When the Katy Perry song “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” comes on the radio chanting, “TGIF, TGIF, TGIF,” I feel like an anthropologist studying a foreign species. “TGIF” is short for “Thank God it’s Friday,” and based on the fact that it’s a No. 1 single and has sold more than 3,000,000 copies in the U.S. alone, it resonates. Why? Because for most people, work sucks.
That may seem like a bold statement, but while we all go to work “with the Internet in our pants,” as Twitter’s CEO, Dick Costello, so aptly said, the basic structure of work hasn’t changed since the Industrial Revolution. Most clock in to a top-down hierarchy, where they’re expected to do as they’re told, conform, play politics, not let their personal lives interfere, and subordinate their happiness to the whims of their superiors. If I worked in that environment, I’d be chanting “TGIF,” too.
Over the past six years at adventur.es companies, we’ve experimented with what it means to “go to work.” Here are some observations and examples of what works for us — resulting in higher profits, more opportunity, and dramatically reduced turnover. I hope it helps uncover what might work for you.
We are focused on finding people at the intersection of a needed skill set, a shared passion, and a common ethos. Once on board, we focus on helping them find happiness. Yes, you read that correctly. While this might sound pretty “granola,” we believe the only sustainable way to an organization’s long-term health (and profitability) is through a focus on individual happiness. We want all members of our community to love their work, the “office,” and the people around them.
We believe in giving the individual as much autonomy as the situation allows, because the individual will always be in a superior position to know how best to spend time. For most of our companies, that means no defined work hours and unlimited paid leave. You are responsible for creating value, and you’re measured on that alone. If the best use of your time is to take a nap at home at 2 p.m. on a Tuesday, do it.
We’re all a work in progress, with our skills and interests constantly evolving. We want to facilitate that growth by exposing the community to new ideas, technologies, and opportunities. We invite speakers, like bestselling science journalist and author Gary Taubes, to help us better understand our world. We invest in emerging technology, like drones, robotics, and 3D printers, for everyone to use. We ask members of the community to teach on areas of expertise, like a recent lecture on how the movie “The Godfather” explains game theory.
I recently heard someone say, “Culture is merely a combination of what gets rewarded and punished.” Organizations talk about innovation, but punish the innovators. They say, “Be creative,” but they reward conformity. They tell everyone to take calculated risks, but treat project failure as personal failure. In the history of adventur.es, no one has ever been fired because a business failed or the person tried something that didn’t work out. In fact, plenty of people have been rewarded as the result of a failed project because they demonstrated thoughtfulness, diligence, and innovation.
Simply, we reward value created. Your age, degrees, sex, personal relationships, historical performance, or expectations have no bearing on your ability to be promoted. This is no more obvious than in the career path of Susanne Bylund, who is COO for adventur.es and the co-founder of many of our startups. She started five years ago as our receptionist. Today, she is responsible for virtually every facet of the business.
Have Fun, Be You
This isn’t a dress rehearsal. We believe life should be an intentional mix of meaningful work, enjoyable play, self-expression, and self-exploration. We don’t want the sanitized, conformed, or “normal” version. We want the authentic and uniquely weird you. To help facilitate this atmosphere, our Fun Committee works hard to keep filling the Museao garage with things like Ping-Pong, an Xbox, foosball, etc., and creating shared experiences like dodgeball tournaments and the recent ’80s-themed prom, complete with Rubik’s cubes, Pac-Man decorations, and plenty of Journey.
While we’ve made strides, we’ll never be done experimenting. If you have any suggestions or examples of what has worked for your company, I’d love to hear them. Ping me on Twitter @BrentBeshore or shoot me a note on LinkedIn. Cheers to a happier work and life where you’re thankful for every day, not just Fridays.
This post was originally published on Forbes.