Ryan Holmes Weighs in on the Value of a Social Work Environment
Workplace Wellness Founder and CEO of Hootsuite, a social media management tool for businesses, knows what’s important about work culture, ergonomics and the best startup qualities to incorporate into every place of work.
Mediaplanet: Being a part of two incredibly successful ventures, how did you decide entrepreneurship was the path for you?
Ryan Holmes: Entrepreneurship has always been kind of an innate thing. I started my first business at age 16—a paintball field that later turned into the top paintball equipment supplier in Canada. When I started university and sat in the lectures, I was hungry to DO—so I dropped out and did just that. I didn’t believe that a degree was the be-all, end-all in order to be employable, and I think that’s truer than ever today.
MP: For readers looking to become entrepreneurs themselves (or those who are already hard at work), what’s your biggest piece of advice for bringing their ideas to the next level?
RH: Hustle. If you’ve found a solution for a need in the market, build it up and get it out there. Getting it perfect isn’t as important as putting it out in the open and gathering the feedback to make it better. The longer you wait, the more the other guys are gaining on you, and you’re falling behind. Ultimately, don’t be afraid to fail—failure and innovation are two sides of the same coin.
MP: Hootsuite is well-known as one of the most interesting, fun and well-designed offices to work in. How important is an engaging, ergonomic workspace to productivity?
RH: Very important. When it comes to working styles, no two employees are alike. Some are most productive and engaged in collaborative spaces, others need to crank out work in solitude. We have spaces available for both.
"Ultimately, don’t be afraid to fail—failure and innovation are two sides of the same coin."
RH: There’s an option to use standing desks and yoga balls instead of chairs. We’ve previously brought in an expert speaker to educate our staff during a Lunch & Learn about the effect of proper ergonomics for maximum productivity. If people physically feel better, they’re likely to be happier and more productive.
MP: You’ve been outspoken in your support of workplace wellness – including in-office workout facilities and a strong work-life balance. Where did this passion get its start?
RH: A huge chunk of our lives are spent in an office— it’s no wonder that 80 percent of Americans don’t get their weekly-recommended amount of exercise. At Hootsuite, we’ve encouraged a culture of fitness and balance from the beginning. Back in the day in our cramped startup office, we had a fingerboard on the wall, yoga balls for chairs and encouraged employees to bike to work. But when we moved into our newer office in 2013, we built in a full fitness facility and nap room for our employees. Since then, this culture has grown with enthusiasm and taken on a life of its own—from employee-led cross-fit or yoga classes to hip-hop cardio classes. Fitness has become one important thread that helps tie the company and its culture together.
MP: Where can companies looking to incorporate wellness initiatives start?
RH: Start with your people. Find out what your employees look to for wellness— exercise, diet, etc.—and figure out the best way to put these in place. Fitness classes, fresh fruit and healthy snacks and training groups are just a few options.
For startups worried about the spend, it doesn’t have to be expensive, it’s something every business can have if it’s ultimately built into their culture and people. Many of our wellness initiatives are employee-led, which is a fantastic way for everyone to meet each other and feel part of the company.