Tech company Verve lets employees choose their hours, where they work



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  • Tech firm Verve gives employees the freedom to choose
    their hours, where they work, and the meetings they attend,
    making it a millennial’s dream company.
  • Millennials, who make up the majority of Verve’s
    workforce, in general work more hours and forfeit more vacation
    days than previous generations.
  • Verve’s cofounder Callum Fergus-Fancey, a high school
    dropout, wanted to build a company culture that lets people
    work they way they work best.

 

Callum Fergus-Fancey, a 28-year-old British entrepreneur, started
his company in the basement of his parents’ West London flat.
Founded in 2014, Verve is a
software platform that lets brands recruit fans to sell tickets
to their events, in exchange for rewards like free entry and VIP
badges.

Today, Verve has raised $35 million in venture funding and grown
from about five employees to 160 across offices in London, Los
Angeles, Las Vegas, and Austin, as well as some cities in
Europe.

Despite its exponential growth, Verve’s company culture has
remained pretty much the same since its humble beginnings below
ground, Fergus-Fancey told Business Insider. Since the beginning,
Verve employees have had the freedom to choose their hours, where
they work, and the meetings they attend.

Whether or not his employees came to the office or stayed
nine hours, “that just wasn’t what I cared about,” Fergus-Fancey
said. “I cared about the value they created for our
customers.”

Millennials in general
work more hours
,
forfeit more vacation days
, and
retire much later
than previous generations. They also

make less money
than their parents did at the same age.

These conditions can result in burnout,
a lack of engagement
at work, or quitting, which is why
millennials have earned a reputation as the “job-hopping”
generation. In 2016, a
Gallup poll
revealed that 21% of millennials said they
changed jobs within the past year (more than three times the
number of non-millennials who reported the same), and 60% are
open to new opportunities.

As a result, companies are hatching creative solutions to keep
their millennial-aged workers on the company’s payroll longer,
from providing paid
time off for travel
 to
on-demand career coaching
.

Here’s what it’s really like to work at Verve

At Verve, nearly all 160 employees work out of offices scattered
around the world. According to Fergus-Fancey, a high percentage
of employees — who are mostly in their 30s — work from coffee
shops or home at least one day a week. Verve does not have set
hours or vacation days.

“Philosophically, I like people to see [the office] as a tool
rather than a place to go,” he said.

If an employee has to take off early for a dentist appointment,
Fergus-Fancey said they’re free to do so without telling their
teammates. He explained that a worker who shares where they are
at all times is “clearly projecting anxiety,” which may be a
symptom of their last job. A manager might sit them down and
explain “why they don’t need to do that here,” Fergus-Fancey
said.

The company’s culture is inspired, in part, by its cofounder’s
unusual path to startups.


Callum Fergus-Fancey, Verve
Callum Fergus-Fancey is a cofounder of
Verve.

Verve

Fergus-Fancey dropped out of high school at age 17 because he
said he didn’t fit the mold of a “cookie-cutter” education. He
didn’t enjoy learning or feel motivated to succeed.

He started a company, Let’s Go Crazy, that threw alcohol- and
drug-free dance parties for teens ages 16 to 18. He had almost no
capital, but instead used ticket sales to cover the cost of
renting clubs. (Fergus-Fancey joked of ticking off London’s club
owners for “trying to get so many underaged kids in.” But the
company also received some negative press around teens using
drugs
at his events.)

Fergus-Fancey set out to build Verve after seeing how well teens
sold other teens on attending Let’s Go Crazy events. Verge
leverages “word of mouth” to sell tickets to events, mostly music
festivals; users sell tickets to their friends in order to unlock
cool rewards like backstage access.

As an entrepreneur, Fergus-Fancy said he learned to love the
hustle and felt a new sense of purpose. He imagined a company
culture that gave people the freedom to work the way they work
best.

The flexibility around the office and hours has been a huge draw
for millennial job applicants and gives existing employees more
reason to stick around, according to Fergus-Fancey.

In a
2017 employee satisfaction survey
, 24% of Verve employees
said they completely agree that they “don’t feel judged” for
taking vacation days. One-third of employees said they agree 100%
that they “have freedom over where, when, and how [they] deliver
work.”

Fergus-Fancey said the company has had few issues with employees
abusing these perks. But when a worker misses their goals, a
manager steps in to figure out why that is.

Employees still work a lot, according to Fergus-Fancey. He said
Verve is growing quickly, and people who join the company should
understand that flexible hours doesn’t necessarily mean fewer
hours. Still, he stresses the importance of quality work over
quantity of hours worked. He tries to communicate this message in
weekly town hall meetings and company newsletters.

“In a startup environment, you’ve got a huge amount of
uncertainty and high growth,” Fergus-Fancey said. “The one thing
that gives people a sense of certainty is your culture.”

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