At Trivago, employees don't have to come to work
- Rolf Schrömgens, founder and CEO of Trivago, told CNBC that when he and his business partners co-founded the hotel-booking company, they wanted to create a profitable business with an engaging culture. That's why Trivago doesn't force employees to come into the office to work. It's also why productivity is so high, according to Schrömgens.
- The idea that people who work 50% more will be 50% more productive doesn't suit knowledge workers or promote creativity, said Schrömgens. "Ninety percent of people here, and probably even more, have a creative job," he said. To evaluate employees' performance, Trivago uses peer reviews with an emphasis on contriubtions to the company.
- Hiring self-motivated employees is key to Trivago's attendance policy and high productivity. He said the company doesn't want to tell employees what to do, but, instead, wants them to make responsible decisions on their own. Employees working on projects that require collaboration usually come into the office when most employees are there, and those who work independently or want less distraction usually come in when the workplace is mostly empty.
Trivago's business model might work for a company whose workers are largely tasked with creative duties. But it might not offer enough structure for less homogenous work environments where certain disciplines drive the core business and others provide support.
Will a company with largely independent workers and thinkers allow HR to maintain a compliant workplace, engage employees and generally carry out its strategic plans? So far, it seems Trivago has found success in a job market demanding flexibility and independence, partly due to its thorough hiring process. Employees feel more engaged when they feel they have control over their own work, and that certainly seems to be working here.
Pushes for flexibility can go too far in some cases, however. Holacracy is a similarly radical philosophy which received mixed reviews from adopters. In a holocracy, hierarchies are flattened and there are few, if any, bosses. Zappos moved to a Holacracy in mid-2015, an experiment that began in 2013. There were no managers or job titles, employees defined their own positions and anyone could set an agenda for a meeting. But by January 2016, the footwear retailer had lost 18% of its staff. It has since switched gears, but not entirely.
At the very least, flexible workplaces may want to ensure they have a strategic plan, a blueprint to guide growth and advancement.