At our company-wide get together last December we decided that 2008 was going to be a year of workplace experiments. Among other things, we discussed how we could make 37signals one of the best places in the world to work, learn, and generally be happy.
Here’s are a few of the things we’ve implemented so far:
Shorter work weeks
Last summer we experimented with 4-day work weeks. People should enjoy the weather in the summer. We found that just about the same amount of work gets done in four days vs. five days.
So if that’s the case we could either push everyone to work harder during those five days or we could just skip one of those days. We decided to skip one of those days.
So recently we’ve instituted a four-day work week as standard. We take Fridays off. We’re around for emergencies, and we still do customer service/support on Fridays, but other than that work is not required on Fridays.
Three-day weekends mean people come back extra refreshed on Monday. Three-day weekends mean people come back happier on Monday. Three-day weekends mean people actually work harder and more efficiently during the four-day work week.
Funding people’s passions
We decided that 37signals would help people pay for their passions, interests, or other curiosities. We want our people to experience new things, discover new hobbies, and generally be interesting people.
For example, Mark has recently taken up flight lessons. 37signals is helping him pay for those. If someone wants to take cooking lessons, we’ll help pay for those. If someone wants to take a woodworking class, we’ll help pay for that.
Part of the deal is that if 37signals helps you pay, you have to share what you’ve learned with everyone. Not just everyone at 37signals, but everyone who reads our blog. So expect to see some blog posts about these experiences.
Discretionary spending accounts
We’re in the process of giving everyone at 37signals a credit card. If you want a book or some software or you want to go to a conference, it’s on us. We just ask people to be reasonable with their spending.
If there’s a problem, we’ll let the person know. We’d rather trust people to make reasonable spending decisions than assume people will abuse the privilege by default.
We’ll post updates if we have them
The ideas above are active experiments. We’ll report back if we learn anything – good or bad – about what we’re doing and how it’s working.