Potato office in Bristol

At a point in the year when many of us take stock and make some attempt at self-improvement, it might be a good time for companies to do the same.

There’s one area especially that, more and more, is viewed as central to a business’s success: company culture.

A new study, co-authored by Dr Eugenio Proto of the University of Warwick, has found that investing in workers’ happiness leads to a rise in productivity, creativity, and overall job satisfaction.

These are not particularly shocking findings, but it’s amazing how many places still fail to really grasp how a supportive, stable, flexible work environment can reap all kinds of benefits.

It’s not for me or anyone else to dictate what other companies should do, but I can talk a bit about how things are here at Potato, and why it works for us.

A developer coding in our Bristol office

The first thing to know is that Potato was born in a pub, so our company culture (we’re mostly all developers) was never going to be very formal.

That being said, the defining feature of Potato’s work culture is freedom. There are no fixed working hours, and no set amount of holiday leave.

There’s the option of getting a paid-for lunch delivered to the office, and snacks and drinks available all day. Cake culture is actively encouraged too.

‘Potatoes’ are free to work from a hammock, take a nap in a snooze pod, break off for a game of pool, or start a Nerf gun battle.

Altogether, this gives us much more control over our commutes, our health and wellbeing, and our family and social lives - all of which underpin our attitudes to our work and output. It’s always a good sign when colleagues like to spend time with each other after downing tools - and we have (occasionally hazy) memories of movie nights, parties and company trips as proof of that.

We have a flat organisational structure, so almost total transparency is a given. Everyone likes to see what’s happening and how things are progressing while working on a project, and the work itself validates that approach.

What, if anything, is there to be learned from our set-up? It’s fairly simple for us: we’re trusted to do our jobs. We wouldn’t be in the company if we didn’t like what we do. The key takeaway is: think about people’s happiness as they work, not just at work.

Oh, and good snacks make the world go round.