When it reaches 5pm on a Friday afternoon, most people are thinking “beer, wine, weekend” and skipping out of the office. Not at Electric Circus. When the clock strikes five – it’s time to reveal the miniature films stars, sketched bananas, potato album cover art and a myriad other wonderful, inventive creations.
This is the Friday Challenge. A weekly Electric Circus ritual that sees one of the team throw down the gauntlet to the others – to create, do or take part in something just for the fun of it. The challenge is announced on Monday. And everyone has five days to get creative.
Previous challenges have included quizzes; bake offs; going back to gaming basics with an office Pong tournament; adorning bananas with biro artwork. “That one was really satisfying,” says Ben Gross. The team has also re-created scenes from famous movies using Lego and paper cut outs – as well as album covers using humble potatoes.
The Friday Challenge was created purely for fun, but it soon became apparent that it serves another, greater purpose. “It has a resonance with what we do as a business,” says Ben. “It gets everyone thinking differently, thinking creatively.” It’s a good point – slicing and sculpting a Maris Piper to look like the Abbey Road cover certainly takes skill and inventiveness.
“It’s not just taking part in the challenges but, setting them too,” continues Ben. “If you can come up with a challenge and think it through – figure out how to execute it and find a winner – then you’ve got the mental faculties to fit in with the team. It’s the same process as having to create an advert or build a website.”
Much to Ben’s delight, he discovered that the Friday Challenge also cultivates creativity, keeps the team sharp and gives Electric Circus the edge when it comes to delighting clients with inventive ways to engage their audiences.
“It’s about rhythms and rituals too,” say Ben. “Being deliberate about rhythms and rituals is a way to boost creativity and strengthen focus. The Friday Challenge is a ritual that gives a certain rhythm to our week. It’s both familiar and new at the same time, taking us out of our comfort zones with each new challenge.”
There may be a competitive element to it – there’s a leader board and a £20 prize to be scooped at the end of the year – but it’s also a great team building exercise. And one that’s brought everyone together while working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic.
This is something Chris V – a new starter at Electric Circus during lockdown – can attest to. “It’s been great getting to know the people I work with in a slightly more informal way. You don’t normally get to experience that as a remote member of a team. It helps you learn the strengths and weaknesses of those around you – and how terrible your own general knowledge is!”
The Friday Challenge gets the thumbs up from the rest of the team too. “It creates a good culture of friends, rather than just colleagues, which I think is important for the quality of work,” says Jamie Fairhurst. “It brings us closer together and improves our relationships within the team.”
It’s an Electric Circus ritual that’s here to stay – and one that Ben never ceases to amazed and amused by. “I’m always impressed by the effort people put in. I love it because it builds camaraderie and it’s a really nice way of ending the week.”