Life at tiney: Why play isn't just for children

Beth Toms

Beth Toms, Head of People

15 May 2020

Young children learn best when they play and we believe that this applies to adults as well. As adults we can easily dismiss the value of play and in doing so, miss its crucial role in creativity, problem solving and building relationships. At tiney we believe play is a superpower and we're working hard to build a company that reflects this belief each and every day.

What's so special about play? Children learn through play and it's how they make sense of the world - it's even a human right. According to Alison Gopnik, a well known psychologist who wrote 'How Babies Think', play teaches young children to learn like 'scientists', they experiment, form theories and push boundaries. Play is thought to be what children do when they are not being told what to do by adults.

Imagine if we could truly allow teams to play, explore ideas and challenge the norm like this. Instead of the usual boundary setting, lack of transparency and the worry to ask 'why' we're doing something. At tiney we're confident that if we can embrace the power of play internally, we'll become one step closer to building a world class childcare product.

We have a small but mighty team of 27 who are education experts and tech startup rockstars. We're keen to fuel our work with the energy and enthusiasm that children find when they play - especially during these tough times of Covid-19.

Here's a few things we've been doing so far;

Children's work and words

During our team meeting we have a regular slot about early years development. These are data driven insights into early years education to help us push the boundaries of what childcare should look like and also reminds us why we're building tiney.

Goal check ins with the Three Little Pigs

Nursery rhymes spark imagination and can have lots of different meanings. Each week we update the wider team on our work progress with a playful metaphor;

  • The Brick House - What we learnt and was a success?
  • The Straw House - What we learnt, but went wrong or wouldn't repeat?
  • The Stick House - What we need to work on for the week ahead?

The tiney but great Treasure Hunt

During someone's first week at tiney, they'll be set a treasure hunt by their manager. This is a list of tasks that will help them get settled into tiney, and once it's completed they'll be sent their welcome treasure! Everyone loves to play games and it helps to build confidence early on.

Transparent tiney

We encourage everyone to test their ideas, measure the success and scrap anything that doesn't work. An important part of experimenting is having all of the information you need, so we've followed the lead of Monzo and Stripe to be transparent by default. This is when there must be an argument made for something to be secret. Remember, a child can't explore the world if they're not exposed to all of its wonders.

Meetings to make you smile

During our wins for the week meeting on Friday we try to think of fun and inclusive ways to make people smile. So far we've had a hat themed meeting and a 'wear your favourite socks' extravaganza. A lot of our team, even myself as a People person, have not actually met in real life yet so this is a really great way to break the ice and help people get to know each other.

We want our team members to have fun, push boundaries and apply the power of play in their daily work. Play is everyone's superpower and we cannot wait to see how playful we can make working at tiney!

Beth Toms profile img

Beth Toms

Head of People

Beth spent the last three years building the digital bank Monzo. She worked hard to create an inclusive, honest and transparent culture whilst growing the team from 50 to over 1,600 in just three years. Beth began her career as a recruitment consultant in continuous improvement, then found tech startups and hasn't looked back since.

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