The other day I visited Twitter’s London head office for the first time. I felt quite curious to see what it was like. I’ve visited hundreds of businesses and organisations and often you don’t need very long to understand what’s the company culture is like. Company culture, you know the fluffy, abstract thing that is hard to grab, but easy to see inside your mind and says a lot about the organisation you visit.
I walked out from the tube at Piccadilly Circus, passed the Whole Foods shop and entered the building, it looked as a typical clean and structured office building. The receptionist kindly showed me where to take the lift, it was one of these lifts where you press the floor you are going to outside the lift – not so human friendly. Of course I got in the wrong lift and went up to the seventh level. Walked out of the lift and pressed level one.
When I exit the lift I see a small happy Twitter bird showing the way to the reception. I walked through one of these big open indoor spaces. I could see all the way up to the glass ceiling, four pieces of modern art welcomed me while I crossed the open area.
‘Hi, I am here to see Andy’
‘Welcome, can you please fill in your details here’.
The next second I see my friend who’s been standing just behind me ‘Hello and welcome to our office’, he said.
We are standing next to a wall full of words, hashtagged expressions and random sentences, it looks as each word and each letter have been carefully moulded by a sculptor.
Andy explains: ‘When we moved in here earlier this year we got the art on the wall commissioned and what you see are tweets from the people who worked here when we moved in.’
How fascinating I though to myself, you move into a new office and there is a trace of your thoughts you have shared online on the wall next to the reception.
We walk over to the other side of the reception and there is even more words and hashtags. One was #TooManyToms, several people named Tom work in the office and someone expressed their frustration with this hashtag.
We turn left and we walk into a big room, they are preparation an event. On the wall I see more art. One of the pieces draw my attention, it’s a heart made of names.
‘It’s the names of the people who worked here when we moved in.’
‘Aha, that’s so cool and welcoming.’
Then we sat down for a coffee and chat, and I even got a branded Twitter T-shirt so I felt part of the crowd.
When I left I couldn’t stop thinking about the symbolic leadership in the art and the values it’s communicating.
Twitter is a communication machine. People share thousands of messages on Twitter every minute. Their mission is: ‘To give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.’
In my short meeting I could see how they expressed their mission in the art in the reception. Getting a mixture of their employees’ thoughts and online randomness on the wall and design an art installation is very smart. Twitter appreciate their staffs’ stories, creativity, ideas and thoughts, that they shared online. People’s tweets converted into a beautiful memory.
The leaders in the Twitter office must know something unique about how to connect and how to make people feel part of something bigger. The office breathed appreciation, connectivity and collaboration in between the walls.
Disclosure: I’m not working for Twitter and the reason I wrote this post is that I am very interested in art and leadership. This is my personal interpretation of the art I saw in the entrance.