Posted 08.24.2015 by Josh Krakauer

What Michael Scott Can Teach the Agency World

10 lessons from The Office for culture-driven creative companies.

After years of habitually playing The Office as background noise while working, eating, and sleeping, a compendium of The Office quotes has firmly rooted itself in my brain. These quotes are mostly inane quips or phrases that work themselves out of my mouth and into conversation, where they are rarely recognized as references. But meditate on anything long enough, and eventually the meaninglessness gives way to something a little more profound. (Relatively speaking, anyway.)

Here are some of the lessons I’ve discovered in The Office, as applied to my life as a designer working for a young creative agency:

Morning Cheer The Office

Morning Cheer The Office
(The Office, S5:E24)

Camaraderie among coworkers matters, especially among small, young companies. Weird, lighthearted things like our Sculpt post-standy-send-off-cheer seem strange from both inside and outside a company, but they work! Even when approached in a begrudging and somewhat ironic fashion. It’s hard to not feel like a team after breaking out of a huddle with a collective, half-hearted cheer. (Note: This may be the biggest hurdle for new team members. We’re all a bit incredulous at first.)

02_AttackReadiness1

Attack Readiness The Office
(The Office, S5:E24)

Trust yourself and your coworkers to know how best to dress themselves for comfort, style, and the day’s required level of professionalism. This goes a long way towards treating everyone in a young company like adults.

03_WorthIt1

Worth It The Office
(The Office, S7:E11)

A critical eye is necessary for all creative endeavors. Stepping back from the minutiae of one solution to look for alternatives is how creative work moves from good to great (and how we move past the bad ideas without losing steam).

Justice Beaver The Office
(The Office, S7:E18)

No one is telling you to listen to Top 40, but it’s generally a good idea to be pop culture-savvy enough to recognize names and understand a reference or two. I won’t name names, but a certain Sculptron recently brought up Nick Jonas’s recent Twitter war with the owner of CrossFit about Coca-Cola and diabetes… But called him “Nick Jonah” by mistake. The Jonah Brothers are now a running bit in our office.

05_BushiestBeaver1

Bushiest Beaver The Office
(The Office, S2:E1)

Proofing is important. Like, really, really, really important. A bad typo will at best derail everything you’re trying to say, and at worst twist your words into something horribly inappropriate and embarrassing for you/your company/your client.

PowerPoint The Office
(The Office, S4:E4)

For real though, being able to present information to customers and coworkers is essential, and you should know how to effectively use the best tools available to you (i.e. not actually PowerPoint).

07_RidiculousFont1

Ridiculous Font The Office
(The Office, S9:E2)

Font choice: Best left to professionals. Typography is a powerful tool. Its use can amplify or subvert your intended message.

Business Bitch The Office
(The Office, S7:E14)

I probably don’t need to tell you this, but personal branding is crazy important in distinguishing yourself from your peers and competitors. Your human story is a commodity, as are Twitter handles and domain names. Figure out your unique brand quickly, before all the good ones are taken.

Sad People The Office
(The Office, S9:E16)

Living or working in close quarters with others, it doesn’t take long to realize that feelings are easily transferred from one person to the other. In a shared office environment, bad vibes spread faster than gossip and germs. Issues need to be resolved quickly and effectively for the sake of everyone in the space.

Good Old Days The Office
(The Office, S9:E23)

We’re living them. Right now. In a startup, every couple months is a new era of company history. It doesn’t take much distance to look back and reminisce about the way things used to be, how much they’ve changed, and all the great memories of “back in the day.” Try to appreciate the beauty of this in the moment.

Hannah Dunn

Hannah runs on bad jokes, podcasts and delicious vegan food. She prefers working in picas and pixels, and cares deeply about the difference between hyphens and dashes.

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