Tesla hopes that by the end of next year, it’ll be churning out more than half a million cars a year, a significant uptick from the current rate of about 100,000. And where will all of those cars be inspected? On a bamboo floor right at the end of the factory’s production line.
Why you might ask, would Tesla CEO Elon Musk insist on a bamboo floor to inspect cars? What is so special about the flooring? As always, Musk has his reasons. He believes that if you’re going to inspect a product for quality, then whatever is framing that product must also be beautiful and flawless. Bamboo flooring is, by most accounts, stunning. And so by using this flooring, Musk hopes that it will emphasize any defects in cars coming off the production line. It’s almost like the cars themselves have to graduate from an art masterclass before they’re allowed out onto the streets.
What can this level of attention to detail teach other businesses? Why does something as apparently insignificant as a bamboo inspection floor mean so much to people like Musk?
It all comes down to the environment. Musk doesn’t see the elements of his company in isolation. There’s not an executive, a board, a marketing team, a production team or any other arbitrary group. Instead, the whole business environment is a living, breathing entity – and like other entities, it’s affected by its environment. Can you emulate this approach to environment in your business?
Factories are supposed to be dirty places full of oil, dirt, and dust. But to talk a walk in Musk’s Fremont plant in California is to enter what seems like a clean room that just so happens to be making cars. Musk says that working environments need to be perfectly clean to ensure that no compromises are made on the product. A clean environment is an environment which employees unconsciously respect, whereas, in a dirty environment, they are more likely to make careless errors and accept second best.
This is why professional commercial floor cleaning is such big business in offices up and down the land. Bosses realize that in order to get the best out of their team, they need to work in a spotless environment.
Musk’s car factory is one of the largest buildings in the world by footprint. But despite that, it’s also one of the brightest. When the factory was first bought, it was a dark and dingy place. But since moving in, it’s become light and airy, thanks to the installation of hundreds of skylights and LED ceiling lamps.
Photo courtesy of Bill in SF via Wikimedia Commons
Why is this important? Well, it turns out that employees who are exposed to natural light are more productive than those who aren’t. If natural light isn’t possible in your offices for any reason, try supplementing it with naturally-coloured artificial lighting instead.
Allow Desk Customisation
Finally, allow desk customization. Research shows that employees who are able to make their desks a little more homely work harder and longer than those that aren’t.