Quick Studies

How Warby Parker Created a Marketplace for Work

Creating a marketplace-driven workflow and empowering your employees can re-energize your company and increase initiative and motivation.

Assigning work to employees is time-consuming and challenging: to be successful, you have to correctly prioritize task, gauge the capability of the employee, and motivate them to do the work. Warby Parker flipped the script by creating “The Warbles Process,” which created a marketplace for work that allows the company to prioritize goals, tackle a wider variety of projects, and increase the happiness scores of both employees and internal stakeholders.

If you’re looking for ways to revamp workflow in your company, try some of these ideas from the Warbles Process:

  1. Create a marketplace for work. In the Warbles Process, employees submit work requests to a platform that is visible to all. Any employee can pitch an idea and have it evaluated by the managers across the company, which encourages employees take initiative, and exposes the company to a diversity of ideas.
  2. Prioritize company goals. Once the work request is submitted, upper management either upvotes or downvotes the idea to assign points, or “Warbles.” Only upper management, who can see across the entire company, vote, and voting power is distributed by rank: for example, the CEO’s votes add and subtract more Warbles than a manager’s votes. This results in a prioritized list of requests with their assigned value in Warbles based on the interest of the company, rather than those of specific departments, teams, or employees. And since the entire company can see all submitted tasks and votes, it ensures that the opinions being added to the marketplace are valuable and high quality, and voters are kept accountable.
  3. Allow employees to choose their tasks. From this prioritized list, teams choose tasks and earn corresponding Warbles upon completion. (Each team’s selection is guided by a leader who is an expert, so that teams can stay focused when choosing tasks.) This encourages employees to work on high-priority tasks, but also empowers them to evaluate other incentives such as availability, interest, or skillset.
  4. Reward the team. Every six months, Warby Parker rewards the team that has accrued the most Warbles with a special team outing. As a result, teams are motivated to earn as many Warbles as they can in the shortest amount of time, and stimulates the team to work together towards a common goal.


Published January 20, 2017

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