If you've ever interviewed, hired, and trained a new employee, you know how time-consuming it can be. Now imagine you've found and hired the perfect person, only to have them decide that they want to work in a different department than the one you hired them for.
In most companies, this would never be an option. But Badger Maps isn't most companies.In their office, employees are free to join any projects or departments that fit their interests, regardless of what they were initially hired to do.
Badger Maps is a route planner that automates territory management for salespeople operating outdoors. Badger visualizes their sales data on a map, optimizes daily routes and schedules, and generates meeting reports. Users of Badger's app spend less time on driving and busy work.
A personal distaste for busy work may be what drove Steve Benson to launch Badger Maps. It was also a driving factor behind Badger Map's innovative workplace. We caught up with Steve Benson to learn more about what led him to offer an open workplace, the challenges it has led to, and the benefits the company has enjoyed as a result.
When Badger Maps first started, was the objective to offer employee freedom across the company or was this inspired by a problem you witnessed internally?
I didn’t plan to build Badger’s culture in this way. But as we grew I realized the value inallowing employees to be flexible. A lot of people, especially young professionals, don’t always know what the best role is for them in an organization. That is why I’ve started this different approach where I give employees exposure to different areas in the business, let them explore what they’re good at and enjoy doing, and find the best fit for them within the company.
Was this decision made because of the fast-paced industry you are in?
I made the decision to try this flexible approach because our company is growing so fast - not because of the industry we’re in. We needed people in marketing, sales, HR, and customer success all at the same time, and if headcount opens up, I’ve looked externally as well as internally to fill the gaps. I think Badger’s rapid growth has driven this decision to have employees wear multiple hats and be in different roles.
Because of this employee freedom, what are some of the biggest advantages your business has?
The biggest benefit we’ve seen is that people perform better and are more motivated and productive when they find the right fit for them in the organization and are in a role that they’re good at and enjoy doing. Because we care about every employee and help them develop, we’ve increased employees satisfaction and loyalty, and have a very low turnover rate.
Another benefit is that this strategy has helped us cross-train people. You often see that sales teams complain about the marketing department not understanding their goals and needs and vice-versa. But since employees at Badger have been in different roles, they have a better understanding.
Lastly, I think that it has helped us develop a great culture and work environment where people enjoy coming to work and can develop fulfilling careers.
What are some hurdles that have come with this type of organizational management?
It’s not necessarily efficient for a company to have an employee stop doing what they’re already trained in and good at, and move them into a different role. It takes time and effort to retrain them for the new role and at the same time, you’re losing a good person in the department they leave. There is definitely a frictional cost in moving people around within the organization. But I think that in the end, it’s worth it because of all the benefits it has brought us.
With roles and interests continually changing in the organization, what processes and software have you used to stay organized?
We use Slack to stay connected with the different teams and across our offices in Spain, San Francisco, Utah and the Philippines. It helps us to quickly communicate important updates, share files, and improve internal communication and employee engagement. Gmail and Google docs are important tools for everyone to stay organized and improve collaboration as well. We organize all documents and spreadsheets for our projects in the Google Drive and sort them by department and topic.
How often do you find employees switching roles? And what does that do for the synergies of the teams they join and leave?
We often see people switching roles early in their time at Badger. Another way we’ve seen people switch roles is that they start off in a more general role and focus into a specific area over time. Someone would come in as a general marketing person and then end up in content marketing or PR.
We often see people rethinking their direction after a month, or sometimes 3 to 6 months. It really depends on the person and how quickly they learn and find out what they enjoy doing most.
I don’t think it damages the teams they join or leave because the organization has grown to expect that kind of moving around. Sometimes people are even working in two departments at the same time, doing projects in sales and marketing for example, and then it transitions over that way.
Whether you have the ability to let your employees move around within your company's departments or not, encouraging development and a degree of freedom in the workplace can go a long way towards boosting productivity an morale.
Badger Maps is a route planner that automates territory management for outside salespeople. Badger visualizes their sales data on a map, optimizes daily routes andschedules, and generates meeting reports. The app focuses specifically on the type of salesperson who is visiting customers face-to-face - the field oroutside salesperson. It helps them solve their daily problems in minutes rather than hours, and shows them the best opportunities and leads along the way. Users spend less time on driving and busy work, and get more meetings and sales. Reps report that they drive 20% less and sell between 10% and 50% more with Badger.
Topics: Disrupting B2B