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Great workplaces inspire creativity and fun with collaboration

Great Workplaces
Rochester Business Journal
June 27, 2014

The summer months bring a variety of festivals, concerts, sports and music to the Rochester area. Whether checking out the latest band at CMAC, enjoying a Red Wings game or heading out to a festival, Rochesterians are sure to find an enjoyable activity in the warmer months.

Relaxing with family and friends offers valuable time to recharge and renew, providing a refreshing perspective and new ideas to offer when it comes time to return to work. Setting aside time to indulge in hobbies and other fun helps to energize, inspire, and excite employees. Examples abound of the importance of taking time to reflect and renew, bringing insight and innovation to workplace collaborations.

This year, Dixon Schwabl introduced a new workplace benefit called “Rock Your Weekend,” giving employees an extra day to extend a weekend of their choice from Memorial Day to Labor Day using vouchers to “redeem” with approval from their supervisors. What makes “Rock Your Weekend” work is a sense of teamwork and collaboration. To take the time off, employees and their co-workers must communicate and coordinate schedules to ensure their tasks are completed and someone is helping while they are off. It reinforces the importance of constant communication and optimal organization in the workplace, while offering all employees a three-day weekend of their choice.

“Rock Your Weekend” speaks to the prevalence and necessity of collaboration. Collaboration is critical to make any team function well; in the workplace, sports or schools, working together is essential.

The 2014 FIFA World Cup tournament is all about teamwork, enthusiasm and pride. New stars emerge, such as U.S. “substitute” John Brooks and Mexican goalie Guillermo Ochoa, as their efforts are admired and recognized globally overnight.

The U.S. team seemingly faced challenges from day one. At his first news conference of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said, “I think for us now, talking about winning a World Cup is just not realistic.” While he has since backtracked, Klinsmann recognized that history was not on the side of the U.S. team. However, even with the odds stacked against them, the U.S. players opened the World Cup with a victory over Ghana, winning in dramatic fashion with Brooks scoring the game-winning goal. The new “Johnny Futbol” demonstrated the can-do attitude and gutsy play heralded by fans worldwide, his heroics magnified by social media. Twitter Data reported there were 168,139 tweets per minute when Brooks scored.

Indeed, social media sensations dominate the World Cup, with mobile devices reporting the scores and distributing images from the games instantly. Mobile platforms have transformed social media and our communications culture. According to Fast Company magazine, 75 percent of Pinterest traffic alone now comes from mobile platforms. With more than 1 million apps available in the Apple Store, there are more ways to share, research and play than ever before. World Cup fans share their enthusiasm instantly around the globe. During the U.S.-Ghana match, there were 4.9 million tweets. With smartphones and tablets overtaking more traditional desktop platforms, events like the World Cup are destined for huge social media statistics as viewers, spectators and starts tweet and post.

You don’t need to be Johnny Futbol to achieve excellence and appreciate the benefits of collaboration. Great workplaces trust and respect employees to work together for common goals. Identifying the risks and rewards of a project helps to set parameters for the team. Defining roles is important, but leadership often has very little to do with organizational hierarchy. Anyone can be a leader if that person is empowered and trusted and understands the organizational goals and expectations.

Leadership can be temporary—taking on a specific assignment or helping to mentor a co-worker. It does not need to be tied to a title or position. Good leaders understand the strengths and weakness of their team members and are willing to praise and encourage others while also accepting mistakes and making corrections when needed.

Success through collaboration is incredibly rewarding. Celebrating achievements together is fun and develops true camaraderie. One of Dixon Schwabl’s five core values is fun, and it is a line item in our annual budget to ensure we have the funds and resources to always support fun at work!

Whether playing soccer on the world stage or sharing a new idea with co-workers, collaboration is key. Facing enormous pressure and a tough opponent, the U.S. victory thrilled sports fans and helped the team clear a huge hurdle in its first World Cup match. Despite his initial skepticism, the U.S. coach acknowledged that the team had had tremendous growth over the past year and that the World Cup presented “a stage to prove players are ready for the next level.” The match against Ghana achieved the highest overnight television rating ever on ESPN for a men’s World Cup match. It is clear that remarkable achievements take patience, trust, empowerment—and collaboration.

Lauren Dixon is CEO of Dixon Schwabl Inc., a marketing communications firm, which has been honored as a best place to work.

6/27/14 (c) 2014 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email

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