Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Stefan Bhagwandin from Share Your Office. His opinions are his own.
Finding talent is only half the battle, as every recruiter knows. Sifting through resumes and online portfolios is challenging as it is, but when you do find a candidate that you’d hire on the spot, you can bet they’ve got a few other offers on the back burner.
How can you stand out?
Salaries are what they are, and you certainly can’t drain all of your funding on hiring. What makes your startup a more enticing option than every other company that offers the same pay and perks?
Company culture is a big factor; in many cases, it’s the deciding factor. But culture is abstract: you can’t prove to a candidate in a single interview that your company is a fulfilling place to work.
Fortunately for us, there’s an oft-overlooked factor that instantly (and wordlessly) broadcasts your company culture: office design.
People can’t help but judge books by their covers. Every recruit you bring into the office is going to use your interior design to judge what kind of culture your company has. Luckily, there are a few common factors that startup employees and independent workers look for in an office. Add these factors to your value proposition, and you’ll have a new hire in no time.
Whether your office is collaborative or private, communication between team members is key. Open office designs are trendy, but noise can be a big problem. Employees spend most of their time talking to their immediate neighbors anyway.
And yet, having open access to one another is crucial. In a Share Your Office report, David Head of Design Live said that his team was “2-3 times more productive” when they were working side-by-side. Likewise, Lauren Mosenthal of Glassbreakers said that it’s “really beneficial to be able to slide over to someone you’re working with and say, ‘hey, can you take a look at this?'”. The key is to encourage focused, informal discussions about work, without eliminating privacy altogether and drowning the room in distracting chatter.
Everyone seems to think that startups prize fun over all else. Common startup office amenities include kegerators, bean bags, and the ubiquitous ping pong tables. From an outsider’s perspective, the superficial ethos of fun dominates the office environment, making it harder for employees to focus on actual work.
There’s no doubt that office amenities are awesome, but they’re awesome specifically because they’re part of company culture. Flashy office conveniences might entice newbies, but for recruits who’ve been around the startup block, the novelty is gone.
Instead, pitch the social and mental value of having beer in the office. The practical value can be replicated (just go out and buy a beer yourself), but having the whole team gather and relax for happy hour might be exactly the kind of team-building exercise your recruit wants to see.
In the age of communal work spaces, you don’t have to convince potential startup hires that they’ll be able to socialize at the office. Communication is the norm. Instead, some applicants might worry that they won’t be given the quiet time they need to do their job and get home at a reasonable hour.
This is especially true for jobs that require constant use of the phone, like sales or business development. Showing that you have comfortable, private phone call space might make all the difference to someone whose career depends on it.
Never forget the practical details. I’m talking about things like internet speed, coffee brands, and social outings with the team. The details might be minute, but demonstrating knowledge and awareness of the little things that make work life fun will boost your credibility with a potential new recruit. Wouldn’t you be more inclined to trust a recruiter’s sales pitch if they could tell you the office’s upload/download speed at the drop of a hat?
When talking to potential new employee, you want to build credibility and trust. If you understand the employee’s tastes and preferences (even if they’re trivial), your goals will feel more aligned. Sometimes, it’s the little things that are most effective at indicating your company culture.
You might take it for granted because you work there, but your office really is the first non-digital impression you’ll make on prospective hires, and we all know that first impressions count. If your space is appealing and you pitch its value in a way that makes sense to the applicant, you’ll fill your talent gap in a snap.
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