A New Way of Working

Posted ago by Baron

On December 21st, Ben Kaufman sent the following email to the collective Quirky staff:

“Quirky is a high pressure atmosphere. We push the absolute limits of every single day we have. Doodling, Breaking, Building, Shipping, Prettying, Counting, Labeling, Collaborating, Coding, Inventing.

The result of our way of working is astonishing. Output from small, resource constrained teams on short sprints that large organizations could only dream of.

Three products, every single week. After each there is another.

The side effect of running such an incredible machine at the speed we do is a group of very fatigued, highly creative operators.

In the machine of Making Invention Accessible, we leave no time for catching our breath.

Every good machine needs time to get tuned up/re-calibrated.

Enter:  A (experimental) new way of working…

We’ve found that our cadence as a business is very centered around 90 day sprints. Retail seems to have 4 major seasons, our best products seem to be baked in 90 day time frames, the longest we can lock in tactical plans without completely guessing as to what products we will be talking about/investing in is quarterly.

Pressure slowly builds throughout these 90 day periods, culminating in an extremely stressful and magically productive final 2-3 weeks of a calendar quarter. It’s been this way for 3 years.

Historically, we’ve jumped right back into it. But beginning in 2013, the first week of every new calendar quarter will be lights out.

We are going to shut down the entire machine for 4 weeks next year. Instead of running for 52, it will run for 48.

This is a full, mandatory shutdown of all internal activities. Lights out. Deep breath.

Time for us to explore other creative interests. Relax without worrying about what we’re missing. Time for us to get our head back into the game. For some of us, time for us to clean our apartments, see the dentist, and buy a new pair of kicks.

A time where all of us as a team can all relax simultaneously and know that there is nothing to worry about. A time for us to reflect on the successes and failures of the prior quarter, and prepare mentally for the one to come.

At Quirky we strongly believe in judging output, and not input. We think that absolutely amazing things can happen in the most unconventional of ways-  this is what has led us to build this machine in the first place. We will be launching many more products in 2013 then we did this year, even with this new schedule in place.

We are intent on building a business and culture that endures. Running this machine for a few years will not Make Invention Accessible… Setting it up in a sustainable way so that it can run for decades to come is key to accomplishing our mission.

This time is not meant to be a replacement to our current vacation policy, but instead a supplement to it. You’ll note the days which fall under this policy do not always coincide with school calendars, major holidays when you might want to travel home, etc… Our “you’re an adult, take whatever time off you need to live a happy life, see your family, maintain at the top of your game” policy prevails.

We are really interested to see how this works. Our thesis is centered around the fact that this will lead to better work, more beautiful products, and an emotionally balanced team.

Should we all feel it doesn’t-  we reserve the right to go back to our old ways.

I personally believe this is a great and exciting way for the machine to endure. Please see the attached revised 2013 calendar which shows days the office will be closed.

Happy breath taking.”

So what does this mean for the Quirky community as a whole? Well, starting Monday, December 31st at 4pm EST, all regularly-scheduled activity at the office will cease, including phone/email support, Wednesday brainstorms, Feedback Friday, and Thursday’s live product evaluation. We will return to our normal weekly schedule on the following Monday (January 7th), renewed and ready to redouble our efforts in pursuit of accessible invention. However, between the 1st and the 7th, the lights will be out at QHQ.

We’ll be releasing more information on the shutdown in the coming days, so  keep your eyes on our Twitter and Facebook pages. For now however, we recommend that you mark your calendars, and maybe plan a little breather of your own. You’ve totally earned it!

Comments (122)

Michael Kloeckner
Well deserved for sure!
David Veshapidze
Wow. Radically innovative. Great job guys!
Kat Devlon
Love this idea! It would be awesome if this "works"! Perhaps many other companies will follow your lead! Cheers!
Mary Quillin
Good to see that your inventing a schedule to reflect an innovative way of looking at business.
Denyveaus Sells
Enjoy!
Reese Hardin
Thrifty
pardy on wayne...
PoeticJustice1
Enjoy, and come back fresh.
Baconesto
Enjoy your Vacations! Happy New Year to everyone! I'll be watching the ball drop!
Manuel Q. Plascencia
Yes we don't want to burn out the machine. : )
Clinton Fleenor
Good for you. You deserve a party too.
Kevin Ammons
Enjoy the time off! kda
JonesAndJones
What a smart choice. Happy New Year everyone!
Paulette Jaques
Rest up! You all deserve it very much! Thanks you for all your hard work!!
Andrew Agate
I hope you all enjoy your well deserved time off. Happy New Year to all of you.
Michael Kloeckner
Well deserved for sure!
Leo
You all deserve it!
Lorin's Eggshells
I think that is a brilliant idea and what a thoughtful thing to do for your employees, perhaps you will start a trend with other companies. Have a wonderful week & can't wait to see what happens with a newly energized Q :D
ElanaG
This sounds WONDERFUL. PLEASE- How about A BREAK ON SUBBING NEW IDEATIONS, too- so that EVERYONE gets a breather? Then I can actually go out and see the light of day w/out fear that I'll miss the next better mousetrap?
ElanaG
The other advantage of a BREAK ON SUBMISSIONS too would be that you won't have to deal with a HUGE backlog when you get back!
Melissa_
Amazing job this year! Enjoy your time!
Heather O'Donahoe
Party on!!
Robert Panerio
Great idea! Recharge the batteries and get the creative juices flowing again. Have a relaxing week.
David Veshapidze
Wow. Radically innovative. Great job guys!
Kat Devlon
Love this idea! It would be awesome if this "works"! Perhaps many other companies will follow your lead! Cheers!
Mary Quillin
Good to see that your inventing a schedule to reflect an innovative way of looking at business.
Naomi Adams
Great plan...ground lying fallow for rest periods equals greater harvests for the long haul...find 24 more days of rest and your have a perfect one a week average...lots of good outcomes from that formula. I am super excited to see great things that will happen at Quirky in 2013:)!
Michael Mattox
Long, Long, Long overdue maties. Try some mandatory daily breaks as well. Happy and creative new year!
Denyveaus Sells
Enjoy!
ElizaBacon Wingfield
I think this sounds like a great idea, and agree that a week's break on submissions and voting would be great, too. Let's find a way to freeze time there, too.
George Scott
I like it! Voted GL! :-)
Anthony Lemus
This is awesome. What a way to run a business and take care of people. It will be interesting to observe the impacts from this.
Peter A. Wachtel
Relax, Enjoy, and smell the Flowers...
Yolanda Jackson
Woohoo :)
Striker
Sounds like a plan?????
stazy
What a great idea! Everyone could use a week off a few times of the year. Maybe Q will be setting a precedent for other companies. Enjoy the time and stay safe. Happy New Year!
Susan Saver
Everybody needs a break to load up the battery like I call it, and then go at it again with a new flash of energy. Wishing you all a very Happy New Year and may all your wishes come true.
Reese Hardin
Reese Hardin
I think the idea is great for all the Quirky employees. It gives you time to rest, think about things you want to do, and, will make for a better business.
Stephen Bozzone
Ben you are quite the leader.
Robert Lukach
Great idea Ben!All of you have been "at it" for three solid years and now is the time for QHQ to reinvest in its' most valuable asset-its' people and their creative spirit! I know the result will be a more positive and appreciative group of creative energy. Bravo!!!
Damael
Quirky's staffs are DREAM MAKERS and they need to rest too.
Thrifty
pardy on wayne...
Don Darnell
Enjoy the time off. You all have earned it. I and other Quirky community old timers have been feeding the Quirky machine for years and also appreciate the break. Looking forward to the restart in 2013.
ManicInventor
"We push the absolute limits of every single day we have. Doodling, Breaking, Building, Shipping, Prettying, Counting, Labeling, Collaborating, Coding, Inventing. " (so who cleans the bathroom then ??) great post Ben. Cool attitude that will pay dividends.
Frank Langford
I wish my company gave me an extra week off a quarter. :(
Active-DS
You’ve totally earned it also! I wish all Quirky teams a new power and a new ideas in the New Year. :)
Rob Vanacore
I think you are a very generous CEO Ben....but business is business. I'm hoping you can pull it off. Just one week shut down will cost approx. $70,000 in payroll ($280k for four weeks) In addition to sales loss and pissed off customers....Will Q be able to recoup this loss through out the rest of the year? I hope so....Good luck!
PoeticJustice1
Enjoy, and come back fresh.
uniqueideas
What a great way to end 2012 after a year of seeing Quirky "rise to the occasion" in so many ways, look forward to seeing what is in store for 2013 for Ben, Quirky staff & community. Congrats & Happy New Year!
Gyro
Most successful companies have paid attention to relaxing. Working on stressful conditions eventually breaks any well oiled machine. I think that the ROI for the time will be easily justified by super productive bursts when they come back. Great way to start 2013, happy new year.... Ben, do you have any openings ?
Rick J
- An Outstanding Work Ethic Decision -
Leo
jealous....my boss never does this. Ben is awesome!
Deepthinker
Great Idea, Have a Happy New Year
Ben Kaufman
Thanks guys- This wasn't just me-- It was really pushed by JJ and Nikki. I think it will be great- very interested in seeing the results.
Coleen Fuller
I have been amazed at what this company does each and every day. All the ideas, tags, names, ect...No one must be sitting around there. Enjoy the time off.
StorbinC
wow what a fwd thinking ideal. we are going to shut down 4 times a year for 1 week intervals so our employees can live life, in addition to giving you your normal time off you need to take care of family and other stuf you need. I like this operating model. the real question is will the consumer accept this?
Ruben Brito
Ben, this balanced approach is beautiful. Love the thoughtfulness of the new work structure.
CTbreeze
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, I shall be waiting for your return with baited breath...relax, n joy !
Baconesto
Enjoy your Vacations! Happy New Year to everyone! I'll be watching the ball drop!
L_P_
Peace. :)
Thrifty
I predict a whole rash of Baby inspired inventions :)
Pushkin
Way to go, JJ and Nikki. Ben, you're wise to listen to them. Enjoy the break, and recharge your creative energy.
ManicInventor
Having real success in business can only come alongside truly valuing the staff that make it what it is. Enjoy the break guys -
Constantine
Peace, rest and renewed prosperity for the New Year!
Sebastien Lauzon
Happy new year and have some good rest! I hope 2013 will be a great year for Quirky!
Thomas Sondreal
I'm new to the Quirky way of work but I see its process as revolutionary. It makes sense examining new ways to increase efficiencies in your human resources while rewarding them as well. Best of Business 2013 to All.
Tony Fuentes
I wanna work at quirky now. The boss is cool.
Manuel Q. Plascencia
Yes we don't want to burn out the machine. : )
Clinton Fleenor
Good for you. You deserve a party too.
Kevin Ammons
Enjoy the time off! kda
JonesAndJones
What a smart choice. Happy New Year everyone!
Paulette Jaques
Rest up! You all deserve it very much! Thanks you for all your hard work!!
Andrew Agate
I hope you all enjoy your well deserved time off. Happy New Year to all of you.
Leo
You all deserve it!
Lorin's Eggshells
I think that is a brilliant idea and what a thoughtful thing to do for your employees, perhaps you will start a trend with other companies. Have a wonderful week & can't wait to see what happens with a newly energized Q :D
ElanaG
This sounds WONDERFUL. PLEASE- How about A BREAK ON SUBBING NEW IDEATIONS, too- so that EVERYONE gets a breather? Then I can actually go out and see the light of day w/out fear that I'll miss the next better mousetrap?
ElanaG
The other advantage of a BREAK ON SUBMISSIONS too would be that you won't have to deal with a HUGE backlog when you get back!
Melissa_
Amazing job this year! Enjoy your time!
Heather O'Donahoe
Party on!!
Robert Panerio
Great idea! Recharge the batteries and get the creative juices flowing again. Have a relaxing week.
Naomi Adams
Great plan...ground lying fallow for rest periods equals greater harvests for the long haul...find 24 more days of rest and your have a perfect one a week average...lots of good outcomes from that formula. I am super excited to see great things that will happen at Quirky in 2013:)!
Michael Mattox
Long, Long, Long overdue maties. Try some mandatory daily breaks as well. Happy and creative new year!
ElizaBacon Wingfield
I think this sounds like a great idea, and agree that a week's break on submissions and voting would be great, too. Let's find a way to freeze time there, too.
George Scott
I like it! Voted GL! :-)
Anthony Lemus
This is awesome. What a way to run a business and take care of people. It will be interesting to observe the impacts from this.
Peter A. Wachtel
Relax, Enjoy, and smell the Flowers...
Yolanda Jackson
Woohoo :)
Striker
Sounds like a plan?????
stazy
What a great idea! Everyone could use a week off a few times of the year. Maybe Q will be setting a precedent for other companies. Enjoy the time and stay safe. Happy New Year!
Susan Saver
Everybody needs a break to load up the battery like I call it, and then go at it again with a new flash of energy. Wishing you all a very Happy New Year and may all your wishes come true.
Reese Hardin
I think the idea is great for all the Quirky employees. It gives you time to rest, think about things you want to do, and, will make for a better business.
Stephen Bozzone
Ben you are quite the leader.
Robert Lukach
Great idea Ben!All of you have been "at it" for three solid years and now is the time for QHQ to reinvest in its' most valuable asset-its' people and their creative spirit! I know the result will be a more positive and appreciative group of creative energy. Bravo!!!
Damael
Quirky's staffs are DREAM MAKERS and they need to rest too.
Franklin Bejarano Muñoz
Ben, you truly understand the workings behind employee motivation. This certainly is the scientifically correct way to engage and motivate creative employees, and it shows in your results. Making it the dream company to work for, at the same time being a serious business with goals and more than enough work to get done. Sense of ownership, engagement, and work/life balance is what you are creating. Highly productive creatives, better working environment and quality/productivity is what you get in return. Q staff, congrats for having a great leader. Make it work, you and the company deserve this. Ben, my respect for developing (or just born with it?) such leadership and management skills in such a short period of your life, really an inspiration.
Don Darnell
Enjoy the time off. You all have earned it. I and other Quirky community old timers have been feeding the Quirky machine for years and also appreciate the break. Looking forward to the restart in 2013.
ManicInventor
"We push the absolute limits of every single day we have. Doodling, Breaking, Building, Shipping, Prettying, Counting, Labeling, Collaborating, Coding, Inventing. " (so who cleans the bathroom then ??) great post Ben. Cool attitude that will pay dividends.
Frank Langford
I wish my company gave me an extra week off a quarter. :(
Active-DS
You’ve totally earned it also! I wish all Quirky teams a new power and a new ideas in the New Year. :)
Rob Vanacore
I think you are a very generous CEO Ben....but business is business. I'm hoping you can pull it off. Just one week shut down will cost approx. $70,000 in payroll ($280k for four weeks) In addition to sales loss and pissed off customers....Will Q be able to recoup this loss through out the rest of the year? I hope so....Good luck!
uniqueideas
What a great way to end 2012 after a year of seeing Quirky "rise to the occasion" in so many ways, look forward to seeing what is in store for 2013 for Ben, Quirky staff & community. Congrats & Happy New Year!
Gyro
Most successful companies have paid attention to relaxing. Working on stressful conditions eventually breaks any well oiled machine. I think that the ROI for the time will be easily justified by super productive bursts when they come back. Great way to start 2013, happy new year.... Ben, do you have any openings ?
Rick J
- An Outstanding Work Ethic Decision -
Leo
jealous....my boss never does this. Ben is awesome!
Deepthinker
Great Idea, Have a Happy New Year
Ben Kaufman
Thanks guys- This wasn't just me-- It was really pushed by JJ and Nikki. I think it will be great- very interested in seeing the results.
Coleen Fuller
I have been amazed at what this company does each and every day. All the ideas, tags, names, ect...No one must be sitting around there. Enjoy the time off.
StorbinC
wow what a fwd thinking ideal. we are going to shut down 4 times a year for 1 week intervals so our employees can live life, in addition to giving you your normal time off you need to take care of family and other stuf you need. I like this operating model. the real question is will the consumer accept this?
Ruben Brito
Ben, this balanced approach is beautiful. Love the thoughtfulness of the new work structure.
CTbreeze
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, I shall be waiting for your return with baited breath...relax, n joy !
L_P_
Peace. :)
Thrifty
I predict a whole rash of Baby inspired inventions :)
Pushkin
Way to go, JJ and Nikki. Ben, you're wise to listen to them. Enjoy the break, and recharge your creative energy.
ManicInventor
Having real success in business can only come alongside truly valuing the staff that make it what it is. Enjoy the break guys -
Constantine
Peace, rest and renewed prosperity for the New Year!
Sebastien Lauzon
Happy new year and have some good rest! I hope 2013 will be a great year for Quirky!
Thomas Sondreal
I'm new to the Quirky way of work but I see its process as revolutionary. It makes sense examining new ways to increase efficiencies in your human resources while rewarding them as well. Best of Business 2013 to All.
Tony Fuentes
I wanna work at quirky now. The boss is cool.
Danilo Dias
Hey guys, it's been almost exactly one year since the email went out. Are you planning on keeping the 48-week year or are you making other changes? How do you feel about the results? Did it help with personnel moral?
Franklin Bejarano Muñoz
Ben, you truly understand the workings behind employee motivation. This certainly is the scientifically correct way to engage and motivate creative employees, and it shows in your results. Making it the dream company to work for, at the same time being a serious business with goals and more than enough work to get done. Sense of ownership, engagement, and work/life balance is what you are creating. Highly productive creatives, better working environment and quality/productivity is what you get in return. Q staff, congrats for having a great leader. Make it work, you and the company deserve this. Ben, my respect for developing (or just born with it?) such leadership and management skills in such a short period of your life, really an inspiration.
Danilo Dias
Hey guys, it's been almost exactly one year since the email went out. Are you planning on keeping the 48-week year or are you making other changes? How do you feel about the results? Did it help with personnel moral?
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