In a large, modern open-plan office nestling in Stoneridge’s commercial heart lies a company that focuses on creating a welcoming and warm office environment, where the collegiality of the workplace is placed at the forefront of the company’s modus operandi.
Infinity Brands is a franchising business with two franchisees – ACDC Express (a supermarket-styled electrical supplies retail store) and Sunburst Electric (an electrical contracting service that caters to both the residential and commercial market). With a strong customer focus, the business’s success lies in the cohesion of their team of 40 members; the backbone of business’ operations.
The core creative team consists of Phenyo Kgaffe (Senior Graphic Designer), Tinyiko Sikhosana (Senior Videographer), Thiya Matsebula (Marketing Manager), Jennifer Whale (General Manager for ADCD Express), Nicolette Boucher (General Manager: Sunburst Electric) and Refiloe Mokoena (Traffic Manager). Each of these individuals can be found clustered amongst the rest of their team, functioning as the very epicentre of creativity in order to foster and reinforce a sense of unity and cohesion.
The company’s weekly meetings (conducted in one of their three boardrooms) enforce the open-communication ethos by initiating the meeting with a recitation of the company values (“Respect, Integrity, Customer Focus, Having fun in the process”), and giving the team a chance to air out any concerns. After this, the team members each have an opportunity to whiffle. This process is described as an opportunity to vent if needed, and serves to encourage team members to clear the air, thereby ensuring that any animosity or tension is nipped in the bud. Techniques such as these have become common occurrences in today’s business practices, promoting clear and open communication in a constructive manner and non-judgemental environment.
In addition to this, the company also encourages its employees to make use of the loft balcony, which features a bar and fully-equipped kitchen amenities, as well as a spacious seating area for the weekly Friday after-hours drinks social. Once a month, the company engages in in-office team-building exercises. Board games such as 30-Seconds, Cards Against Humanity, and Settlers of Catan are enjoyed, creating a sense of unity and camaraderie, and much fun ensues as the sun sets in Joburg’s East Rand. Furthermore, every quarter the entire team ventures into the great outdoors as a means of nurturing team spirit in a different, out-of-office environment. These excursions often include office sports days, according to Jennifer: “last time we had a netball day.” It has been demonstrated that encouraging employees to function as a cohesive unit outside of their comfort zones fosters innovative problem-solving and strengthens existing bonds.
The spirit of solidarity within the company is further enhanced through its core values, which reinforces the mindset of unconditional support of fellow team members. When asked to elaborate on this ethos, an example of a team member who wanted to give back to the community by becoming involved in social outreach programmes was cited. The idea was raised to provide reusable and recyclable feminine hygiene products to impoverished young girls, and this concept was then marketed to the ACDC Express stores. As a result of this initiative, the stores will be contributing a share of their sales to the realisation of the venture. The team immediately stepped right in and wholeheartedly immersed themselves in the project. “We learnt a lot,” says Jennifer, “even if it made the men squirm,” she smiles. It’s clear that there is a lot of pride in the way the troops rallied alongside their compatriot, and the culmination of this endeavour has been a resounding success.
According to a 2016 article written by Brian Scudamore appearing on the Forbes website, team-building “builds trust, mitigates conflict, encourages communication, and increases collaboration. Effective team building means more engaged employees, which is good for company culture and boosting the bottom line.” While many have viewed team-building as a waste of time and finances, Scudamore avers that “[t]rying new things with your staff can generate good vibes among employees, which in turn benefits the business itself.”
With emphasis on increased productivity, profitability and strict adherence to looming deadlines, it’s easy to understand why funding and manpower resources relegated to extraneous exercises like team-building may be perceived as an unnecessary drain on precious office hours. Such a view, however, would be dismissive of the benefits associated with team-building exercises.
Research has indicated that team-building promotes networking and boosts team performance, thereby increasing profitability as a result. When an individual feels that s/he is a valued, contributing member of a cohesive team, s/he experiences a greater degree of work satisfaction and reduced stress levels. This is clearly evidenced by the close-knit environment apparent on the Infinity Brands floor.
The employees are young, close-knit, dynamic, diverse and unified in their pursuit of delivering excellent customer service. Any visit to the premises is sure to reveal team members both individually and collectively immersed in the tasks at hand. Built around an ethos like this, it should be no surprise that Infinity Brands is poised to tackle any situation thrown at it in the franchising market space, and emerge victorious.