Architech Breaks Down A Dynamic Company Culture that Retains Top TalentMore and more companies are growing to appreciate how vital a company culture centred around kindness, togetherness, and empowerment is for building solid and resilient teams. But what does that look like in practice? This week, we’ve enjoyed sitting down with Gaby Douglas, People Operations Specialist at Architech, an innovative company that’s modelling an impactful approach.
Q&A: Architech Breaks Down Company Culture
Thriver: Happy to have you, Gaby. First, we’d love to hear about Architech! Can you tell us about the company briefly?
Gaby: Happy to be here, and sure! To put it simply, Architech is an adaptive team of experts who use technology to solve complex problems. As cloud-native specialists, we leverage modern methods and top talent to transform applications and help clients thrive in the digital age. We have around 100 employees in Toronto, Canada and Kraków, Poland.
Thriver: What comes to mind when you think of Architech’s culture?
Gaby: The first thing that comes to mind is family. We’ve had a lot of amazing, talented people over the past seventeen years, and throughout that time, we’ve all formed friendships that will last a lifetime.
When we do our check-ins with the team, the main item that stands out is the people, the culture, and the socials we host every month. That’s been especially important during the pandemic. While working from home, we’ve done our best to maintain our vibrant, active culture and keep everyone connected. The team feels like a family that cares about your personal and professional growth, provides you with the necessary tools to succeed and celebrates all your accomplishments, like learning a new language, finding a new hobby during COVID, or having your first baby.
One tradition that’s very important to us is our Friday “kudos,” where we celebrate a new individual each week. But it’s more than just celebrating a co-worker; it’s celebrating the person, the work they do, their unique traits, and their one-of-a-kind personality. Over the past seven years that I’ve been at Architech, we’ve had our ups and downs, but we continue to learn from our trials and each other and really care for one another. These are just but a few of the things that make me happy and proud to be part of our “Dream Team” culture.
Thriver: That all sounds amazing. You touched on the pandemic, and we’d love for you to expand on that a bit. It’s been a tough year for everyone all around; how has your team adapted to all the craziness?
Gaby: Absolutely. We emphasize agility on all our projects, so this was no different. And, luckily being in technology, transitioning to working from home wasn’t too difficult. That said, we did struggle for a bit to switch our culture to virtual and had to get quite creative with tools and ideas! We’re a very social, collaborative team, so that was the hardest part. But some areas, like onboarding, were easier to handle since the tools we had in place already translated virtually.
Like most companies, we switched all our socials to virtual because our team values the time to turn work off and just connect with each other. We definitely still miss seeing our team in person but still have our monthly events, morning breakouts, Friday beer o’clock, trivia leagues, book clubs, and tons of other socials. We’ve also incorporated virtual check-ins with the entire team in Canada and Poland, which helps us understand if everyone is comfortable with the changes and if they have any questions or suggestions for our future plans.
We’ve been fortunate to be a team that quickly adapts and supports each other remotely throughout this pandemic.
Thriver: Staying connected very clearly stands out as a central part of Architech’s culture. What are some unique workplace experiences that your company offers to facilitate team building?
We plan our programs every month with new and recurring events usually guided around our “Think Big” themes
Gaby: Where to even begin! To start, we plan our programs every month with new and recurring events usually guided around our “Think Big” themes, which tie back to our values, events, learnings, and charity involvements. Pride month is a perfect example.
For our “Think Big” theme of Celebrating Pride, we have multiple events celebrating the LGBTQ+ community internally and externally. One of the first events is our monthly Mental Health series, and this month, the topic is “LGBTQ+ Mental Health.” Additionally, each quarter, the team organizes our “Summit Days,” two days exclusively booked for learning. We arrange team learning sessions, webinars, lunch and learns, lean-in sessions for the women at Architech, coaching sessions for the managers, and team-specific training.
This June, we’ve organized a company-wide training session with Pride at Work to kick off our Pride month celebrations, teaching us how to be better allies in the community. On top of this, we have our much anticipated Drag Bingo for our monthly social and our recurring breakfast breakouts, trivia league, book club meetings (reading two LGBTQ+ books), and Friday beer o’clock. Those are just a few of the types of team events we organize.
Thriver: It’s always great to see companies that emphasize togetherness, allyship and continuous learning. In general, what do you think are the most critical aspects of Architech’s culture?
Gaby: Those are all incredibly important to us, for sure. Architech’s culture reflects the company as a whole, and our core values guide our team. We believe in Thinking Big, Doing The Right Thing, Being Open and Collaborative, Embracing Change, Growing Our People, and Never Failing a Client. These core values help us communicate with our clients, interact with each other, improve our overall workflow, and make critical decisions. And they hold us to our team purpose, which is to achieve more together. Our team feels that they’re part of a community that listens to them and encourages them to speak out. These core values continue to align everyone with the company’s future and establish a common purpose.
Thriver: It’s certainly not easy creating and implementing a work environment like that. What would you say are some of the biggest challenges?
Gaby: I’d say the toughest part is letting it happen organically and authentically. You have to give your people the right tools to work with, enough space to feel safe being themselves, and opportunities to feel connected with one another. The key is really instilling and modelling core values in day-to-day interactions and work.
Thriver: Very well said, and you certainly can’t go wrong with that approach. Final question: as you may know, Thriver’s currently creating resources to help customers safely transition back into the office. Where is everyone at your company working from right now (i.e. home, hybrid, office)? And if the plan is to return to the office or adopt a hybrid model, what steps will Architech take to prepare your teams?
Gaby: Everyone at Architech is currently working from home. We always put our people’s safety and wellbeing first, so until it’s 100% safe to do otherwise, we will continue to work from home. We’ve run a few internal surveys asking people about their preferences regarding work in the future and have received varied responses. Our goal is to do our best to accommodate everyone, so we’ll let those who wish to work from home continue doing so but also have options for whoever wants a dedicated workspace. We’ve kept our office space at Yonge and Dundas for this purpose.
But, again, it all comes back to agility. Since everything is still up in the air and changes depending on world status and events, we’re staying agile with our return to office plans.
Thriver: Gaby, thanks so much once again for taking the time to give us such valuable insight. All the best to you and Architech!
Resources to Craft Company Cultures that Win
Companies like Architech are a phenomenal example of how compassion, creativity and technology mesh together to create an environment that motivates and connects people. Brainstorming ideas to unify team members, boost wellness, and nurture long-term employee growth? Deep dive into Thriver’s platform to explore rich virtual experiences. You can also work with consulting experts that will help create holistic, made-to-measure solutions for your organization.
If you’re interested in learning more about working with Architech, they’re hiring! Apply here.