A headquarters with a difference Walk into SOL City, headquarters of one of northern Europe's most admired companies, and it feels like you've entered a business playground. Located in a renovated film studio in the heart of Helsinki, the office explodes with (#5) colour, creativity and chaos. The walls are bright red, white and yellow; the employees wander the halls talking on yellow portable phones. Liisa Joronen developed SOL Cleaning Service 11 years ago, out of a 150-year-old industrial empire owned by her family. SOL's competitive (#̃) formula has five key ingredients.
Few people dream about becoming a cleaner. But that doesn't mean cleaners can't find satisfaction in their work. The keys to satisfaction, Joronen believes, are fun and individual freedom. Its cleaners wear red-and yellow (#15) jumpsuits that reinforce the company's upbeat image. SOL's logo, a yellow happy face, is on everything from her blazer to the company's budget reports. Freedom means abolishing all the rules and regulations of conventional corporate life, (here are no titles or secretaries at SOL, no (#20)individual offices or set hours of work. The company has eliminated all perks and statis symbols SOL's training programme consists of seven modules each of which lasts four months and ends with a rigorous exam. Of course, there are a limited number of (#25) ways to polish a table or shampoo a carpet. That's why SOL employees also study time management, budgeting and people skills.
Lots of companies talk about decentralising responsibility and authority. At SOL it's a way of life. (#30) The real power players of the company are its 135 supervisors, each of whom leads a team of up to 50 cleaners. These supervisors work with their teams to create their own budgets, do their own hiring and negotiate their own deals with customers. (#35) Liisa Joronen believes in autonomy, but she's also keen on accountability. SOL is fanatical about measuring performance. It does so frequently and visibly, and focuses on customer satisfaction. Every time SOL lands a contract, for example, the salesperson works at the new (#40) customer's site alongside the team that will do the cleaning in the future. Together they establish performance benchmarks. Then, every month, the customer rates the team's performance based on those benchmarks. 'The more we free our people from rules,' (#45) Joronen says, 'the more we need good measurements.' Laptops and cell-phones are standard equipment for all supervisors at SOL, freeing them to work where they want, how they want. Inside the offices there's almost no room for paper. So the company stores all critical budget (#50) documents and performance reports on its Intranet, along with training schedules, upcoming events and company news.
From Fast Company
Businesses come in many guises, from the lonely-sounding self-employedperson and sole trader, throughthe SME,(the small to medium-sized enterprise), tothe multinationalwith its hierarchyand tensof thousands of employees. But the questions about what motivates people in work are basically the same everywhere.The first question that self-employed people get asked is how they find the self-disciplineto work alone and motivate themselves, with no one telling them what to do. Some companies arealso looking for this self-discipline and motivation; job advertisements often talk about the need for recruitsto be self-starters.
Some organisations (such as advertising agencies) want to find ways of motivating their people to be ever more productiveand creative.Employees and their managers in this type of organisation are relatively autonomous- they are not given exact procedures on how to meet objectives.
But others (such as banks) need people who can follow rules and apply procedures. (You do not want toomuch creativity when cashiers are counting banknotes!) These tend to be organisations with centralised cultures- exact procedures that must be followed are imposed from above.
In organisations of all kinds, the tendency is towards relatively flat structures,with only a few levels of hierarchy-this waythe senior management is relatively close to the people dealing with clients.
The current buzzword is flexibility.This has a number of related meanings. One type of flexibility has existed for some time in theform of flexitime or ftextime,where people can choose when they work within certain limits. Then there is flexible workingwith some staff hot desking,particularly those who are home working, teleworking or telecommutingand who only need to come into the office occasionally. The number of tele-workersis rising fast, thanks partly to the declining cost and increasing availability of fast broadband Internet connectionsand mobile phones.
A third type of flexibility is where employees are recruited on short contracts to work on specific projects,maybe part-time. Perhaps the organisation only has a core staff,and outsources or contracts out workas and when required. Some management experts say that this is the future, with self-employmentas the norm, andportfolio workers who have a number of different clients.