Can a Boss-Free Office Boost Employee Engagement?

Ilya Pozin, the founder of digital marketing agency Ciplex, introduces a compelling argument in a recent Inc. column: Institute a boss-free office to boost employee engagement and motivation. Most employees, according to Pozin, spend over one-third of each workday "doing things simply because they have to." By eliminating the rigid, top-down hierarchy in his own company, he enabled teams to self-manage and ultimately boost their own productivity.

"Individuals need to be managed, but teams manage themselves," Pozin explained. At Ciplex, he split his workforce up into teams rather than departments, and cut out the traditional reporting structure with senior and VP employees. Teams were instructed to assess their own performance at regular intervals, and employees were free to choose their own titles so long as they didn't infer a hierarchy. Salaries weren't tied to job titles, but to performance; for each new hire, Pozin essentially asked "…how much would be enough to get money off her mind."

Pozin pushed the idea of autonomy even further at Ciplex with a results-only work environment. "They will figure out on their own when they have to come in and leave, if they can take a vacation, if they can only put in two hours today or if they have to put in 14," he wrote. "If any one team member takes advantage of this new freedom, the rest of the team will vote that person off the island — 'Survivor'-style."

How do managers function in a boss-free office? Pozin says that self-policing teams need leaders rather than nitpickers, problem-solvers or referees. Such leaders offer support by asking questions effectively to help employees determine their own solutions.

What do you think of the innovative office culture at Ciplex? Would you want to work in such an environment?

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