BBC World News Horizons explores strategies that could revolutionise our working lives

If you look at the companies that are actually flourishing in the world today, those that have come into being in the last 10 or 15 years, they are companies that live and breathe the idea of human potential."Chip Conley, Founder, Joie de Vivre Hotels
Date: 29.11.2012     Last updated: 18.03.2014 at 17.55
Category: BBC World News
In the 19th episode of the Horizons series, presenters Adam Shaw and Saima Mohsin head to the West Coast and Silicon Valley in the US, and Beijing, China to look at the strategies that could revolutionise our working lives.

They discover how Chinese employers are evolving to stay ahead, how an American company has successfully adopted the ideas of a famous psychologist and how a new office robot could allow employees to work anywhere.

Saima heads to the West Coast of the US to meet Chip Conley, founder of the Joie de Vivre Hotel chain. When the dot com bubble burst over a decade ago, Conley went in search of a new business model, drawing on psychologist Abraham Maslow and his focus on answering human needs – from esteem to self-actualisation.

Conley has used his methods to run the hotel chain successfully and today it’s one of the largest boutique hotel groups in the US, with 3,000 employees and a turnover of nearly $250 million dollars. Joie de Vivre’s annual staff turnover has fallen consistently and is well below the industry average.

Chip Conley says: “If you look at the companies that are actually flourishing in the world today, those that have come into being in the last 10 or 15 years, they are companies that live and breathe the idea of human potential. They’ve created environments that are a reflection of our times where the people at the ground level are engaged. It creates a more profitable business, better market share and a better reputation in the world.”

Adam travels to Beijing, China to see why a survey among Chinese university students on where they would most like to work consistently ranks China Mobile at the very top.

At the China Mobile Research Institute in Beijing, 89 per cent of staff have master’s degrees and nearly a third have doctorates.

Bill Huang, General Manager China Mobile Research Institute says: “China Mobile has a strong market position and a pretty strong corporate culture, training is a tremendous attraction to many young people who want to learn and grow. We strive to do the right thing and we strive to do it in the best way we can. The fundamental philosophy behind it is to give them the best training and working with the best company to become the foundation of China Mobile’s innovation.”

Saima Mohsin also travels to Silicon Valley in the United States to meet the team at Anybot, who are producing a tele-presence robot, which allows staff to work remotely yet have a virtual presence in the office.

Staff can work remotely through a web browser and a computer keyboard, yet be present in the office. The robot has cameras to see, motors to move around, speakers and a microphone, all controlled remotely. Anybot could slash commutes and business travel, reducing cost and carbon emissions.

JC