WOW!!! What made me say that? Check this news item out.

That reminded me of something I read quite some time back, about Ricardo Semler, who runs the most unusual workplace in the world – Semco in Brazil. What is so unusual about it? The fact that employees have complete freedom in every respect. When Semler says ‘complete freedom’, he means it. There’s no fine print.

Employees choose their own work hours. They decide their own pay. They decide in which department and which office of Semco they wish to work from. Employees’ e-mails and internet usage are not monitored. The organisation is highly transperant and employees decide whom they want to work under. Employees rate their bosses and these ratings are known company-wide. The books of accounts of the company are open to the employees. The company gives full support to employees wishing to pursue a passion or higher education. There is a large garden with hammocks in the office premises, where employees can rest when they are tired. This firm does not have anything called Human Resource Management. They haven’t had any major problems so far, which they haven’t been able to deal with.

In Ricardo Semler’s words, “At Semco, we always assume that we are dealing with responsible adults, which we are. And when you start treating employees like adolescents by saying that you can’t come late, you can’t use the bathroom – that’s when you start to bring in the adolescent in people.”

Sounds like something out of a fairytale? It is not. This company is for real. And, it is working. The results speak for themselves. In 2003, Semco’s annual revenue was recorded at $212 million, from $4 million in 1982 and $35 million in 1994. The annual growth rate was recorded at around 40 per cent a year. In the year 2003, the number of employees was 3000, up from 90 in 1982.

Semco was originally into the production of ship parts, but is now into various industries, including pumps, real estate management, management of large-scale properties like hospitals and airports, environment consultancy, Internet and inventory control. Ricardo states that he has not defined any specific industry as the one in which Semco would operate, because this would be restricting the scope of the company. It is ready to spread its wings in whatever field seems promising at any point of time.

Reading about this on the Net prompted me to go for Ricardo Semler’s book ‘The seven-day weekend – changing the way work works’. Our team gifted this book to my ex-boss. :)I am halfway through it, and finding it amazing. Some of their unusual practices made me wonder, “How far is this feasible?,” but it is working for sure. I have seen and worked in organisations that allow freedom to employees, but this….. it is ‘complete freedom’ in the truest sense. My reaction on reading the first few pages was “Can I send my C.V. there?” 😀 

Anybody in India listening???


1) Ricardo Semler in Wiki

2) An interview with Semler

3) A review of ‘The seven-day weekend’



Filed under Everyday polambals, Work

16 responses to “WOW!!!

  1. Let them try it in India and see the effect. It would give opposite results, i think 😦

  2. priyaiyer

    @vijay ganesh

    welcome here again! 🙂

    are we actually so screwed up? i m not sure.

  3. krishna

    Checked ur blog after quite a while..semco certainly seems to be a dream company. World Of Wonder (WOW!)

    At the cost of sounding pessimist, I agree with Vijay that a country where people crib on not getting enough holidays – even though there are so many, at least in govt. organizations – something like semco won’t work.

  4. Priya…

    Pls do visit and read my blog ;
    I keep writing and you can know my fear in a post called india’s republic day.

  5. Jesse G

    What’s happening at Semco is very much like what’s happening in this country with ROWE (Results-Only Work Environment). People have complete freedom in terms of how they spend their time. The two women that created ROWE, Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson, have a great blog – Worth checking out.

  6. priyaiyer

    @krishna and vijay ganesh

    hey krishna! welcome back! 🙂 vijay ganesh, read ur post. thanks for the link.

    my humble opinion is that i have seen people misusing the freedom given to them in organisations, and people making good use of it too. i think such a concept can work only when the company puts strong emphasis on the achievement of results. putting aside the workability factor, it sure sounds like a dream company. i, for one, would work in such a company with all my heart. 🙂

    @jesse g

    hey! welcome here! 🙂 thanks for the link. nice blog. i did check out. they got some fab info there! 🙂

  7. Hi Priya… Why dont you start such a dream company… Keep it as your plan for future.

  8. priyaiyer

    @vijay ganesh

    great idea! 🙂 when i do start my own company, i would definitely make it flexible at least in terms of time for the employees. 🙂 am a looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong way away from that though. so can only dream now. 🙂

  9. Wired had a similar article on the Best Buy electronics store in the US, and how they had similar practices. Nice post, will be sure to read the book.

  10. priyaiyer


    thanks. yep, do read the book. good one. 🙂

  11. WOW!!!!!
    Truly amazing!! How I wish we could have at least 30 percent of freedom those employees have there..
    Hmmm.. good one priya!

  12. priyaiyer


    thanks! if only wishes could come true… 🙂

  13. 🙂 WOW!!

    Thanks for the info! This is amazing. Will have to dig deep into this. Of course will use the links you have here. Thanks.

    I too don’t think a setup like this can be even dreamed over here. Our mentality has to have a complete overhaul for such things. But it would be lovely to work in a company like that. But employees deciding the salary too?? :-0

    Too far fetched!

  14. priyaiyer


    wow indeed! 🙂 sounds too good to be true. would love to work in such a firm too.

  15. Hey,

    It sounds very interesting to be in place with complete freedom.

    well some of the points metioned above do match with our firm we have transperancy and no net monitorin though some of the websites are blocked otherwise everything is same.

    Apart form assigned boss I may not work with one with whom u desire to work…….

    I am doin nothing apart form doing what i hat to do………..:)

    so cheers guys……
    u may find complete freedom here when u own ur own frim!

  16. priyaiyer


    hey! long time, no see? hope u r doing fine.

    well, i guess semco is something more than an ordinary firm with ‘complete’ freedom in all respects, from what i hav read of it.

    giving freedom to employees to work in their own style, at their own pace is one thing. but choosing ur boss, choosing ur salary figure, choosing ur hours and a lot of other aspects i read about – i hav not heard of anywhere else. 🙂

    yep, it would be a load of fun working in such a place.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s