VEVO Lady Gaga
So tech companies have come up with a lot of great tricks to boost their employee’s creativity.
From having Lady Gaga talk to employees to giving staff year-long sabbaticals, these ideas have often led to a company’s most successful products.
It also leads to happier employees.
Sagmeister & Walsh gives everyone a whole year off every seven years
Every seven years, designer Stefan Sagmeister closes his New York studio, Sagmeister & Walsh for a year-long sabbatical to let all employees rejuvenate and refresh their creative outlook.
He showed off the innovated products that resulted from a refreshed workforce in a 2009 Ted Talk.
(His staff also poses naked for official photos … but that’s another story.)
Google’s famous “20 percent time”
Google offers mind-enriching @Google Talks
Another great thing Google does to stir creativity is to invite all kinds of famous people onto its campus to give lectures. It calls this program @Google Talks and the guests range from celebrities, like Lady Gaga and Tina Fey to artists, authors, performers, activists and politicians.
HubSpot lets any employee sit in with another team for a while
Like Google, HubSpot is another company that is famous for a great company culture.
It also brings in speakers and teaches classes. But one unique thing it does, as part of its culture of an “uncomfortable level of transparency,” is to let employees join another team for a while to learn about that part of the business, HubSpot cofounder, CTO, Dharmesh Shah, told Business Insider.
So engineers can learn more about marketing for instance, or vice versa.
3M offers 15% Time
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
3M’s “15% time” actually predates Google’s “20 percent time” by a few decades. Back in 1974, one 3M scientist, Art Fry, used his 15% time to put adhesive onto the back of a piece of paper.
That project would become the company’s most iconic product, the Post It Note.
Microsoft uses Bill Gates’ office for inspiration
Microsoft also holds science fairs
Microsoft also holds what it calls “Science Fairs” twice a year. They use these fairs to show off the kind of projects they are working on in their spare time, often at the Microsoft Garage.
The whole company attends, even senior vice presidents, and the projects are judged. The winner gets to set off a homemade volcano named Mount St. Awesome.
IBM holds enormous “jams”
IBM holds what it calls “jams,” which are massive brainstorming events focused on a specific topic.
The most famous jam is probably the one that took place in 2006 called the “Innovation Jam” – the largest IBM online brainstorming session ever held.
The company brought together more than 150,000 people from 104 countries and 67 companies and they came up with 10 new ideas that IBM invested $100 million into developing, including things like smart healthcare payment systems and a 3D Internet.
Asana feeds its employees gourmet lunches and chocolate
Julie Bort/Business Insider
Asana, the project management app cofounded by ex-Facebookers Dustin Moskowitz and Justin Rosenstein, uses food to keep employees creative.
Asana’s office has a commercial kitchen staffed with two full-time chefs who plan healthy, gourmet, organic meals that boost productivity and avoid post-lunch sleepiness.
If employees still need a boost, they can chow down on chocolate from the wall-o-gourmet chocolate stored in the office. (Or they can do a shot of Scotch from the Scotch collection kept above the chocolate.)
Eventbrite uses dim lights to recharge employees
Eventbrite Zen room
Recent research shows that dim lighting boosts creativity. San Francisco-based ticket-sale company Eventbrite has taken that lesson to heart.
Its office includes a Zen Room, with low-lights and no noise. It’s a place where employees can meditate, think or nap on the comfy couches.
Yammer conducts hack days … in costume
Lots of tech companies have “hack days.” That’s where developers gather to create new products or features, often working all night writing the code to bring their ideas to life.
Yammer does it one better. The hack day lasts a full 24-hours and employees dress up in wild costumes. The whole company joins in on the fun.
GitHub crowns a monthly King or Queen of Developers
Owen Thomas, Business Insider
GitHub is a San Francisco-based company that makes a tool for hosting other people’s software projects. Each month, it crowns a King or Queen of Developers and that person runs the help desk for its customers, CEO Tom Preston-Werner told Business Insider.
Where tech support is often considered an entry-level job at other tech companies, by putting a top developer on it each month, engineers find the trouble spots and sees unexpected ways its customers are using its platform. That leads to fast fixes and all sorts of creative new features.