Barry Carson of MojoDesk: “Rethink workspace organization to promote interaction with employees, but ensure they have private space where they can get their work done”

Rethink workspace organization to promote interaction with employees, but ensure they have private space where they can get their work done. We kind of shot too far into the everybody in the same open office area. And we lost some productivity and employee satisfaction. And by balancing out private workspaces, and more open workspaces, we […]

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Rethink workspace organization to promote interaction with employees, but ensure they have private space where they can get their work done. We kind of shot too far into the everybody in the same open office area. And we lost some productivity and employee satisfaction. And by balancing out private workspaces, and more open workspaces, we can have a more productive team.

As a part of my series about about how leaders can create a “fantastic work culture”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Barry Carson.

Barry loves figuring out how new technologies can be used to make someone’s life simpler. In 1991, MojoDesk’s parent company Xybix saw the potential in designing user-friendly, ergonomic, sit-to-stand desks for organizations that needed their employees healthy, alert and productive 24/7.

Since then they have sold directly to businesses and government agencies such as the FBI, Mayo Clinic, fire departments, and thousands of 911 call centers. MojoDesk division was started in 2018. It is the brand’s first direct to consumer product and built to the same commercial standards.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

In the early the 90’s no one had really heard about sit and stand, it was kind of a rare thing. When we developed our first sit and stand desk, most companies that we spoke to didn’t really understand why they needed this. They were thinking it would be for someone with an injured back, and not necessarily for increased health and better work performance. So, throughout the years we had developed a product that met the sit and stand, ergonomic standard, even before it came out. Because we had already kind of knew what the height ranges would be to meet the different sizes of the population. So, when the sit stand standard came out, there was something to measure it against, we had already met that standard. The whole world started to see that you can sit and stand, then probably eight years ago we started to hear that sitting is the new smoking, and things have really taken off since then.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

Well, as we were selling our sit stand desks to Hewlett Packard, and Hewlett Packard splits from being just Hewlett Packard to Hewlett Packard Agilent Technologies. And at the time of the split, they had to just integrate all the people that were in their buildings, because everyone was working next to everybody. So they had to, basically they call it re stack — where they tore everything out of the floor — furniture and such, and they rebuilt it back. And then one floor went to HP and another four went to Agilent, and so on. So the challenge was we have been selling them our sit stand desk, and when the when this change happened, we were not able to provide them with the rest of the furniture in the in the whole office at that time, so they told us that we were going to be out, and they were no longer going to purchase from us. So at that time, we knew who the furniture supplier was supposed to be. And we knew they did not have a sit stand desk that had adequate range to meet the ergonomic standards. So we told them to have this company bring in their sit stand desk guy, so that they can interview them and find out if this desk can do what they HP had specifically asked us to be able to do. And they brought the guy in, and they told him what height ranges they needed to fit different sizes of people. And the guy told them flat out this that doesn’t exist. So the HP or ergonomist said, “Well, let me take you out back here. And I’ll show you a couple 100 of them. So it ended up that we built the sit stand desk in side of the cubicle for about 3500 workstations. As they split into two different companies. It was a huge launching point for our company, a project that big overall, those men’s let us buy new machinery and equipment and really upgrade kind of how we did everything and improve our product.

Are you working on any exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We have a number of new products in the pipeline. And some of them deal with the whole experience of the worker. So, instead of just the sit stand desk, this also takes into account lighting and temperatures and heat and all those things to make your work environment more comfortable so you can stay focused, and stay in the groove longer and get more work done.

We do have a new product launching in June, which we are super excited about.

Ok, lets jump to the main part of our interview. According to this study cited in Forbes, more than half of the US workforce is unhappy. Why do you think that number is so high?

I think a lot of that is attributed to people learning to be a good CEO, supervisor or boss, and learning how people work and understanding that. Now there’s a lot of other factors. That’s probably 50% of it. The other half can be environmental, like, I’m always cold in my desk, that can be a reason, or I’m just uncomfortable. I go home and I’m tired. I don’t have energy to go play with my kids. Yeah. So if we can make the environment as best we can, hopefully, we can fix some of that problem. And then we just people need to go learn how to be a manager more often because people get thrown in that position, usually with no training.

Based on your experience or research, how do you think an unhappy workforce will impact a) company productivity b) company profitability c) and employee health and wellbeing?

Thinking unhappy workforce, does the minimum that needs to be done to get by, rather than sticking their neck out with something that could be could be risky, but it could be game changing. Stay quiet and hold back. So you get an organization that moves very slowly. And it doesn’t, you don’t break out into new categories.

100% — The products that make bigger margins are the ones that are unique and special, and somebody had to present an idea that may not be accepted the first time or not at all, of course, you’ve got to get in there somewhere. It may not be accepted, yeah, maybe thought about because it might be such a revolutionary idea that it takes a while for people to let it soak in and understand it.

As we move into the new world of the office, it’s going to be a mix of more at home and in the office. And a lot of that, too, is going to be people wanting to be healthier nowadays, and they don’t want their work to be impacting their health. So it’s critical that we have work environments, and work schedules and locations and flexibility that let people stay moving, have different exercise options to move around and change environments. And one of the risks that we have with the new work at home is a lot of people are working at home on a terrible old steel or wooden desk that doesn’t adjust and it’s not the right height for them. So we’re actually inviting more ergonomic injuries by having them work at home. So that’s an area that’s going to need some attention to get appropriate ergonomic furniture for them in their own offices.

Can you share 5 things that managers and executives should be doing to improve their company work culture? Can you give a personal story or example for each?

  1. think as soon as possible, we need to get people reengaged in person. Yeah. So once, once the vaccines are in, we need to get people back together. Because in a lot of companies, we have a lot of new teammates that we’ve never even met. And the togetherness is what helps build our cultures in our company. So we need to we need to work on that.
  2. we need to show as management that we do care for their needs at work, their space needs, and just their physical setup. So the temperatures, the lighting, the desk the whole thing. We’ve got to make sure that our people can focus enough to get their ultimate work done.
  3. providing a new level of flexibility with your employees to mix and blend the work from home and work from the office. Because we, we’ve set a new standard of what can be done at home, and we need to, as management, accept the benefits of that and try and tie in the benefits of that work experience to get our better overall employee.
  4. have in person meetings with our new teammates that some of us have never met. In person schedule, I have to say schedule in person meetings with our new teammates, to get to know our company and our culture and have people tell them our company stories. Yeah. How we built the company and why we’re good at what we do. And how we make our customers lives easier
  5. Rethink workspace organization to promote interaction with employees, but ensure they have private space where they can get their work done. We kind of shot too far into the everybody in the same open office area. And we lost some productivity and employee satisfaction. And by balancing out private workspaces, and more open workspaces, we can have a more productive team.

It’s very nice to suggest ideas, but it seems like we have to “change the culture regarding work culture”. What can we do as a society to make a broader change in the US workforce’s work culture?

I think a lot of the change in work culture has already happened. Because of the pandemic. Companies have accepted, work from home as a real possibility in many positions where it would not have been considered before. So the challenge now is to not go back to our old ways. But learn how to mix the work from home with some work with people to get the benefits of both the better culture and the better home life.

How would you describe your leadership or management style? Can you give us a few examples?

My leadership style — I like to get out with my employees and find their wants and needs outside of work because it helps us align goals and rewards for their successes.

I have an employee who is big on fishing, and I am not a big fisherman fan, and I went out and did some fishing with him and learned and understood what they enjoyed from it. I’ve learned Its their separation and break from work life. Gives them an escape. So I can use that with rewards — a trip or something to help with those breaks.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Sure. Well, I’ve been in business with my father since 1991. And he’s always given me good, solid business advice. kept me out of trouble when I was a young, feisty 20 year old in the business world and made sure that we always do business, ethically, and financially sound.

We had a big project that we were in the running to win. And we were a small, scrappy startup at that time and we really needed the business. The potential client asked us for essentially a kickback if they awarded it to us. And that’s where my father immediately said, “no way, we don’t even want to do business with these guys.” At the time was hard because we needed the project but In the end, turned out we found other projects and we succeeded. But it was definitely a good lesson.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Well, me and my brother and father have been volunteer ski patrollers for about thirty plus years each, and we go on weekends and help people injured people that need help.

Another thing we do with MojoDesk is, when we make videos for our products, we also give back to the community and take our videographer and make videos for small businesses.This initative is called “MojoDesk Give back”. Did a video for a hairstylst — they have good content to use. We do it free.

we’ve also done that for 911. Center, we go and we make recruiting videos for them because they’ve they’re struggling like a lot of companies these days to find good employees know, we give them a killer video to help entice people to come and sign up. And we’ve seen success with that we had one. One customer who had double the amount of new applicants.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Probably since we do a lot of r&d and product development, and product development never is linear. discover things that work or don’t work. Things change a lot. But I think probably one of my favorite quotes on that is fail fast, fail often fail forward.

Sure. It’s, it’s the goal of that is to break things quickly. So that you find the problems with it. And you’re able to address them in when they’re still a small issue or you’re the design phase where it’s easy to change, rather than rather than leaving an error or a fly in until you’re at the very end and fixing is then become too much work. But you push out a product that shouldn’t have it shouldn’t have those flaws. SpaceX is a great example that you know, they’ve, they’ve crashed how many rockets and blowing them up and they go, Hey, we got to kind of get data from that. Yeah. Right. And everyone’s like, Oh my god, they blew up a rocket. And they’re like, yep. We got it. And then we figured it out on the next one.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Finding a way to teach people empathy and how to see it in others. Right away, it Takes a way a lot of anger and differences that people pretend there are.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you continued success!

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