There's a growing trend of corporations creating cultures that are reminiscent of startups.
There's something about startup culture as a whole that corporations tend to lose grip of during their growth. Just ask yourself: what do you think of when you hear the phrase "Office culture"? It would likely be something along the lines of a pretty cold (literally and figuratively) environment with many rows of cubicles, full of heavily caffeinated people that are just typing away, working like robots. You might also think of some of the more unpleasant aspects, such as office politics and bureaucracies.
Now those are some of the images typically associated with corporate culture. Corporate culture does have many perks as well, such as a greater sense of financial stability and defined roles. However, startup culture still reigns supreme in my book. Now startups aren't always based in trendy open spaces, the employees do indeed have to wear many hats, and yes, they are still heavily caffeinated, but do you want to know some of what they have that most corporations lost along the way? The desire to create new innovations; speed in product development; the ability to take risks on a whim; and genuine cross-departmental camaraderie amongst team members.
There's certainly no right or wrong between the way companies of any size operate, as no two companies are alike. Plus, different types of cultures align better with different types of personalities, preferences, and work habits. Even so, corporations are beginning to take a step back to evaluate ways they can undergo an internal transformation, to bring back the small-feel work environment. Companies such as Google, Facebook, Cisco, and TripAdvisor have made the shift years ago, and they are enjoying the fruits of it.
Corporations can gain a lot from successfully incorporating startup culture including:
Stronger DNA -- As cliche as it may sound, a warm company culture works wonders for the DNA of the company and branding.
Greater Scalability -- As companies grow, it's crucial for them to not lose the "work hard, play hard" mentality. It keeps creative minds sharp and their work exciting as they support one another towards their goals
Internal Referrals -- Word spreads about great company culture, and that brings about additional great talents though internal referrals
Loyalty -- It goes without saying that a strong company culture has tremendous staying power for employees who genuinely believe in the company vision.
Wix, the popular free hosted website builder, is one company that has done an amazing job in keeping the thrill of startup culture going in their company. The culture within the team, coupled with their impressive growth in a few short years inspired me to reach out to the CEO, Avishai Abrahami, to learn more about the magic behind-the-scenes that led to their success, for other corporations (and startups!) to replicate.
Startup culture played a strong role in the rapid growth of Wix, which is now at over 2,000 employees across 12 offices globally. The way I see it, they excelled at not only keeping their employees satisfied, but they also created a strong community amongst their user-base, all in a manner that's typically seen with startups that are hungering to make it. Wix never lost that drive.
Here's some of what they have done, which you can easily replicate:
Out with the silo mentality, in with unity between departments. Think about it, at the end of the day, you're all on the same ship with the same ultimate goal. It's okay to share insights, project details, successes and failures. Avishai is big on "...making sure that our team communications are transparent and open to feedback." The progress that stems from this simple act is astounding.
Listen to the Employees
Your employees are standing in the front lines in their respective positions, and believe me, they have a lot to say, much of which is definitely worth the listen. Wix realizes that, and assures that their employees are aware that their thoughts and opinions matter. Avishai says, "We encourage ideas and innovation from all corners of the company. Despite our size, we are cross-functional with a steady stream of development across groups, making sure that employees are engaged and able to contribute as we grow."
Be Open to Feedback
According to Avishai, Wix has "a consistent user feedback cycle with over 130 million customers around the world that helps drive our product innovation." Wix ensures that their employees and well as their customers feel valued.
There are additional cultural cues that corporations can take from startups. You can set aside a designated space for employees to spark the entrepreneurial spirit, to help champion innovation at all levels. You can also consider free-thinking workplace design, which calls for quiet zones, team huddle rooms, and areas for team members to converse. Incorporating startup culture into corporate environments is the best way for forward-thinking entrepreneurs to foster a new wave of success.