Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote has a reputation for his untraditional management style. Instead of following the mold of those before him, Libin decided to take a step back and really concentrate on what he wanted the culture of Evernote to be like. From the technology they use to their communication methods, Evernote does things a little differently. Libin did an interview with Adam Bryant from the NY Times, and here are some take-aways.
In an effort to create a more cohesive and engaged work space, nobody in the Evernote building has an office. Instead of having practices in place that create a ladder feeling, Evernote’s workspace is wide-open and flat. Pay is really the only indicator of seniority. There are not great parking spots or preferential treatment, everyone is out in the open. In referencing traditional perks of C level man agent Libin said,
“They create artificial barriers to communication. They create artificial things that people focus on rather than just getting their job accomplished. We try to have an organization that just helps you get your work done, and then it’s my job to eliminate all of the risks and all the distractions so you can just focus on achieving.”
So instead of hiring those who will leave a trail of blood on their way to the corner office, Evernote attracts employees that are driven achievement, not status.
That’s right, there are no land line phones in the Evernote office space. Every employee has smart phones and their plans are paid for the company. Libin saw that phones were just not needed, so he got rid of them. This isn’t Libin’s first company and it most likely won’t be his last. With each company, his goal has been to eliminate one piece of unnecessary technology. Libin said,
“We’re not a sales organization, so we’re not making a lot of calls. If you’re at your desk, you should be working. And that’s actually worked really well. I don’t think anyone misses phones. Even though it’s one big room, it’s actually fairly quiet because no one is sitting there talking at their desk.”
This sounds crazy right? Email has rapidly become the cornerstone of business as we know it. But if you take a step back and look at its flaws, it starts to makes sense. Have you ever gotten a string of emails forwarded to you, you open it, read through the dozens of back and forth messages and are simply left wondering what this has to do with you and why it was sent? So then you read it again. This all too commonly used forward button has caused a lot of wasted time. According to an Atlassian inforgraphic on time wasters at work, the average productivity cost per employee based off of unnecessary emails is about $1,800.
“We strongly discourage lengthy e-mail threads with everyone weighing in.” Libin add, “Plus, it’s dangerous because it’s way too easy to misread the tone of something. If you want to talk to somebody and you’re a couple floors apart, I kind of want you to get up and go talk to them.”
While Libin prefers face-to-face communications, the Evernote workspace has a robot through which you can communicate. Right?! Anybots allow employees to log in and drive it around. The controller can see through the robots eyes and hear what the robot hears. Additionally, the robot has a screen, making it possible to have causal face-time conversations with people at their desk.
Along with other practices like unlimited vacation time and voluntary training programs, Libin leads his team in a different way, and it seems to be working pretty well for Evernote. Libin explains his methodology best when he said,
“We always try to ask whether a particular policy exists because it’s a default piece of corporate stupidity that everyone expects you to have, or does it actually help you accomplish something? And very often you realize that you don’t really know why you’re doing it this way, so we just stop doing it.”