By Nai Kanell
Director of Marketing
Silicon Valley is synonymous with innovation. Many of the world’s foremost tech companies are born and raised here—along with disruptive, innovative workplace practices. It’s a high-pressure environment, which facilitates the need for adaptive work habits. As a result, the workplace innovations that come out of Silicon Valley are usually tried and true, forged in fire.
Companies looking to stay ahead of the competition and keep pace with rapid industry trends need to embrace change. That starts by fostering an innovative workplace. Beyond finding ways to streamline what you’re already doing, it’s time to start thinking about what you’re not doing. Here are a few tried, tested, and proven ideas for innovation in the workplace, straight from the Silicon Valley kiln.
1. Scrum early and often
Every day presents new challenges, so it’s a smart idea to start the work day by addressing them. Scrums—led by scrum masters—are an agile process where small teams come together to review and address problems or challenges. It’s a fast-paced, collaborative situation with one specific focus: come away with an action plan.
Designating scrum masters and leading scrums daily is a smart way to keep focus on what matters. Constant assessment and open collaboration can prevent small problems from becoming bigger or known challenges from thwarting larger goals. It’s a great way to bring the workplace together, encourage teamwork, and inspire culture.
Companies can also use the scrum as an accountability tool. If yesterday’s problems linger today, what happened? What problems persist? Who’s responsible for what part of the solution?
2. Encourage agility through mobility
Gone are the days of employees spending eight hours seated in the same place. You have an entire workplace—it’s time to start using it. Companies need to adopt an agile mindset and encourage their employees to become dynamic, instead of static. They can work independently at their desk, collaborate with peers in a different space, spend time at a hot desk for a change of scenery, and find inspiration in an experiential setting.
Configure your workplace to accommodate constant motion; then, let people know it’s okay to stand up and move around. The more comfortable they become with a dynamic workplace, the more adaptable your workforce becomes. Expanding beyond their desk also expands their comfort zone. They’re better-able to roll with the punches and adjust to the unknown, instead of being trapped in a stagnant routine.
3. Make remote work seamless
Employees have always coveted remote work as a perk. Now, it’s becoming a standard. Companies need to not only embrace remote workers, they need to empower them. This means investing in cloud technologies and reinvented processes. Video chat, cloud collaboration platforms, instant messaging, secure file access, and more are all top priorities—as are the methods for involving remote workers in daily operations.
Employees need to feel like they’re still part of the team and an active contributor to success—even when they’re doing it from home, a coffee shop, or a coworking space. Make sure the contributions of remote staff are as seamless as the transition from in-office to mobile work.
4. Foster interdepartmental synergy
One of the biggest keys to successfully improving the modern office has been to take data out of silos and look at the workplace holistically. Why not do the same for your human capital? The more Marketing knows about Sales, the better they can support them. The same holds true for countless other business segments. Fostering an interdepartmental synergy has profound effects—not just on how the workplace operates, but on the greater success of the company.
There are many ways to improve relationships across business segments. Consider creative seating arrangements like desk neighborhoods or pods, which may include different personnel. There’s also the concept of interdepartmental meetings about broad business objectives. Create situations for departments to rely on each other and watch as these collaborations become fundamental drivers of workplace improvement.
5. Appropriate the hackathon mindset
Hackathons are another popular concept in Silicon Valley. The theme is usually one of the following: break it, do it better, or solve a problem. Smart companies are wise to adopt a similar line of thinking.
Encourage your employees to consider their workplace. Then, tell them to break it, do it better, or solve a problem. The results can be eye-opening! Someone might identify a legacy process that’s inefficient, showing exactly why it’s broken. Another person might show you exactly how to do it better. Someone else might offer up a solution to a problem you didn’t even know existed. The hackathon mindset is a form of innovation itself. It’s the constant pursuit of improvement at the hands of your employees.
Keep striving for innovation
Why is innovation important in the workplace? Because it keeps business in the habit of adapting. No matter what’s new or next, innovative workplaces find a way to thrive. Putting these five practices into effect in your workplace will get your team in the right mindset for success.
Keep reading: Innovative Ideas for Facility Management.