The common mantra of Burning Man attendees is that you don’t understand it until you’ve attended. And, an increasing number of tech industry practitioners are “getting it.”
The annual gathering of approximately 70,000 that congregate at a dried up river bed in the Nevada desert has welcomed some of the industry’s most esteemed players. Including the CEOs and founders of Google, Amazon, Reddit, Tesla, Facebook, Uber, Dropbox, WordPress and many more. Though often portrayed in the media as somewhere between a temporary hippie commune and drug-fueled escapism, the event is becoming recognized for its ability to improve attendees’ creativity, ability to collaborate and mindfulness year-round.
Now, software providers like VMware are focused on creating a suite of tools that enable the same level of creativity and connectivity that appears on full display each summer in the Nevada desert
10 Principals to Live By
The 10 principals that event founders disseminate to attendees seem ripped right from the handbooks of Silicon Valley campuses. However, the more than 30-year old event outdates many of the bay areas technology companies (and many of its modern-day attendees). Those principals include a commitment to “radical” inclusion, self-expression and self-reliance. It also speaks to civic responsibility, participation and leaving no trace behind.
“As long as you are beholden to those principles, you can do what works for you, and I think that has been really successful; it’s changing the way people look, the way they play, the way they work and it lets them look at life differently,” Burning Man founder Crimson Rose recently told The Globe and Mail.
Inspiring a Culture of Creative Collaboration
The spirit of these ten principles explained Ms. Rose, result in incredible temporary art structures and collaborative projects.
“If you’ve got a crazy idea, you will find other people to help support you in doing that,” she said. “Now that some of the artwork is 20, 30, 40, 50 feet high, you need an engineer, you need an architect, you need to bring together a team and they’ve got to be drawn to your idea.”
Ms. Rose adds that such works inspire collaboration between strangers in pursuit of a common goal, something business leaders try to inspire in their teams every day.
Keeping the Fire Burning
Tech-industry attendees often describe how the event helps them work more collaboratively and with an open-mind year-round. However, the spirit of the event and the inspiration it provides can be quickly quashed by organizations that are ill-equipped or unable to provide a workplace that allows such creative flourish.
Though the industry as a whole invites this sort of thinking on paper, and actively recruits those who showcase a commitment to collaboration and creativity, many fail to foster a culture that allows them to flourish.
The desire to work on their own terms is not limited to Burning Man alumni. A recent study conducted by us, titled Death of the Desk Job, found that 78 percent of employees highly value the ability to access work from outside the office. And, 70 percent would leave their job for one that offers more workday flexibility, including the ability to work remotely more often.
Open Minds Need Open Systems
Enabling this new standard of workplace freedom and flexibility requires a rethink of how enterprise IT systems are organized. Which can be intimidating for senior leaders.
Vital as this new standard is for attracting employees, many enterprise IT teams have built their systems from scratch. And, rebuilding them to accommodate this new work culture can feel daunting.
Though it may seem costly and complicated a variety of tools are now available to aid the transition to a more nimble workforce. They can even stand to save organizations in the long run through greater automation.
For example, IT teams typically manage a range of dashboards for various solutions, but unifying those systems can lead to a more efficient utilization of resources. VMware Horizon, for example, can transform a patchwork system into an automated, cloud-enabled, mobile-ready platform managed in a single workspace. Furthermore, VMware Workspace One, in tandem with VMware Airwatch, can enable this software-defined data center to operate on any application, on any device, and from anywhere.
VMware Workspace ONE also utilizes integrated identity management, real-time application delivery, and enterprise mobility management to engage digital employees. This, in turn, reduces the threat of data leakage and modernizes traditional IT operations for the mobile-cloud era.
From the Desert to the (Home) Office
The teetering lighthouses, alien spaceships, multicolored dragons and dismantled 747 aren’t just incredible temporary art structures; they’re impressive feats of human ingenuity, creativity, and collaboration. Showcasing what people are capable of when the only limitation is their own imagination.
Providing that same level of freedom in the workplace—where employees can innovate, experiment and collaborate seamlessly—only requires the removal of traditional barriers. Those looking to get started on transforming their workplace can begin by following VMware’s 3-part strategy guide. It will walk them through the specific device- and user-based policy considerations, outline critical areas for content access, security practices, and compliance rules and provide suggestions for how to design a comprehensive rollout schedule.