On this Rule Breakers podcast segment, Motley Fool co-founder David Gardner brings back a pair of his favorite guest Fools -- Chief Learning Officer Kara Chambers and Chief People Officer Lee Burbage -- to talk about a subject near and dear to his heart: how to get your corporate culture right. They speak from a place of authority, given that the company has been routinely recognized as one of the country's best places to work on a number of fronts.
So this week, Kara and Lee call out eight of the items in the Fool's cultural toolbox. Giving everyone more freedom to choose how and when they do their jobs is a key -- and to a degree that most workplaces would be shocked by, the Fools have independence about where, too; every desk is on casters, and people relocate themselves frequently based on their immediate needs and tasks.
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A full transcript follows the video.
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This video was recorded on Aug. 2, 2017.
Lee Burbage: Point No. 6 is we talk about autonomy in our office as a pretty big deal. We look everywhere for places where we can provide you with autonomy. And a secret to that is also a lot of times autonomy comes with less work for administration, and that sort of thing. One thing that we've done is just about everything in our office is on wheels, so it turns out it's a caster culture. I've heard that phrase used before.
So David, if you wanted to move your desk, which is just a table on wheels with two cords, you unplug your cords and you roll your desk over to wherever you want to go. You don't need to ask permission. You don't need to trade desks with somebody. There's no packing, or boxes, or anything. Literally just roll around.
Our office is literally different every day, and it's because people are moving around and maybe like Kara, they need a few minutes to work by themselves, because they're more introverted, and they roll their desk over. Like, "Hey, I'm on a team now. Let me roll that over to my team." So just providing people that mobility and the autonomy to make their own decision about where and how they want to work has been a big thing for us, and I think people are happier and more productive.
David Gardner: We didn't force-rank these points, so we're not saying that Point No. 6 is the sixth most important thing. But for a lot of offices -- whether you are in a small or a large office -- that's very doable. Now, for some offices, maybe you have mahogany furniture or you have stuff built in. You have cubicles that are basically anchored to the wall. Maybe you can't do that. But at least your chair on wheels, at least being able to slide around and meet with people or hang out for four days in a workpod to get stuff done seems doable. It wasn't until year what of our company, Lee, that we finally figured out we could put stuff on wheels?
Burbage: I think it was about eight years ago.
Gardner: So year 16. It took us 16 years to figure that out.
Burbage: When you were asking before about major mistakes that we made. I will say that when Bryan Tighe and Chad Wolfsheimer, two Fools that work here, came to me and talked to me about this, my first reaction was, "That sounds crazy! No, no, no!" And so it took them a little convincing of me. It's really part of the Scrum and Agile push.
In your mahogany desk scenario, I would say we've also found a lot of success finding little spaces in hallways. Any little gap in the office where you can shove a couch or roll a few chairs into to just give people options of other places to sit and interact has been pretty powerful, too. So not being tethered to a mahogany desk in the corner, and instead being able to get out and move around and move about the cabin, we think, is a pretty big deal. Again, my idea from the beginning.
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