Why do organizations like Airbnb, Zappos, and Google let you bring your friends or family to work? Facebook actually lets any employee bring up to four visitors at any time to see the campus, eat, and hang out. In fact, this is actually encouraged! But for what? It certainly takes time, effort, and resources to host and guide people around who don't actually work there, so why make the investment?
It turns out there's a lot you can learn about an organization that is willing to open up its doors to others. These types of organizations tend to have more focus on overall employee well-being, create a sense of community and diversity, drive innovation, and do a better job of connecting what the organization does back to the employees. In a sense, they have to be on top of their game because they are living and working in a metaphorical glass house that anyone can see into. These companies invest heavily in creating great employee experiences, which is why they feel confident opening their doors. They are holding themselves accountable. Some of the best companies for this are Apple, Riot Games, LinkedIn, and Facebook.
Offices are evolving into employee experience centers--museum-like places where employees can feel a sense of awe, curiosity, inspiration, joy, and pride. We all want to feel proud of the spaces we work in. The physical workspace helps create a connection between the organization and the employees who work there. Ultimately the physical environment is a reflection of the values of the organization. Employees who work in great physical environments typically feel a sense of pride and joy when it comes to their office spaces, and they want to show it off when given the opportunity to do so.
One of the easiest and most effective ways an organization can get a sense of whether employees feel proud of their workspaces and a connection to the organization is by seeing whether employees bring in their friends and family members when and if allowed. Funny enough, you rarely hear about a company with an unattractive work environment offering something like this! I always encourage organizations to open their doors to friends, family members, and strangers if possible. Let people take tours, speak with employees, and get a sense of what it's like to work there. If your organization is uncomfortable doing so, then chances are the environment in which employees work is not seen as something to be proud of (assuming you don't have any legal issues preventing people from coming into the office).
In addition, opening your doors can also be a great talent and recruitment strategy, assuming that you have an inspiring environment where your employees work. It's why so many business leaders from around the world flock to Silicon Valley to see what the organizations there are doing. If you have a great physical workspace, why wouldn't you want to show it to others? You can bet that when non-employees walk through the door and think, "Man, this must be a cool place to work," they will be checking out your job listings page when they get home. Of course, the opposite is also true, which is why the physical space is so important.
The rationale behind looking at this variable as a function of employee experience is quite straightforward. If employees feel like they work in a beautiful and modern environment, they will typically leverage the opportunity to show it to visitors and friends. Choosing to bring in friends and visitors measures employees' pride in their workplace, excitement about the organization, and connection between the employees and the organization. Do you have the confidence to open your doors to others?