Inside Hokodo

Building, maintaining and scaling culture at Hokodo

Darren Bates-Hirst
Head of People and Culture

Many businesses mention the importance of a “good” company culture, but only a few truly live, breathe and prioritise it. What sets Hokodo apart is that our founders genuinely believe that a good culture is essential for the success of our business. When we bring new Hokodians on board, we not only assess their technical capabilities but also make sure they are the right culture fit. At Hokodo, our core values are brought to life daily and it is vital all Hokododians can personally connect with these values. It is about being kind and empathetic; the type of people who will stop and ask how your day is going rather than stepping over you to meet a deadline.

Hokodo is a place you can be your true self

One of the many magic ingredients to aid this is an abundance of psychological safety. It doesn’t matter who you are at Hokodo, your level of seniority, what your role is or how long you’ve been at the company: everybody has a voice. Whether that is to share your concerns, ask for help and advice, or challenge something that doesn’t look right, everyone is able to do that without fear of being shut down or feeling you’ve asked something of little importance.

If you have leaders in a business who are not supportive and won’t allow you to be your true self, then this creates a very fearful and unhealthy culture. The psychological safety we’ve created at Hokodo helps us to build and maintain a positive culture as we  scale.

Nurturing neurodiversity

Having that safe space for people to feel like they can be their true selves also helps support neurodiversity in the workplace. This is something that is important to me, having been diagnosed with ADHD. I’ve worked at organisations where there was zero psychological safety and every day coming to work was like navigating the Crystal Maze, worrying about doing the right thing and asking the right questions without being penalised.

Hokodo recognises the challenges neurodivergent employees face and takes steps to ensure we can be our true selves at work. The company also fosters an environment where people feel comfortable to share without judgement, which can help others understand what it means to be neurodivergent.

In order for everyone to effectively support their neurodivergent employees, it is crucial that we acknowledge and appreciate the various ways in which we interact and learn. For instance, there are three distinct learning styles: auditory, visual, and kinesthetic (hands-on). Personally, I strongly identify with the kinesthetic style, as I prefer to learn through hands-on activities. If I am given a thick, heavy book (like War and Peace) to learn a new subject or topic, it will not be effective for me. It is important to recognize that there are different approaches to learning and that a one-size-fits-all approach is not suitable.

Culture champions

As Hokodo grows, maintaining our uniquely awesome culture is paramount. I've witnessed the potential consequences when an organisation grows too quickly in a competitive market, which can sometimes result (though not always) in damaging the company culture. Our founders understand this as well. However, preserving our culture as we scale the business poses a challenge. That is why I have been appointed as the Head of People. Alongside all my fellow Hokodians, we collectively act as "guardians" of our culture.

At Hokodo, we have numerous programs and initiatives in place to ensure that our culture remains awesome as we continue to grow. One such initiative is the quarterly nomination of Values Ambassadors by employees. These ambassadors, who have excelled in embodying, living, and demonstrating our values, proudly wear a badge of honour. Additionally, we organise two annual offsite events, where the entire team comes together for two days of activities and socialising. This allows us to interact with fellow Hokodians whom we may not normally have the opportunity to engage with. For example, last October's offsite took place in Mallorca, while the video below was captured at our March 2023 offsite in London.

All of this makes Hokodo a great place to work and somewhere you can truly be your best self. If that interests you, I urge you to check out our latest job listings – we'd love for you to join us!