I know that a lot of you will be able to relate to the sort of work environment that we are running here.
We make edgy jokes, the sort of jokes that a lot of people would find offensive. We shoot each other with nerf guns. We ignore the corporate hierarchy within our team when we make decisions, and internally we try to run a meritocracy. We spend time outside of the office, and we always go to lunches together. I can safely say that our team culture brings us closer, and that we are all OK with it.
Before some of you say 'It may seem like you're all onboard with it, but someone might be offended' - I know for a fact that it's not the case. We all know each other very well, and it's not a problem. It's a team of intelligent people, and when something really is 'too close to home' we don't go there.
We actually work in a big multinational corporation.
We have have this business analyst that doesn't really interact with our team much, but we've had to work together a little. She has made comments that our team is not being 'run properly' and that we have a 'culture problem'. I am confident that we are all smart enough not to have said anything to her, but she has probably heard us talk amongst each other and decided that for herself.
This is making the senior manager who is responsible for us look bad. Personally, I'm not even sure that this isn't a pure politics play. Our team has a strong reputation for delivering. But nonetheless, the issue has been raised amongst the higher-ups about us, and they are looking to 'fix' 'the problem'.
How do we deal with this? We are past the point of running a sterile environment, and my impression is that if it starts being forced on the team then that will lower the morale quite a bit. I'm not even convinced that we need to change. We work fine. This is coming from the outside. What to do?
To be clear: when I say offensive jokes, I am talking about offensive against each other. For example we make fun of one guy for looking like a hipster (and he does so himself). We would never do that towards anyone we don't know. There is no lewd or inappropriate comments. Most of us have families, and the team is mixed-gender.
In response to comments in one of the answers: I don't believe this is a no-win scenario. I also don't believe that this is uncommon. Large companies are not mono-culture, teams and departments all behave differently. What goes on a trading floor in a bank does not go in the back-office where they run risk management reports, yet sometimes these people will run into each other. I am sure that others have faced the problem that I'm facing now.