Rethinking What Makes A Company The ‘Best Place To Work' In The COVID Era

On my first day at Google back in 2012, I remember clearly how impressed I was over the energy in the air, the creativity of the workspaces, smart people, and awesome perks. Since then, the company went on to be ranked among various ‘Best Places to Work’ lists a few times.

Recognition like this happens after some detailed surveys, analytical data, and probably some informal lobbying efforts by passionate employees.

But in a world where people are less connected, working remotely and not able to take advantage of the in-office perks of the past, what will make a company considered among the best place to work in the future?

I came across this interesting question from a tweet by James Currier, a venture capitalist at the firm NFX. He, along with everyone else in the industry, spend a lot of time trying to help their portfolio executives think about ways to attract and retain the best talent.

I think James’ suggestion hits on something important, which is less about any ‘best places to work’ rankings and more about how employees will gradually compare and think about what a good employer looks like.

The world hasn’t been the same since March of this year, when many companies started to lock office doors and encouraged employees to work remotely. For me, this meant discontinuation of some of the great benefits that came along with working for Google. This includes some of the same perks that attracted me there in the first place. 

So how will companies remain competitive in an environment where spending money on lavish perks, which is a staple in Silicon Valley, is less relevant?

Working on important and value-add projects, getting compensated equitably, and working in a culture (albeit virtual) that is conducive to employee’s professional desires will definitely be important criteria. More granularly, I would add that increased transparency, clearly-defined performance management processes and work/life flexibility will be very important.

Personally, I’m excited to see the shift that will have to emerge from all companies that want to remain competitive in attracting top talent. Most companies are essentially starting from the same place (generally) and this means that creativity and process thoughtfulness will likely win over a company’s sheer ability to spend money.

What additional factors do you think will be critical and necessary in the new working environment we are living in?