Office Checklist from My Experience at Grooveshark Headquarters

Flying back now from my trip to Gainesville Florida for another meeting with one of our new partners Grooveshark. This is my second or maybe third trip to their office and I wanted to report what I’ve noticed that I think any company of any size can use as a checklist

  1. Sense of urgency: At Grooveshark everyone seems to be heads down and focused. And considering there are no walls, cubes, or even formal meeting rooms, there’s no way to duck into a “cube”  and play solitaire. Another way to measure this is the lack of sound in the office, I couldn’t almost hear a pin drop at some points. What I thought is the most interesting part is that when I was having a conversation with their management team about some cool new Livio products, people around me weren’t jumping in the conversation and getting sidetracked from their work. Amazing!
  2. The 6PM (or 11PM) roll call: at 6PM look at your office. What do you see? At 11PM (if you’re like me) peek out of your office what do you see? Tom, our director of engineering made a joke that Grooveshark’s people stay late for the food, but the fact is that work hours are for hourly workers. In a startup, there are no hours, only milestones. Perhaps me being one of the oldest people in the office might have something to do with it (… my PC way of saying these folks probably don’t have husbands, wives, kids), however I think it’s more about setting goals and letting the employees set their own hours. I like this approach with the only caveat is that you probably have to fire people quickly if they aren’t performing (no where to hide.)
  3. Awesome computers, used chairs, and shitty desks: Sounds like a title of a book but I couldn’t agree with this concept more. What’s worse that having a computer (like my wife’s 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or even 4th computer that her company gave her in the last 12 months that still takes more time to start up than it takes me to start up and get through 35 emails)… Chairs are severely overrated unless you have some sort of a medical issue. Now I do think that getting something comfortable is a must, but it doesn’t have to be new or come from a designer. And a desk… well what staff really uses them anymore, they are just a place to sit your laptop and maybe throw change into.
  4. Screens out: I’ve been using this approach since day one for staff. One of my first staff members I hired immediately wanted to reposition their desk to keep the monitor facing the back wall so “they could see people coming up”…. Right…. One of the best decisions I’ve made yet and I have no problem telling people why. Basically I don’t block any websites, but anything you have on your screen is basically public to anyone walking by. It’s still hilarious watching that person quickly click away as I walk by from time to time. Brings me back to my old days as an employee trying to fight the system.

All in all just some quick observations from the Grooveshark office and those guys definitely seem to have their act together.