This Saturday is the home opener – or first kick – for Vancouver Whitecaps FC. The club has been promoting season and single-match tickets by encouraging people to “experience the best sporting atmosphere in Vancouver.” There are several examples of how the Whitecaps FC fan experience models great workplace culture. These eight tips will help you build happy and healthy communities at work and probably in your neighbourhood, too!

Have a shared purpose

Our responsibility as fans is to make BC Place a fortress for our team and a pitch where no visiting team wants to play. Your organization’s purpose should achieve a similar purpose. If your team’s goal is to provide the best customer experience in the history of everything then your people should be wholly behind in supporting the systems and processes to achieve that. Here’s what organizational development guru John Coleman has to say about the connection between having a shared purpose and building healthy workplace culture: “Everything in their lives is fixed by an understanding of its relationship to something else. Their artwork, their understanding of time, their place in the world. And that orientation means they’re constantly aware of their surroundings, their direction, their path.”

Cultivate inclusiveness

Bill Simmons calls it “the eye test” and I call it “this blog doesn’t have a research budget” – whatever the case, when I look across the crowd at Whitecaps games I see a pretty awesome cross-section of the Lower Mainland demographics. Many cultures, ages, genders, and body types are represented at Whitecaps FC matches. And companies with awesome culture tend to reflect the communities in which they’re located. According to the Globe and Mail’s Diane Jermyn, companies that celebrate diversity make customers feel more welcomed and allow all employees to bring their best selves to work. For the record, I’ve written about how the Whitecaps are literally world leaders when it comes to fielding a culturally diverse team.

Make space for different styles

Office spaces should maximize peoples’ talents and styles, not cater to the majority (extroverts) or be designed for optimal cost-saving. At Whitecaps games you can be like Kurt’s dad and my dad and sit in your seats, watch the game, and (maybe) stand up when great things happen. Or you can be like Kurt and I and stand in the Curva Collective (on the South Side everybody stands) and sing loudly for two hours. The point is that a workplace should be as flexible as possible so that people can be themselves, harness their strengths, and blend joy and efficiency into their work. Here’s how to design an office that is awesome for both introverts and extroverts.

It’s healthier to stand up

Sitting is the new ‘smoking and standing’ for entire sporting events – like standing at a desk during work – it actually increases energy and productivity. Sophia and Shana from The Greatist argue that Google employees are happier (partly) because they can work at standing desks if they want to.

Enhance collaboration

For the big games especially – typically derby matches – various Capos will coordinate cheers around BC Place. The experience is awesome. From a professional perspective, think of the power and credibility that comes from two senior leaders resource-sharing, building an idea together, and owning the successes (or failures) of a project as a team.  Couple that with an ethic of contribution and you will be able to harness the power of building off each other’s movements and moments to create shared success for employees and customers. Modelling genuinely collaborative behaviour is contagious and inspires people to think differently. This is why so many fans love it when two big cheering sections – The Southsiders and Curva Collective – work together to craft and deliver booming songs during big, important matches.

Embrace co-opetition

At Vancity we’re working together to redefine wealth and build healthy communities that are viable for the long term. And I want to help all of my colleagues notch big wins as we achieve this bold vision together. This is co-opetition, where co-operation and competition intersect and a greater good is achieved. In a Whitecaps context I like to think of co-opetition as it relates to the fans and our club. When the team wins we win, too. And all of the fans – from individuals to the different cheering sections – are trying to outdo our neighbours with louder and more creative cheering that electrifies our community. Unfortunately for Toronto FC, co-opetition only works for Whitecaps FC and their supporters – the Reds, as they often do, will lose.

Wow people with creativity

Kurt and I have been to quite a few games that have yielded some astonishing TIFO displays, which are incredible creative artifacts of Whitecaps FC fan culture. David Burkus lauds creative workplace artifacts as integral pieces of workplace culture: “The Palo Alto office of IDEO famously has an airplane wing jutting out from one wall, a surprising and puzzling artifact if one doesn’t understand IDEO’s culture of playful experimentation and free expression.”

These exhibits of employee and fan expression are inspiring and make people proud to be part of the team. Integrating expressions of creativity into your workplace community is well worth doing if you can manage it. Whatever your artifacts, make them memorable.

Have fun with it!

There is fun to be had everywhere. Especially at work. And especially during sporting events. Think about the people with whom you enjoy working. Are they positive, enthusiastic and full of energy? Or are they gossipy, pessimistic and kinda mean jerks? I thought so. Work doesn’t have to be fun – and a lot of times it isn’t – but when it is, wow, peoples’ productivity goes into overdrive and problems are solved through informal social connections because your workplace has achieved professional fluidity because people actually enjoy being there and talking about it with each other. And if your workplace isn’t fun – or sucks – here are some tips for fixing it.

See you on March 7, friends. It’s going to be fun!

Photo Credit: ausmpott_ via Compfight cc

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