At DreamHost one thing is very clear, “motivation leads to more productive employees and it is fostered by organizational democracy”. 

DreamHostDreamHost is one of our fellow honorees in the WorldBlu list of Most Democratic Workplaces 2009. In this interview, Dallas Kashuba, Co-founder and CTO, explains how workplace democracy works within the company.   

Nearsoft: Can you tell us in your own words what is DreamHost about?

Dallas Kashuba: DreamHost aims to make it easy for anybody to have a website with all the bells and whistles of the modern web.

Nearsoft: While I was learning about your company, I saw the phrase “We’re Special” on your website. Can you tell us what makes the company unique?

DK: We are primarily driven by our employees and their own interests.  We generally only support technologies that we want to use ourselves, and that makes everyone’s jobs a lot more fun.  When people are having fun they do a better job and that comes through in our service.

Nearsoft: What has been the most democratic moment at DreamHost? Any other democratic practice that you would like to talk about?

DK: We just recently changed our pay policy for lunches after a company-wide discussion.  We switched from not paying for lunch time to paying for it.  That means people can now work a half hour less each day than before, if they choose.  They can also choose to work the same amount as before but get paid for an extra half hour of work.  We think that extra bit of freedom will be a motivator and will make up for the potential loss in hours worked.

Nearsoft: What has been the impact of being a Democratic Workplace within the company?

DK: Our employees are more motivated and participate in the process of setting the goals and the direction of the company.  A worker that enjoys his or her job will do better work and that has a feedback loop effect on the rest of the company.

Nearsoft: What has been the external impact of being a Democratic Company?

DK: We’ve made some great friends with other like-minded companies and some of those may turn into long-term partnerships down the road.    Hopefully we can set an example and encourage other companies to adopt organizational democracy.

Nearsoft: What are the benefits that your customers get thanks to your democratic approach?

DK: Our customers can join in our democratic approach through our customer suggestions.  Our customers can suggest things they’d like to see us implement and then vote on them as a group.  We try to implement things on the top of that list before anything else.

Nearsoft: As for the employee profiles that are published on your website, what is the idea behind posting pictures from when they were kids?

DK: We did that when we were celebrating our 11th birthday as a company.  Some wise-guy thought it’d be fun to put up pictures of ourselves when we were 11 years old (or so).

Nearsoft: Is there something in particular that you would like to add to our conversation?

DK: I’d like to see companies refocus their thinking about success.  The success of the whole company should only be considered as a product of the combined success of the individuals within the company.  The organization itself should not be considered a success unless everyone within the organization feels personally successful.

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