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Behind the scenes tour: Exploring the magic of a US toy inventors workshop

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Supply and demand

You dont want staff to have to bring their own pencil case full of stationery into the office because your cupboard is bare thats just going to cause frustration. The same goes for sluggish computers that crash on a regular basis and so on.

So given the inventive nature of BMT, the firm tries to ensure that staff only need to have their minds on the task at hand, without getting worked up on a lack of resources.

Ive mentioned the use of 3D printers, but there are also sewing stations and all kinds of furs and fabric available to choose from. You can also find moulds, liquid baths and lasers too.

Everywhere you look there are raw materials that we use to build products with, and a billion different types of plastic,” Rosenwinkel said. Different plastics are needed to do different jobs, so weve got a little bit of all of that around here.

“We try and provide anything our designers will need, so wherever their mind is, theyre not burdened down by how do we make it weve got it here, all the right machines, all the right materials. So we say all youve got to be is creative , so thats what we try and make.

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Perks of the job

Whether it’s free fruit or early finishes, something seemingly small can actually make a very big difference to the emotions of workers. In the Windy City, indoor parking can be a bit like living the dream.

This is a big perk for Chicago weve got indoor parking. In the winter this is priceless,” detailed Rosenwinkel. The space doubles up as a storage area too, with some several thousand prototypes kept safe and sound in place.

Building on the desire to offer an uncomplicated working environment, all of the toys are numbered and categorised on computer, which means theres no need to wildly spend hours rifling through a stale filing system manually.

“We realised after being here for a while we needed more storage so we built a mezzanine. We can work long hours, so basically there are sheets and towels and stuff if people want to hang out. Theyre either working out or sleeping here,” said Rosenwinkel as he showcased the den-cum-gym area.

Flexible working

Yep, flexible working. It can be incredibly handy, delivering workers the opportunity for a better work-life balance. And it doesnt have to be extreme either, as Rosenwinkel detailed the strategy that works for BMT.

“We really try not to burn people out, so they put in about nine hours a day though it’s not mandatory. Some guys [at other companies] work 12-14 hours a day, but we dont do that because we know that just doesnt work,” he said.

Sometimes youll get in a crunch where theres a deadline and youll work a bit longer, but then we can have people get their head down.

While there arent specified hours as such, the studio is open from 7.30am to 5.30pm. You dont have to be there the whole time, but sometimes you can be there earlier rather than later,” Rosenwinkel continued.

Some guys do get in earlier or later to beat the traffic, but theyre the basic parameters. Very few people are here for a ten-hour day, they might take an hour or two for lunch, we dont have a clock-in machine or monitor anything like that.

So there you have it. Even though BMT staff may be encouraged to think like children at times, they’re treated like adults and given what they need to make things happen.

Not every leader will be able to adopt each practice for their firm, but there should be at least one trend that can be adopted into their own workplace. Who says work can’t be fun

Read more from my time in Chicago, which included keynotes from Ashton Kutcher, Richard Branson and more.

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