I was meeting with an experienced and successful entrepreneur and my business partner today. The entrepreneur said some intereing things:
"All of my employees are permitted to work a maximum of 3 days a week at the office... and nobody gets their own office. "
When asked why he responded:
"If you can't trust someone to work at home you really can't trust them to work at the office either. So you shouldn't hire them in the first place. And if they do work from home they usually work uninterrupted and productively."
He also went on to say that the lack of offices with doors at his company was due to:
"If you have an office someone can come in and turn a 3 minute conversation into 30 minutes of wasted time. If you work out in the open then someone stopping by to chat has to talk in front of everyone which puts a lot of pressure on them to talk about something with real substance."
Finally, he said that he had no secretaries because:
"The whole point of a secretary is to schedule meetings for you, you can't work if you're at meetings all day so I don't have a secretary."
Now this is a guy I could work with! I'm all for empowering the employee... it's amazing the capabilities that each individual has in terms of creativity and productivity. I strongly believe that it is the system that hinders the employee from fully unlocking the potential of the human person as a thinking, creating and analyzing machine (for instance Toyota is destroying GM because the employees are empowered with a kill switch for the whole production line. If they find something wrong with even one part they are encouraged to stop production so it can be fixed. As you can imagine the error rates have dropped significantly. GM has had no such system.) Any corporate or work structure/system needs to be designed to work for humans, not vice versa. The system should be a tool for the human, not see the human as a tool for the system.
Oh and he also bans sticky notes because:
"Sticky notes cost 3 times what paper does and besides you can just send an email or write it down in the computer for free."