Recently I had a really interesting conversation with one of our clients about freedom in the work environment. It culminated in us pondering why many companies fear loosening up controls on how their employees work. I walked away brainstorming how to make approaching freedom less intimidating.
When Jeb declared total freedom for all SmallBox employees, it wasn't just a whim. Years of work went into hiring a team of self-led, motivated people and building the right culture. If you're starting from scratch but ready to begin building a more trusting, open environment in your workplace, some of these small forays into freedom might do the trick:
- Sabbatical Days - While still technically work, allowing sabbatical days for employees can be wildly empowering. These days could be used for self-learning or to tackle projects that can benefit ongoing work.
- Bonus Vacation Days - Our unlimited vacation policy might not be appropriate for every company, but you can supplement your vacation offerings with some creative bonus days. One idea is to use your slowest quarter of the year to offer bonus 3 day weekends. If you still need people present Monday through Friday, divide the team, giving half off Monday and half off Friday. Another idea is to give people their birthday off as a bonus vacation day.
- Work from Wherever Days - When SmallBox has big projects to kick off and brainstorm, we often go off-site. We've found that getting out of our office takes us out of our normal patterns, allowing for different thinking and deeper collaboration. Sometimes we do this with our whole team (as in Factory Week).
- Flex Work Day - Is it imperative that all of your team be present from 9-5? Some people wake at the crack of dawn, ready to go. Others can't find a productive rhythm until 10 a.m. or later. If you're afraid your team won't have enough overlap time to collaborate, set a parameter. As example, your policy could read: "Set your own schedule, so that you work 8 hours between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m."
Any of these options above would feel freeing in an environment that currently maintains strict operating hours and limited vacation time, while helping determine how the team responds to extra freedom and trust. If you try any of these out, we'd love to hear from you on how productivity and morale were impacted as these benefits rolled out!
Thanks to Jessica Rodgers for the awesome conversation and blog inspiration!