Extraordinary management requires extraordinary thinking, and these creative workplace strategies are proven to supercharge team productivity over a sustained period. The following are innovative ideas used in companies all over the world to help high-performance teams crank efficiency up a few notches.

1. Schedule a FedEx Day

Australian software company Atlassian holds what it calls FedEx Days once per quarter to drive employee motivation and productivity. During these intense 24-hour periods, employees can work on whatever project they want so long as it doesn’t fall under their normal job responsibilities. The only other stipulation is that they must present their completed project to their colleagues the next day.

Atlassian cranks things up even further by enabling employees to vote on each other’s projects, giving an award to the winner and, in some cases, green-lighting top ideas for full production. The influence of FedEx Days on employee motivation and overall productivity is so strong that author Daniel Pink recommended it in his book “Drive.”

2. Install a Love Machine

Second Life founder Philip Rosedale improved company culture by incentivizing employee recognition with the Love Machine. This series of video monitors lets workers leave short messages for specific individuals to recognize work well done, help given and other timely accolades. This system, as Rosedale explained, enables teammates to “tip each other for good work, and also to keep a very high degree of awareness about what everyone was doing, even as the company grew.”

3. Transition to a ROWE

Not all employees can function at their peak during the 9-to-5 workday; similarly, not all employees can focus in an office environment. A ROWE, or a results-only work environment, enables workers to essentially set their own hours and work wherever they feel most comfortable. Employees are measured solely on results, and preset quotas of vacation days, sick days or core hours are all thrown out the window.

The ROWE concept was devised by Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson of CultureRx for Best Buy; CultureRx has since helped 40 more U.S. companies transition to this innovative workplace strategy. Michael Reynolds, the president and CEO of SpinWeb, saw productivity double after his company enacted a ROWE.

4. Let Employees Drive Bonuses

Another Second Life workplace strategy Rosedale revealed is that of employee-driven bonuses. Each teammate gets $1,000 per year to allocate to coworkers as he or she pleases. This peer performance review takes the onus of dividing bonuses away from managers, who may not be as closely connected with office leaders and peak performers.

5. Adopt “Thinking Days”

Barry Glassman of Glassman Wealth Services doesn’t send his employees to pricey conferences; instead, he sends them home for a day once per quarter, with pay, to watch presentations on Ted.com and brainstorm ideas for the business. Glassman also dedicates a half-day each quarter to an all-staff meeting in which each employee presents his or her favorite Ted.com presentation.

Glassman reports that Thinking Days have supercharged team productivity and new ideas. They’ve also raised employee morale, kept teams connected and exposed workers to a bevy of keynotes from the world’s top thinkers.

The GWS Thinking Days also play on a phenomenon studied by Simone Ritter and his fellow researchers at the Radboud University Behavioral Science Institute: the role of the unconscious mind in creative output. Ritter asked two groups of university students to devise solutions to an everyday problem. One group spent 2 minutes on a distracting task before compiling their answers, while the other group got to work immediately.

Both groups came up with about the same number of creative ideas, but the first group was far better at picking its most creative idea than the second group. This pattern held up in subsequent experiments, leading the researchers to believe that the unconscious mind helps us determine which of our ideas are worth pursuing.

Conclusion

One of the toughest tasks managers have is fostering employee productivity and efficiency over an extended period. These strategies promote a productive office culture that organically motivates workers.

(Photo credit: Closeup portrait of group of business people with hands together via Shutterstock)

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