Workplace Innovation

I love seeing companies change the way they work with people. I’m glad to see the old traditional style of coming to work in suits, super hierarchical management, and standard job switching is going away. Every person is different, and so is their work-style. Having a more flexible work environment, enables one can get more out of their team/employees as to fit the differing work styles. And yes, it may be harder to manage, but that may be why only good managers (according to Google) try to think outside the box.

So here are a few things that I’ve read about, that I really like:

  • Facebook’s hackamonths - Enables employees to spend a month in an another group/project after a year of work. After that month, the employee can choose to stay on or go back to the old job. Great way to give employees flexibility in where to work within the company.
  • Hack Weeks – I’ve seen this employed in various places (Twitter’s hack week, Dropbox’s week). It gives a chance for employees to showcase their creativity and ideas. Ideas which then can bloom into something great.
  • Google 20% time – The famous Google 20%, which allows employees to spend one day a week on something of their own choosing. Similar to a hack week, it allows employees to work on their own projects, but in this structure it can bloom on it’s own. That weekly continuity gives the employee latitude to help their projects to grow.
  • Best Buy true work/life balance – A non-tech company example, and one of my favorites. Gives employees true flexibility in determining their hours. They pick whether to come to the office, work from home, all it matters is that they finish their work.

As a side thought it made me think of the “sources” of work as gleaned from Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat.

  1. Open-source – Well common in the tech industry, Linux and Mozilla, maybe the best examples of this. Using an “open” platform to gain help from the entire community.
  2. Out-source – Common in the manufacturing world, using labor in other countries to supplement that you might normally do in-house.
  3. Crowd-source - Harnessing the power of the crowd to help accomplish a goal. I see it used often in Beta testing, and data gathering.
  4. In-source – Thomas Friedman talk about this. In a way, the opposite of out-source, doing things in-house that you might normally do out-house. Example, in his book Friedman talks about the USPS picking up laptops to repair from Sony, HP, etc…then instead of sending it to those companies, they bring it to a common local warehouse, and fix all of them. Effieciency is gained by combining similar jobs that are common to a few companies.
  5. Home-source – Instead of work/life balance, this is harnessing the power of those that need to be home most of the time. Crushes the idea that you need to be in an office. Friedman mentions an example of JetBlue, home-sourcing their reservation specialists to stay at home parents.


With the different “sources” of work, and the new ideas being used to be more flexible for employees, I can’t wait to see what new workplace innovations come up. I wonder what ideas/innovations I can come up with.

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