Where do I want to work……..

Where do I want to work?  This is a question that all of us are going to have to deal with sooner or later (sorry Seniors, but I’m glad I have 1 year left) and so I decided to look around a little bit and check out companies that I thought would be COOL to work for.  I figured that a good place to start would probably be FORTUNE’s list of the top companies to work for (brilliant logic I know).  So here I was staring at companies like Google, NetApp, Whole Foods, and Apple and it dawned on me- I want to work for a company that does things differently. 

Let’s use Google as our example.  We all know about the fun environment that the guys at Google have created with their amusment park/college campus infusion they have labeled the Googleplex, but what you might not know is that last year Google had over 750,000 job applicants.  I don’t care what your profits are, if that many people want to work for your company it means you’re doing something right!  Google has created an organizational structure and corporate culture that not only allows for employees to be extremely happy, but also boosts profits as well (they brought in $16.5 billion last year).  I then thought about companies like Apple with their t-shirt wearing CEO Steve Jobs, who has created a work environment with intense pressures, long hours, but was still able to maintain the laid-back environment that has been an Apple staple since its founding.  This culture has not only resonated with their employees, but it’s customers as well.  The Apple environment has helped to create the army of Apple-heads that rally behind Steve Jobs as though he’s leading a cult.

The last company I want to highlight that has what I believe to be the most interesting organizational structure is a Northern California design firm called IDEO.  IDEO employs people from all different backgrounds, from Stanford engineers to psychologists, and refrains from using a typical hierarchical corporate structure.  Whoever is the best one suited to lead each project, leads the project regardless of “seniority”.  The interior of the IDEO office building is just as bazaar as their organizational structure, with airplane wings and bicycles hanging from the ceiling and employees who were able to “design” their own office space.  IDEO has been an innovation machine for several years, creating everything from toothbrushes, to microwaves, to medical equipment.

IDEO Employee's Office

IDEO Employee's Office

I can say with solid confidence that no one picks a career because they want to be miserable.  When you look at these firms and the environments that their organizational structures have created you can’t help but want to work in a company like this.  Yet, for some reason these kind of structures are still vastly in the minority.  Last time I talked to a friend at KPMG or PWC he wasn’t talking about the gourmet cafeteria, free laundry service, or airplane wings hanging from the ceiling.  So here is my question; wasn’t hasn’t corporate America mainstreamed this idea of creating a corporate environment that promotes happy, healthy employees that love their jobs, and more importantly that love their companies?  In addition to the “happy” environment I would imagine that a company with this kind of structure avoids problems such as power struggles, coruption, and high worker turnover as well.

So, where do I want to work?  I want to work at a company like Google, Apple, or IDEO!  Who wants to join me?

11 Responses

  1. Good question as to why Wall Street is not more like Silicon Valley. Economic reasons? Something about the nature of their environments? The history of the different institutions?

    Glad you gave us the list.

    Look at the videos I added to the site for another perspective on where (not) to work.

  2. First off… I am too glad that I have another year in the “bubble” before I have to find a job.
    As to why corporate America hasn’t mainstreamed these “ideal” workplace environments, I think it has to do with the rejection of the “Hawthorne Effect.” In chapter three of Organizations and Organizing, Scott and Davis gave examples of six studies done between the 1950’s and today that demonstrate no clear relation between worker satisfaction and productivity. Maybe employers aren’t willing to throw in the extra cash if it only means their employees will have a smile during the work day but their productivity will remain the same.
    I am only playing devil’s advocate here. I read the article when it came out a couple weeks ago and the companies on the list seemed pretty ideal. I would love to work for a company with a friendly, laid back atmosphere, but I would be willing to settle for anyone who’s looking to hire.

  3. I want to work at IDEO. Can we build an idea shop here that would combine the best of engineering, management, and arts and sciences?

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  5. In addition to the combination of “idea generators” from different disciplines, IDEO also works without a hierarchical structure. When they have a project, the project leader isn’t the one with the best title, but the one who has the expertise to best lead that project.

  6. I think the reason spans in part to what Megan commented on about the effects of these environments and whether they are financially feasible or even worth doing. I think another reason has to do with the variation in different industries. We briefly discussed this in class today. It seems every industry has a need for something different. These tech companies grow on innovation and maybe this environment is what drives it. Interning at PwC for summer I saw that will I would have enjoyed my experience more if the work environment was more like Google’s or Apple’s, there would really be no point. How many more “TPS” (office space) would I fill out if my cubicle is blue vs. grey? On the same token, how many more accounting mistakes would I find if I had an office vs. a cubicle? I’m not sure that there would be a substantial improvement.

  7. I don’t think it’s as simply as blue vs. grey or cubicle vs. office, it’s about the entire corporate experience. It’s about advocated for innovation, creativity, and freedom of thought. IDEO’s freedom is an extreme example, but if you look at the perks of working at Google (free laundry, gourmet chefs, etc.), it’s easy to understand their high level of employer happiness and productivity. I understand that there may not be as much need for innovation or creativity at PwC or KPMG (especially if it turns out more Andy Fastows), but productivity and happy workers is never a bad thing.

  8. I agree, but on the other end it also depends what your goals are. Like we mentioned in class today, it wouldn’t be beneficial for Wal-Mart to spend more on making their employers happy because this would remove their competitive advantage.

  9. I agree with Megan — I am glad to have another year in the bubble. With that said, I am nervous about entering the ‘real world’ next year. One of my biggest fears has to do with the relation between happiness and money. Yes, the saying goes that money can’t buy you happiness, but being financially well-off is still important. I am afraid that two things could happen as I enter the work force: 1. I find a job that I am happy with but that provides little financial stability. 2. I find a job that makes me miserable but has a much better pay off. So which job do you chose? Clearly not all work places are like Apple, or IDEO or Whole Foods who all are ranked as great places to work. But what about the millions of other companies out there? How do you pick between option one and two?

  10. Blaire –
    It’s funny, I have recently been having very similar worries. Especially as young alumni come back and tell me about how miserable their jobs are at big financial or accounting firms and the mindless work they do. I think that the solution is in our ability to really spend time looking into and investigating the job market. Plus, with the amount of times the average American switches jobs, you have to account for the fact that your first job will likely be a resume booster and function to simply get you on your feet. If all else fails…I heard it’s really fun to work at McDonald’s?

  11. You’re right Blair. It’s important to take time to look around. THERE IS MORE TO BUSINESS THAN WALL STREET! I know this is difficult for some Bucknellians to believe, but honestly… who wants to work there when it is hitting rock bottom like it has in the past year. People should start looking into some different fields… operations, information systems, human resources… and, oh yeah, organization development… that could be interesting…

    While the work environment at the places that Josh has mentioned sound very interesting. I think I need a little more structure, I spent my summer with ILTM touring some businesses. Martha Stewart was interesting. Very laid back as far as dress goes, but very structured with their work. Hershey was nice too… also structured and uniformed, but the people seemed very happy to be there (who wouldn’t with all of that CHOCOLATE!). My favorite was Medco. It had the very professional corporate atmosphere going on, but talking to the people there it was clear that they were happy and having fun. I think it is important to enjoy what you are doing, but I also need structure in my life. If my office looked like the one above I would never accomplish anything.

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