How Hello Innovation Is Reinventing The Workplace

Posted in: Innovation, Life at H-I

When people step out of our elevators and into the Hello Innovation office, they usually have to step back for a minute and let everything around them sink in.

The loud, energetic music, the brightly colored walls with stimulating videos playing on flat screens, our excited employees running around and playing with our latest office toy. To put it short, we’re not your typical office. And to be perfectly honest, we have no desire to be.

You’ll often hear from many of our employees that the “cubicle farm” style of many traditional offices is our biggest fear here at HI. The idea feels restrictive -- as if the very layout of the office will suck the life out of any creativity that enters the space. Instead, our office features a totally open floor plan, where the only doors you will find lead to the bathrooms, the elevator outside, our 3 “quiet-space” meeting rooms (that are rarely ever used), and my own office.

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And while my office is one of the few with a door, you will most often find me out on one of the computers in our main room, working alongside our employees and bouncing creative ideas back and forth for feedback.

In nearly every single way, Hello Innovation is changing the idea of a “traditional office job.” We strive to ensure that our employees love coming to work every day and that they are following the paths that they are passionate about. We care more about doing things that we love more than making money from them. And we believe that this “reinvention of the workplace” is what has made us successful.

Here are just a few ways in which are breaking out from the traditional office work routine:

We Only Create Things We’re Passionate About

When the topic of VC funding came up in the early days of HI, one of my biggest fears was potentially losing control over what we do and answering to money-driven investors. Therefore, I rejected every offer that came our way in favor of being able to pursue awesome opportunities that we wanted to work on. But still, I asked myself, “Am I crazy for being the only guy who isn’t taking VC funding?”

In our early days especially, when I was still living at home at the age of 26 and reinvesting every dollar I had back into the company and our people, I didn’t know if we were going to make it. But it forced us to innovate and, even more so, it gave us the freedom to not have to answer to investors. Now we get to wake up every day doing something we love, not what an investor wants to see. Our success is now our financial return.

Bottom line – if we’re not passionate about an idea, we don’t pursue it. And if we really enjoy something, we try to make it a part of what we do. Another case in point of that is Hello Aerial.

When we first began flying aerial drones around Detroit, it was never with the intention to create a new business. Instead, we were just really excited about how fun these right-out-of-the-box drones were, and considered them our favorite new office toy… until we hooked a Go-Pros up to them and were blown away with the footage. Before we knew it, our $60 drone turned into a $600 drone, and then into $6500. We began hiring some of the top aerial experts in the world, top Hollywood film professionals, a robotics team and more, all so that we could take these content creating machines and help inspire people. Show people things that they could have only dreamed of before. Sure, it started with a simple hobby drone, but not it has moved to air, land and sea, and we are working alongside companies like Ford to bring our footage to the world.

If we wouldn’t have explored the potential of this passion project of ours and, instead, wrote drones off as a simple “toy”, we would have never created Hello Aerial. And if we would have teamed up with a VC firm, they would have probably never let us invest the money into building a state-of-the-art aerial drone fleet just because we enjoyed it. If only all companies were allowed to take these kinds of risks, they might find lucrative new business avenues they have never explored before!

Business Casual Is Too Stuffy For Us

I don’t think there is anyone that dislikes the idea of a “corporate wardrobe” more than me. Ask anyone else in the office – I’m a t-shirt, jeans and converse kind of guy. It’s what I am most comfortable in, and when I am most comfortable, I can do my best work. Therefore, there is no kind of dress code here at our office. It simply feels wrong to restrict creative, inspired minds into slacks and dress shirts every day. Instead, our office is filled with people in comic book shirts, jeans, hoodies and lots and lots of Detroit sports-wear. (What can we say? We’re a proud city!)

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We Don’t Care Where or How Your Work Gets Done, As Long As You Do It

Just as we reject the traditional office look and feel, we also push against the idea that everyone must work the traditional 9am-5pm schedule every single day. When you work in an office full of creative people – from design, to film, to marketing, to engineers – you are never going to have everyone at their “productivity peak” during the same office hours. That’s why we encourage employees to work whenever they work best. For some, this is coming in extra early, while others enjoy being the lone night owl with the office to themselves.

Also, if you enjoy working outside, laying down on the hammock, working in a quiet work room, or playing techno music at full blast, go for it! We offer all of those work environments in our office (along with traditional office desks if that’s more your style). As long as your work gets done when it is supposed to, we’re not really concerned with how you got there. Having this kind of open office and unrestrictive schedule gives our employees much more room to be creative and fully explore their ideas, rather than forcing them to spark creativity within a set amount of time.

We Practice The “TGIF” Mindset Every Day

If you love what you do every day, it will never be considered work. Our company culture encourages people to have fun in their environment, be surrounded by motivation and inspiration, and love what they do. In turn, this creates a workplace that you can’t help but enjoy. To further encourage the good vibes, we stock our fridge full of ice cream, beer, snacks and all kinds of other goodies that help our employees enjoy their environment and have fun with their day. Plus, our game area is the perfect place to blow off steam if you do run into the everyday stresses of work. (Nothing a little foosball can’t fix!)

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We Genuinely Care About Our Employees

When you sit down for a job interview, there is always one question that you are likely to get from your potential employer: “What can you do for us?” However, here at HI, we are much more interested in the answer to the question, “What can we do for you?”

We are always interested in hiring passionate, enthusiastic, talented people who can create awesome sh*t, rather than people who know just what to say in a job interview. Why? Because, when given the right tools and the right environment, we know that the passionate people will excel far more than anyone else, even if they don’t have the most experience or history. So we choose to hire people who are excited to go to work every day and who are passionate about creating things that will make an impact. Next, we arm them with the tools they need to do so.

Along the same lines, we constantly make sure that our employees are happy with what they are doing and excited about the work they are producing – not just in their first 6 months on the job. If your interests may have changed, we are happy to let you explore new ideas and try tackling new projects so we can help you fit those interests into your job. If you are feeling stressed or burned out, we encourage you to get outside, go walk around, take a break, take a vacation, etc.

We understand that our employees are the single most important aspect of our business – after all, good ideas come from good people – therefore, their happiness and health is the thing we care about most. It’s this philosophy which has also put into motion our “no assholes policy” here at the office, which protects our amazing environment and employees from people who go against our culture. Especially because culture is something you cannot discount or replace.

If you want to come work alongside a company that truly values your enthusiasm and ideas, enjoys what they do and makes passion a priority, check out our 30+ job openings at Hello Innovation! We are constantly looking for rock star employees to come join our team and make our office even better!

2 comments

  • Patricia Goode
    October 25, 2014

    This is fascinating! Sounds like a place I would like to be.
    Way to go and I’ll be looking for more posts.

    • Rilee Chastain Rilee Chastain
      October 27, 2014

      Thanks, Patricia! Glad you enjoyed it : )

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