What You Emphasize Is What You Get: 5 Strategies that Define the RTS Labs Work Culture

Business, Startups March 17, 2016

The team at RTS LabsTaking care of business means taking care of employees. It’s what drives the workplace culture at RTS Labs. It must be working, because RTS Labs has been recognized as one of the best places to work in the Richmond, VA region by the Richmond Times-Dispatch and Workplace Dynamics in their Top Workplaces program. RTS Labs was named as a finalist in the small business (124 people or fewer) category. The finalists are chosen based on workplace surveys filled out by the employees themselves.

When we say “taking care of employees”, that doesn’t automatically mean supplying pool tables, nap rooms, slides, and other crazy amenities. There’s no doubt these things can be perks, but it’s not realistic to think every company can go to these extremes – especially small and mid-size companies.

However, there are lots of ways to fuel creativity and maintain work-life balance in a hectic, deadline-driven environment. Jyot Singh, CEO and founder at RTS Labs, believes taking care of employees is the first and only way to keep employees motivated, engaged, and happy.

Jyot explains, “We don’t have a slide in the middle of the office, and we don’t drink beer in the office. We don’t believe in material happiness.”

Instead, the workplace culture at RTS Labs is based on a set of values and principles that help to enrich our company, our people, and our clients.

A cluster of 3 RTS Labs employees in open seating arrangement

Jyot believes very strongly that if you are going to be a good, dependable company, you’ve got to be a good company to your clients, as well as behind closed doors to your employees. Jyot will tell you, “You can’t have one or the other. It has to be both.”

By nurturing the talent and growth of your own employees, you also nurture the values you want them and your company to reflect. When employees feel appreciated and intellectually stimulated, while feeling secure in their job and forming bonds with their colleagues, they produce outstanding results.

“A lot of people may say this, but it’s absolutely true at RTS Labs. The people here are the very source of our success. They work so hard and produce incredible things. I could not be prouder of them,” says Jyot.

In his own words below, Jyot describes the values he says drive the success of RTS Labs and motivates him and his fellow associates every day.

Jyot Singh talks about workplace culture at RTS Labs …

Leading through Learning and Teaching
Constant learning is very important to us. At no point does an employee stop learning. Our less experienced people work under more experienced employees to learn from them. All our people have access to education and training. In fact, there is no shortage of learning opportunities for our employees. We frequently purchase online training courses and send people to seminars and events that will help them hone their skills. We have regular events we call “Lightning Talks” where someone talks about something cool they’ve learned recently.

Learning is not limited to one or two types of coding languages either. We are a technology shop – all technology is a tool for us as software developers. We support learning many things.

One moment that comes to mind is when I had an employee tell me a few weeks ago that something that would have taken them three years to learn at their old job, we were able to teach them in two months. I can’t tell you how happy that makes me. It’s one piece of evidence that what we’re doing, what we believe in, is working.

Dependability
At RTS Labs, we truly depend on each other to complete work for our clients on time and within budget. We depend on each other to succeed with our projects. Our clients depend on what we build to grow and run their businesses. Each individual employee comes to us with his or her own strengths and a willingness to grow even further by teaching and learning from each other. There are no HR managers, no closed doors, and no scheduled office hours. Instead, we are a self-managed and self-motivated team that always looks for new chances to improve our efficiency.

Respect
There is no hierarchy at RTS Labs. We are a flat management organization where everyone takes full responsibility for their day-to-day activities. Respect is very important in our culture, but it is not given with a fancy title. It is earned.

People within our organization elevate themselves through thought leadership, taking initiative, and just getting it done on a daily basis. This is how you earn the respect of your peers.

There’s no space for egos in our office. When we are hiring people, it’s important that new employees match our work culture, no matter how good they look on paper. We believe that when we leave our egos at the door, we open ourselves up to learn from each other. You can always find us walking around the room asking for advice or opinions from other team members.

Communication
RTS Labs employees in a meeting room, window on left, white board on right sideOn any given day, we have a multitude of projects in motion or in planning. Communication is very important. But here’s the thing – meetings kill productivity and communication, so we don’t have them. We thrive in an open office setting where no one is behind a cubicle or a door – not even me as CEO. This keeps everyone accessible and helps make communication easier.

I don’t sit in a room. I sit with the team to get a pulse check very quickly of what’s happening throughout the day.

We also use communication tools like Slack to keep conversations going and information easy to find. Of course, if there’s a problem that needs to be solved, or a brainstorming session that needs to happen, we head to a meeting room to discuss, but there are no standing meetings or office hours at RTS Labs.

Communication is not strictly project related. We take regular fitness walks around the lake in our office park, and during that time, we talk about everything. I also spend time in one-on-one settings and in small group lunches with different team members to check in with people and discuss ideas.

Work as a Team and Play as a Team
Our no booze policy and lack of pool tables doesn’t mean we don’t have fun together. We celebrate holidays, birthdays, and project launches. We work as a team, so we in turn play as a team. We do this through monthly team outings, such as trips to Busch Gardens, team-building activities, lunches, etc.

We also take on pro bono work that we are passionate about. It energizes the team and reinforces the importance of giving back to the community. The SpeakUp5K is one example of a project our team was very proud to work on. The SpeakUp5K works to remove the stigma of depression and encourages teenagers to speak up about it, as well as support each other.

What I’m saying is that because of the open communication and self-motivated culture we’ve created, we are able to work collaboratively, be honest with each other, and as I would say, cut the crap. We’re very upfront about it. As it says on every employment position we post, “We are a hard-working but casual workplace with no crap, few meetings, and a get-it-done philosophy.”

It’s these core values and beliefs that have fostered the collaborative environment we need as a tech company, empowered employees to be self disciplined, and created an environment where we are constantly learning from and building respect for each other. This is the type of company employees are proud to be a part of. It still astonishes me every day, the things we accomplish together.

We emphasize what is meaningful to our clients and to us – and that has led to amazing results for all of us together.