Jeffrey Fermin is cofounder of Officevibe, an employee engagement platform that encourages collaboration through team building activities. When he’s not working on his product, he spends the majority of his time reading, writing and meeting new people.
Why does the world need a work revolution? (In other words: the way we’re working isn’t working. Why not?)
I think the way that we work is completely flawed. For most people, going to work seems to be a strenuous tasks that is both mentally and physically taxing. Work shouldn’t be dreary, it’s supposed to be something that an individual is supposed to be passionate about.
How are you or your organization reinventing work in some way (big or small)?
We’re working on an employee engagement platform that encourages collaboration within the office. The real goal is to reinvent the way people work and to make offices a lot more fun, productive, and interactive.
Why do you do what you do?
I like to believe that we’re helping fix a huge problem. I think that people are too stressed at work, and they don’t necessarily feel at home when they’re at work. I would love nothing more than to make people enjoy themselves and take pride in their job/workplace.
What kind of art (any kind) do you like and why? Any recommendations we should know about?
Lately I’ve liked what the Hugh Macleod is doing at Gaping Void. He is able to relay the same message that me and the folks at Officevibe are trying to get out, in a nice, fun, and stylish way. It is really simple and pleasing to the eye, and I think that everyone who has worked in the corporate world can relate to it.
What is one specific thing your company does that makes your culture unique and/or different?
I think the creative freedom and autonomy that we give each other is amazing. We come up with tasks every two weeks that we come up with and want to do. I guess you can go as far as saying that everyone does what they want… as long as it’s bettering the company and helping us grow, we’re all for it.
What is one discipline/industry totally different from your own that has inspired you? How does it impact your work?
I think that we’re really influenced by Shopify and Zappos. They are both in the e-commerce industry and in talking with them we found that they’re extremely forward thinking with their “people operations” and how they handle their company culture. They have designated positions to better their employee life… and we absolutely love it. Hopefully, we’re able to grow a bit more and have similar departments within our company, which we’ll use as somewhat of an R&D department for our platform.
What’s one tangible and concrete technique other organizations should use if they want to create a more human and/or meaningful place to work?
I am a huge believer in flat hierarchy, which is basically the concept of eliminating the traditional pyramid organizational structure, and giving everybody the same amount of responsibility and pull in decision-making. We’ve done research on companies that practice this type of management (and learned about them at the Work Revolution Summit), and seen that they tend to have happier and more productive employees. I think if more companies practiced this technique it will only benefit them and their employees.
What piece of technology (other than your laptop/smartphone/tablet) could you not live without and why?
I definitely can’t go without my laptop. I always have it ready to go in my backpack and I carry it almost everywhere I go. Whenever I feel inspired to read, write, or learn something new, I have it readily available. One of the beauties of working in a startup is that you’re always working, even when you’re not at the office. So I like sharing and getting my ideas out there as quick as possible. I could do the same type of work in my cell phone, but I find looking at the small screen a bit stressful… plus, it can get a bit distracting looking at text messages.
What does your preferred work environment look like?
The physical space itself would have to be very open and free. I don’t like cubicles and I don’t like being in a small offices or desks cramped with a lot paper. I have a nice stand up desk and all my work is done on my laptop. It’s safe to say that I haven’t printed anything in over a year and a half (a streak that I intend on extending for a lot longer), so I think a paper-free workplace would be ideal. Although our accountant would probably not like that. Other than that, the people have to be absolutely wonderful. I’d like to be surrounded by like-minded individuals with big goals. My cofounder and I have been blessed to work in different startup incubators and now an awesome office with a lot of great people. So we’ve always loved the people around us as they’ve helped us grow our product, but more importantly, our minds!
How do you stay productive throughout your day?
I work in 25 minute intervals. So I go all out for 25 minutes and then I kick back and relax for 5-10 minutes. Which gives me plenty of time to catch up on different things that interest me. Whether it’s sports, entertainment, tech, and startup news. I also check in on my colleagues every now and then, just to keep things lax. We’re always busy and working on something, so it’s always good to catch up and see what we’re up to. I also take a lot of time to really get away from my computer. It can get a little hectic looking at a screen for a long period of time, so I do my best to go outside and go for a walk. I think my peers and I are able to get a lot of work done because we have a fairly lax attitude, and we’re very result-oriented. We operate like a well-oiled machine, when we’re all working efficiently, we’re unstoppable!
Where in the world are you?
Right now, I’m operating remotely out of the lovely city of Miami, FL. However, the Officevibe HQ is based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.