How to Tell If a Company Will Be Fun to Work For

Choose right, and you'll love your time in the office

office with dog
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Perhaps it's best to skip precisely calculating the hours you spend at work. Suffice it to say: some weeks, your office may feel like a second home.

With that much time spent at work, it's worth it to ask: Are you enjoying your time there? Of course salary, responsibilities, title, and opportunities for advancement are important considerations when applying for a job or weighing a job offer — but so is the job's fun quotient.

How to Tell If a Company Will Be Fun to Work For

Want to know if you'll enjoy working for a company? Consider the three P's: people, property, and perks. Evaluating these elements reveals what a day at the office will feel like, and can help you know if you'll enjoy your time spent at work.

Perks

Any perk or benefit a company offers is a wonderful, non-required add-on, by definition. Some things, though, are fairly standard: two weeks vacation, sick days, health insurance, and retirement fund matching.

Perks that go beyond these typical offerings can be transformative to your finances and general happiness. Here are some examples of stellar add-ons to a benefits package:

  • Unlimited vacation days (or any vacation time stretching beyond two weeks)
  • Free meals and snacks; alcohol at the office
  • Bring your pet to work days
  • Access to the latest technology — some companies may allow you to keep laptops, phones, and tablets after a certain tenure
  • Volunteer matching programs
  • Bonuses and profit sharing
  • Mentorship programs
  • Paid maternity/paternity leave

Perks display a company's values and offer a glimpse into day-to-day life: a company with paid leave for new moms and dads is likely considerate to the complicated schedule that comes with parenting; a company giving out endless free meals, with booze on tap, may very likely have long hours as a trade-off.

Review perks with an eye toward the picture they paint of the company, and of day-to-day life on the job.

More on perks: Evaluating a Company's Benefits | How to Compare Employer Benefit Packages |

People

Remember how we said not to tally up hours spent at work? Stick to that goal — but consider just how much time you spend with co-workers, from formal meetings to quick information exchanges to coffee breaks. Genuinely liking and enjoying time with co-workers can make all the difference in your attitude as you head into work on a Monday morning.

To get a sense of the character of potential co-workers, inquire about company culture during your interview, to see if it tends toward congenial or competitive. Look around too: an office of headphone-clad workers feels different from a space with chattering colleagues, and one of those options may feel more comfortable to you.

Try to see how entry-level employees and interns are treated: Are they part of the team, or relegated to grunt work? And, pay attention to people's personalities and general vibe, especially when talking about the company. Ideally, everyone at a company, from interns through to the CEO, is happy, engaged, and not overworked.

Also good: colleagues who can teach and mentor you.

More on people in the workplace: What Is Company Culture?

Property

Offices and cubicles have a reputation for looking grim; often the color scheme is restricted shades of gray and beige. The temperature is generally too hot in winter, and overly air conditioned in summer.

But not all offices are drab or feature recirculated air! As you walk through the office on the way to an interview, take in the aesthetics and atmosphere: Would you feel comfortable spending the bulk of your week in this space? Evaluate how workspaces are laid out (e.g., cubicles or open spaces), artwork, and general décor.

Check to see if there is space devoted to group gatherings — such as lunchrooms with tables, or a space to grab a coffee — as well as non-conference room meeting areas, private spaces to make a personal phone call, and other amenities that can make an office feel like a place where spending eight hours a day is a pleasure.

More Tips for Finding a Joy-Inducing Job