, so much of your focus is on making sure you’re prepared with the right infrastructure. If there’s no paper, employees can’t print things. If there’s no markers, they can’t do a presentation. Those details are very basic, but very important. This also means being an ambassador for the brand. Here at Ruby we have a specific aesthetic and way of doing things. Cleanliness is key! We have guests in all the time, so everything needs to kept at a certain standard, the goal being to impress employees and those who come to visit us.

The second type is being attentive to people’s needs. The role of office champion is a service position, so you need to know what people need even before they know it themselves. For example, you’ll see me bring water around to our receptionists because I know they talk all day. It really takes it up a notch. I mean, how many places have someone bring you something other than work to your desk?

Additionally, office champions need to be comfortable working independently and managing their time. While I have a mental checklist of my typical tasks to complete each day, I could work as much as I want to. I’ve had to learn how to manage my own time, or else I’d burn myself out.

Lastly, maintaining a positive attitude is extraordinarily important. The office champion is a high contact position, seen more than any other team member. If you’re having a bad day, that negative attitude will permeate through the office.

What does a typical day look like for you?

My day is comprised of many little, teeny touch points that individually are truly mundane, but in the aggregate are critical.

  • Arrive between 7:30-8:30 am and log into my computer.
  • Head to the break room. Make sure everything is tidy and we have enough basic stuff (e.g. tea, sugar, honey, coffee stirrers, etc).
  • Go through and check all the conference rooms to be sure they’re stocked for the day’s meetings—markers, pens, paper.
  • Check business center, refill items from my overstock, and make note of anything that needs to be ordered.
  • Check fitness room to make sure it has water and cups.
  • Quick trip to stock room to make sure there aren’t any hidden disasters.
  • Come through and check the kitchen again. An hour has gone by since I started my round, so I like to make sure everything looks alright.
  • Pop over to my boss’ desk and ask her if she needs anything, followed by a run down to the store to buy odds and ends.

Office champion has been here

What sort of tools are essential to your role?

Well, you need to have actual tools—a hammer, screwdriver, things of that nature. More importantly, you need to have savvy regarding shopping. Offices consume lots of stuff and being able to comparison shop will save your business money.

What does success look like for you?

Success is hearing about an issue, addressing it upfront and hopefully not hearing anything carried over to the next day. If I’m able to take care of all the people related needs over the course of one day, then I feel like I’ve done a really good job.

What would you say is the biggest difference between managing a 10 person office versus Ruby’s 200+?

I don’t believe the office champion role would be easier with less people, just smaller units of everything I’ve described. At a smaller company, however, I imagine that person wouldn’t just be running the office, but have different tiers of duties. The larger the company, the more pure the office champion becomes, to what I think of as the definition of an office manager.

What should a company look for when hiring an office champion?

I think you need someone who is aware of the impact the role is capable of making, and interested in making the biggest impact they can. This person should think in terms of making people feel acknowledged and special. This would come across as someone who is empathetic, attentive, and willing to be as helpful as possible—someone that exudes a desire to help and serve.

Any parting thoughts?

I’ve worked at a lot of places and had a rather wide variety of jobs. This is the first time in all of my years of working I can say I now understand what people meant when they said “I love my job and wake up every morning excited to go to work.

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