Vancouver company would never 'junk' workplace democracy

Vancouver company would never 'junk' workplace democracy

Brian Scudamore, Katie Dunsworth, Andrea Baxter, Keely Smith, Jay Heffernan, Roman Azbul, Craig Jooste, Christina Pittman, Lindsay Peroff, Ben Houta, Pete Burgeson, Grant Bullington, Lyn Langstaff, Cameron Herold take part in a 1-800-GOT-JUNK? huddle.

If you want a democratic workplace, you need to carefully choose your employees, give them freedom and care about their concerns, says the spokesperson for the world's largest junk-removal service.

Lindsay Peroff says Vancouver-based 1-800-GOT-JUNK? operates a "flat" style of management. This, she says, is an important aspect of the company's democratic style.

"There's not a lot of hierarchy," she says.

The company employs about 2,000 people and has locations across Canada, the United States, Britain and Australia.

"We come into your home and load any junk that you want," Peroff says, in describing the business. "We do all the lifting and loading."

The junk removed from people's homes is then taken to charities or recycled.

Brian Scudamore, the company's founder and CEO, believes democracy should stay at the centre of his employee relations agenda, she says.

"As the company grows, Brian wants to ensure that it remains democratic."

When you enter the head office, affectionately called The Junction, there's a large sign that reads "It's all about the people," Peroff explains.

"All of us feel that we are a part of the company," she says. "We're able to give input and act on our own creativity. We don't have to check in every two minutes."

The most democratic practice employed at 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, Peroff says, is what's called the It's All About the People committee, or IAAP.

The IAAP committee consists of employees who keep in touch with Scudamore and update him about the needs and concerns of workers.

"Brian needs this type of committee where everybody can go and give feedback about concerns and also provide ideas."

Another democratic tool that sets 1-800-GOT-JUNK? apart from many other companies, Peroff says, is that each of its departments is in charge of hiring its own people. This, she says, ensures department get the right people for open positions.

The company makes a point of taking its time when selecting the right people for jobs. This idea is largely based on bad experiences Scudamore had when the business was in its infancy, Peroff says.

"In the early days, he brought on people too early and they weren't the right people ... it didn't work out," she says. "He admits that in his early days he fired his entire staff."

Hiring the right people is the No. 1 piece of advice the company has for anyone wishing to establish a democratic workplace, Peroff says.

"The advice that Brian would give is ensuring that when you bring someone on to fill a position, don't act quickly. Make sure you're bringing the right person on."

The company, like many others operating in the democratic realm, frowns on offices.

"We have an open-office concept," Peroff says, adding that Scudamore sits in the same space as everyone else. "Being shut indoors does not create a democratic culture."

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Writer Bio

Deron Hamel's picture
Deron Hamel

Deron joined Axiom News in March 2007, having previously worked as a news reporter for print, online and wire services. He serves as Axiom News’ long-term care pod lead, after several years of writing stories and editorials for our clients in that sector. An award-winning advocacy journalist, Deron has seen first-hand the strengths long-term care brings to the greater health-care sector and through his work he seeks to share successes and best practices.

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