BLOOMINGTON, Minn. - Imagine working at a company where the employer asks YOU what hours you prefer to work, what you want your work space to look like and if you would like to bring your dog to the office everyday.
Sound like nirvana? Actually, it's called The Nerdery.
The main requirement for getting hired at The Nerdery is that you have to be a bonified nerd, aka an IT whiz. From designers to developers, these "creative technologists" are the cream of the crop.
CEO and co-founder Mike Derheim created the Bloomington based IT and interactive production company based on partnering creative minds with compelling problems to solve. He and co-founders Luke Bucklin (who was tragically killed in a plane crash) and Mike Schmidt started their dream business based on the philosophy that people do their best work when they're happy.
It's a simple concept that has paid off, says Mike Derheim. "If people love their jobs and love what they're doing, and are happy with their jobs and feel that they understand that, ultimately, everything that makes a business successful will improve."
To really understand what makes The Nerdery tick, you have to experience it in person. What seems like controlled chaos is actually a 50,000 square foot space filled with creative minds at work. Whether they're sitting under a fake palm tree, standing in a cube or playing an interactive board game, employees do what inspires them most to get their work done. And then there's the mandatory Friday afternoon Happy Hour on site. Just another perk…
Perhaps the best news of all is that the Nerdery is successful by all accounts. They're a nearly $40 million company with three offices around the country. The Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal recently named them the #1 best place to work in Minnesota.
With a staff made up mostly of millennials, it appears that Derheim has cracked the code for this generation of alternative workers.
"It's not a complicated idea, but I would think it's one that's becoming more important because the next generation of workers is expecting that type of experience."
Clients and staff work as partners, not vendors and every employee has the same title: co-president. While not every company can run this way, the formula here is clearly working.
"The reality is that every single person in the world wants to do a good job, be good at it and feel like they're doing something at the end of the day. So why micromanage, why not create an environment where they can achieve that?"