Continuing my appreciation for Valve, a maker of great games as well as the creator of the online Steam community platform, I recently heard (via Valve’s leaked crazy company handbook) about the structure and policy at the company, or if you like, the complete lack of any!
Valve founder Gabe Newell’s reaction to working at Microsoft for 13 years has been to implement a ‘flat’ hierarchy within his company with all employees earning the same pay, being seen as equal and everyone taking a two week holiday together at the end of the working year. He himself is only seen as an informal boss and all decisions are discussed and decided upon diplomatically. This is certainly no dictatorship!
The office tables are on wheels so employees can simply wheel them to another part of the building if they decide to work on a different project. There is even a ‘How To Move Your Desk’ page in the company handbook with visual aids included! What projects employees work on is also optional, however because of the quite obvious care the company takes to recruit staff there is a general consensus on what needs to be worked on, otherwise if an employee tried to ‘go it alone’ they would struggle to find the necessary resources to get their job done.
Many experts frown upon the idea but for Valve, aside from a recent cull of employees, it seems to be working just fine and the company goes from strength to strength so far. For me I commend Valve for implementing this and treating it’s employes with the up-most respect by providing them with complete freedom and control. The people at Valve believe their system works because the company only employs ‘elite’ highly qualified and well paid employees, there would be obvious problems and concerns in other situations. I feel many other companies could learn certain tips from Valve about how to treat employees and make them feel valued and part of the team. Unfortunately I see the complete opposite quite a lot of the time and this is one of the main reasons I decided to work for myself!