Posted 1st April 2011

5 Signs You’re Too Comfortable at Your Job

Let’s face it -  the digital work place can be demanding, tough and exhausting but it can also be exhilarating, inspiring, progressive and a dream job. Over the course of the past few months in this hot digital market, we have talked to a number of folks in the space; people who work in small boutique places, large agencies and fortune 500 companies. We see people that face a couple of daily struggles and frustrations that are ultimately warning signs, and it’s time to do something about it. Here are the aggregated top 5:


1st SIGN: The account director is blocking your creative ideas

Maybe you came up with an awesome and revolutionary idea, but rather than sell it to the client – and explain to them just exactly how it will impact interaction as we know it – you have to go through levels and levels of internal red tape to even get your ideas heard. The account director tells you to “find the balance between and that kitsch poster the client has in their meeting room – oh, and add some more pizzaz!” At this point you have just given up and thrown your work over to the next wheel in the production cycle.

What should you expect?

Each team member should have the opportunity to communicate with the client directly as long as it’s structured and not impulsive. Every person in the project from junior to senior should have the right to attend all the client meetings where suitable. Everyone has a mouth, everyone has a mind, don’t ever be afraid to use it.

Designers, developers and UX designers from Fi together on a call with key decision makers in HTC. Frequent touch points keep everyone technically in the loop but more importantly, emotionally connected to every aspect of the project and the client.



The design team walks Google through design concepts for via Skype screen share. It’s a short project with many sensitive aspects, including not sacrificing details for time. With experience, designers from junior to senior level become aware of a client’s standpoint and how business decisions can impact design. By understanding how a client see’s the project through their business goals, designers can impact the client proactively and avoid the common client/agency headaches. The result: happy client and, equally important: happy designers.

2nd SIGN: You’ve been working on the same dog food client for over a year

You’ve been working on an account for so long that you know all the 328 ingredients by heart as well as the retail price in Oklahoma. You are putting in the minimal amount of effort, are unchallenged, and would love some more responsibility.  Every time you see the commercial or hear the jingle you get panic attacks. You are trying to find opportunities that just don’t exist and even the teddy-bear account the other team is working on is starting to sound fascinating. You’re bored and demotivated.

How should your agency solve this?

People should pick the clients they want to work on; passion is the catalyst for impressive results. Of course it’s helpful if your agency doesn’t just have that one cool Nike account nobody new can work on.


It’s also nice that your client can send you a nice new phone rather than a can of dog food. How about a Redbull fridge to go beside the foosball table instead of a bottle of mouthwash?


It’s important to have a choice of what you would like to work with. The innovation, creativity and sheer progress is dramatically affected by an employee’s passion. Keep employees in the loop of what projects are coming up; if they want to flex their muscles with HTML5 instead of Flash, ensure they know you will present those opportunities to them when on the table.



3rd SIGN: You rarely talk to anyone outside of your department

You don’t know what’s going on outside of your department, and have work handed to you that you don’t even know the origin of. You’re out of the loop and aren’t being invited to meetings. The Powers That Be are making decisions above you and they are piecemealing you the information. What’s the big picture? You have no idea.

How should your agency solve this?

Projects can be big and small, right? So a neat approach is to give folks the option to physically move into a workspace of their choice to generate that team feeling that bonds you emotionally to the group and task. When a new team member is brought in mid-way, KICK OFF properly with that new team-mate. A proper kick off or intro is not a “read these emails”.


A producer, senior designer, technical director, senior developer, and UX designer sitting together working on the same project in the same area. Have the IT department setup easy-to-move work spaces so employees can move around freely and quickly if needed.



4th SIGN: Your values are at odds with the company’s culture

Perhaps your company is hierarchical but what you really want is to influence every aspect of your job. Or maybe they force you to sing Happy Birthday to all the people born in April, because celebrating one birthday at a time is just not cost effective. Or if you come up with ideas that would improve the work environment, they’re never implemented – and just go into a giant black hole.

How should your agency solve this?

Relax together, have fun together! When people have ideas they should be able to make them happen. How do you think wine fika was born?


Sit around the table and taste each other’s recommended wines.



After-work catch-up; a developer, UX lead, and System Architect




5th SIGN: You stopped having fun

When the alarm goes off you hit the snooze button 5 times and dread going to work. Any extra time you have you are browsing Reddit or Wikipedia and in the past year alone you have learned all sorts of things about the mating habits of the blue whale… Your Facebook alerts take priority over emailing back your co-worker and you are actually considering opening a restaurant.

How should your agency solve this?

This is a tough nut to crack for a lot of agencies. Work is work at the end of the day for 99.999999% of the Earth. However we work in a creative environment, we can touch millions of people with our ideas and technical innovations. Passionate and talented folks love challenging projects, solving problems with a team and ensuring their voices and ideas are heard – even if they whisper.


People love working with good people in the work place. Sometimes you don’t get to know everyone so take the team up north, rent a giant log cabin for a snowmobile trip perhaps?



During summer months after a project delivery, celebrate by hitting the water and recharging the batteries. The “work hard/play hard” saying is too often just a saying.

There are some fantastic agencies and projects out there but there are a lot of people perhaps sitting at their desks right now reading this very article, thinking…”hmm maybe it’s time for a change”.

Fi is growing in NYC and Stockholm, and we are now hiring for our new office in San Francisco opening this Spring.