Every company wants to be innovative, but some companies do it better than others. Here are 15 companies that have unusual policies in place to help create a culture that drives their vision:
Hackathons: Facebook uses overnight hackathons as a way to come up with creative solutions and products in a competitive, high-pressure way. For these overnighters, employees bring sleeping bags, and kegs and pizza are provided… giving the whole event a college dorm vibe.
No Schedules: Netflix is an organization built on efficiency, which is why it might surprise you to learn that they don’t have schedules or vacation policies; employees just take as much time as they need. Managers are encouraged to value efficiency over attendance, and let staff go if they’re not doing the job. Rewards don’t necessarily go to those who arrive early and work late if other staff achieve the same results in a standard day.
Secret Limo Interview: Geek Squad was built from one man’s mobile repair service that went out to homes to fix computers. His reputation quickly grew, and suddenly Hollywood celebrities were referring him around to other celebs. Without offices, and with a growing business, how do you interview people? In a limo, of course!
Central Bathroom: Pixar’s bathrooms are location in the middle of the building, which requires some employees to walk more than 15 minutes to get there. Steve Jobs believed it was crucial to bring people together to mix and mingle and share ideas.
20% Time: Google gives employees free time each week to work on a project of their choosing. Google Maps, Keyboard Shortcuts, and Google Person Finder are among the products that have been born out of that time.
100% Time: Valve is a gaming company with a flat organization structure: there are no bosses, and employees get to work on whatever they want to work on.
Show and Tell: 3M is an 110 year old company with nearly a 1:1 employee to product ratio. How? 3M gives engineers an hour a day to do whatever they want. It doesn’t even have to be related to work. All they have to do is share it with their colleagues.
Keep it Weird: Method asks three questions during interviews, and one is, “How do you plan on keeping Method weird?” They believe it’s key to showing how someone will bring passion and personality to their work every day. In addition, Method is known to have everyone take turns doing a day of secretary duty, surprising corporate visitors with gags and costumes, and paying for employees’ improv classes to help in creative thinking.
Invest in the Baristas: Starbucks spends a generous amount of time and energy on training their employees, including things like giving employees passports that get stamped every time they try a new coffee, and shutting down locations nationwide for training on customer service.
Impossible Trivia: Microsoft’s famous interview questions are designed ro make sure the best and smartest get hired, with unique critical thinking questions like, “Why are manhole covers round?” and “How many stacked quarters would it take to get to the top of the empire state building?”
Pay People to Quit: Zappos wants employees that are just as committed to the company as they are, so after the first week of working, they offer new recruits the amount they earned, plus and additional $1,000, to quit.
Unlimited Free Travel: Southwest employees get unlimited free travel on the airline. The availability extends to spouses and partners, and the offer even includes four “buddy” passes per quarter. Employees also receive discounts on partner airlines, hotels, and car rentals.
Celebrate Failure: Gore celebrates with champagne and beer when a project doesn’t work out, just as they would if it had been a success. Celebrating failure encourages risk taking.
Don’t Buy This: Patagonia believes in sustainability, and taking care of the earth. They’re so committed to their vision that they’ve spent money on telling people to buy less, to reuse old products, a program to repair old Patagonia-wear, and to help people sell their unwanted clothes on eBay.
Artist Culture: Threadless was founded by an artist who just made cool T-shirts with his friends for fun. He had no idea how big it would become. To keep that close-knit artsy feel as they’ve gotten bigger, they’ve allowed every employee to add a part of themselves to the office; whether that be graffiti, a spaceship, or an airstream booth.