People first, always

3 minutes read

Donna Kramer


Creating and maintaining a people-first culture has remained our top priority over the past three years, and most vitally over the past five months.

When life as we knew it was turned upside down, it was challenging not to let pandemic panic take over. In seeking expert advice on how best to maintain a sense of normality in a completely abnormal environment, I stumbled on a reflection from entrepreneur Mark Cuban. He said the way companies treated their team through the pandemic could define their brand for decades.

As business owners, our decision-making is anchored in an understanding that where you work is a choice and our talented team choosing Aruga is not something we take for granted. Creating and maintaining a people-first culture has remained our top priority over the past three years, and most vitally over the past five months. How?

Genuine flexibility

We embraced flexible work locations and rotations well before COVID-19, having long held the view that respectful employees respect accountability. With aligned expectations, we trust our team to deliver their work on or before deadline regardless of where they do it and understand that individuals’ peak performance parameters are different. Similarly, work-life ‘balance’ will always mean something a little different to everyone. For me, being able to take my daughter to her weekly music lesson during work hours is a highlight of my week.

Respecting boundaries

It’s vital to us that our team makes the most of life outside the office, so respecting work-life boundaries is paramount. We invest considerable time in operational planning to ensure that what we ask of our team is fair and equitable. There are a couple of ways we achieve this: by setting realistic billable targets; by mapping out the agency’s capacity for the month ahead; and by ensuring all team members have allocated time for the unexpected – be that a last-minute meeting request or simply a 3pm-slump-busting Mick’s Nuts run.

Respecting each other’s time

Team Aruga loves to chat but we do so with purpose, structure and meaningful connection. Our meetings have defined time limits and agendas because we respect that our colleagues’ time is valuable. We also know that free-flowing communication done well can often replace the need for a time-consuming meeting. We keep the lines of communication open with regular team check-ins, one-on-ones with business owners and individuals monthly and meme-filled internal messages via Slack.

Work perks

Agency work is a lifestyle, and we try to make the most of it with a number of ongoing initiatives. All team members have access to complimentary gym membership (plus the option to wear your gym gear or any gear you choose to work each and every day), the opportunity to volunteer the agency’s skills to champion a cause via our Helping Hands initiative, an open-door pooch policy, regular TOIL days to tackle life-admin tasks, plus a fully stocked bar fridge for when whine-time requires something a little stronger.

If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that our ability not just to survive, but to thrive, is entirely dependent on the talented folk who choose Aruga as their place of employment. As such, it makes perfect sense that we would put them first.

If a daily pooch parade is up your alley and you’d like to join team Aruga AU please drop us a line at

Donna Kramer


For 20 years, DK has delivered top-shelf communications solutions and business counsel for industry leaders across the cultural, tourism, lifestyle, property and not-for-profit sectors.