12 Ways Tech Companies Boost Creativity
Gaga for innovationSagmeister & Walsh gives employees a whole year off Google offers "20 percent time"Additionally, Google offers mind-enriching @Google TalksHubSpot lets employees sit in with other teams3M offers 15 percent timeMicrosoft uses Bill Gates' office for inspirationThe tech giant also hosts science fairsIBM holds brainstorming sessions called "Jams" Asana caters in gourmet lunches and chocolateEventbrite has its own Zen roomYammer conducts hack days in costumeGitHub crowns a monthly King or Queen of Developers
Tech companies have come up with a lot of great tricks to boost creativity.
From having Lady Gaga talk to employees to giving staff year-long sabbaticals, these ideas often lead to a company's most successful product.
They also lead to better morale.
Here are some of the ways they're helping employees crank up the creativity.
This story originally appeared on Business Insider.
Every seven years, designer Stefan Sagmeister closes his New York studio, Sagmeister & Walsh, for a year-long sabbatical.
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 famously gives its engineers time to work on creative projects. Up to 20 percent of their workweek can go toward them.
The most famous Google service to come out of a "20 percent project," as Google calls it, is Gmail.
Google also invites all kinds of famous people onto its campus to give lectures. The company calls this program @Google Talks and the guests range from celebrities like Lady Gaga and Tina Fey to authors, activists, and politicians.
Like Google, HubSpot is famous for its culture.
The company brings in speakers and hosts classes. As part of its "uncomfortable level of transparency," HubSpot lets employees join another team to learn their part of the business, HubSpot cofounder, CTO, Dharmesh Shah, told Business Insider.
Engineers can learn more about marketing, for instance, or vice versa.
3M's "15 percent time" actually predates Google's "20 percent time" by a few decades.
Back in 1974, one 3M scientist named Art Fry used his 15 percent time to put adhesive onto the back of a piece of paper.
That project went on to become the company's most iconic product -- the Post-it.
Microsoft has converted Bill Gates' old office into a space called "The Garage" that's filled with every techno-toy imaginable. Employees can go there to tinker on various projects.
Sometimes, whole product teams get a "Garage Week" where they can innovate in The Garage.
Microsoft also hosts "Science Fairs" twice a year so employees can show off what they've been working on in their spare time. The fairs are often held in the Microsoft Garage.
The whole company attends -- even senior vice presidents -- and each product is judged. The winner gets to set off a homemade volcano named Mount St. Awesome.
IBM holds "Jams," or massive brainstorming events on various topics.
The most famous jam is probably the "Innovation Jam," held in 2006. It was also the largest online brainstorming session IBM has ever held.
The company brought together more than 150,000 people from 104 countries and 67 companies, who came up with 10 new ideas. IBM invested $100 million into these ideas, which included smart healthcare payment systems and 3D internet.
Asana, the project management app co-founded by ex-Facebookers Dustin Moskowitz and Justin Rosenstein, relies on 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 promote productivity.
If employees still need a boost, they can chow down on chocolate from the wall-o-gourmet chocolate (or they can do a shot of Scotch from a collection kept above the candy.)
Recent research shows that dim lighting boosts creativity. San Francisco-based ticket-sale company Eventbrite has taken that information 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 couch.
Lots of tech companies have "hack days." That's where developers gather to create new products or features, often working all night to write the code that brings their ideas to life.
Yammer's hack day lasts a full 24-hours and employees dress up in wild costumes. The whole company joins in.
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.
By putting a top developer on the desk each month, engineers can identify problems and learn how customers actually use their technology. That leads to fast fixes and all sorts of new features.