Company culture - so hard to define yet so crucial to growing your company. What is commonly imagined as a desirable workplace – with ping pong tables, happy hours, and cushy benefits – definitely help with adding an attractive touch.
But, how do you create a culture that is unique to your values and the kind of purpose you want to give your employees?
In an age where everyone offers clones of perks and pay-checks, your work culture will be ‘the one’ differentiating factor for new candidates to join your organization.
Keeping this in mind, we’ve put together examples of companies that have a concrete, well-defined work culture. These will inspire you to design your own company culture – one where your people will love to work!
Let’s throw some light into Google’s much-revered work culture and what makes it unique!
Besides being a tech giant that many companies aspire to become, Google is at the forefront of company culture initiatives. Every year, they implement new practices that are a result of continuous development and experimentation.
Just as an illustration, they have an entire section in their company handbook dedicated to dogs. That’s right - Google believes dogs are an integral part of their family as much as their employees are. Making it a great way to boost their employee’s work-life. As a bonus, people are strongly encouraged to bring their own dogs to work anytime.
Let’s get to some (seemingly) more important matters now. Google’s offices boast a flat infrastructure. This means that employees at any level can connect with senior or executive managers, without jumping through hoops, or communicating via secretaries.
This fosters an environment where everyone’s voice is heard without feeling like another cog in the machine.
Here’s another example: Google really knows how to help their people with managing their finances. And not just in the usual sense.
Besides paying everyone a fair wage, Google has financial advisors in their offices available for every employee. From offering advice on taxes, debts, to helping them to manage investments – the financial experts at Google have got their people covered! This makes it a great way to offer additional financial security to their people..
Google has always been intentional about hiring people who voice out their opinions. Since everyone has a direct line of communication with the managerial level, it’s crucial that employees use this opportunity to be honest with their feedback. This is why one of the most important qualities in new hires (besides skills, of course) is the will to share honest feedback.
“My job as a leader is to make sure everybody in the company has great opportunities, and that they feel they’re having a meaningful impact.” - Larry Page
Overall, Google is at the centre of not just solving our everyday problems, but also of their own employees through an immersive, and deeply-rooted work culture.
How Google does it differently:
Financial security for employees
Flat organizational infrastructure
Equal opportunities for employees to share feedback
Any guesses on who was awarded the best place to work in for 2021? Hint: The company name starts from ‘Z’ and ends with ‘oom’. Yes, we’re going to dive into Zoom’s exemplary workplace culture here.
The company quickly became the go-to tool to virtually meet our families and employees during the pandemic. So how does a company that connects all of us with its video conferencing tool, unites all their employees in a thriving workplace?
“Every day, when I woke up, I was not very happy. I even did not want to go to the office to work,” Eric Yuan, before he founded Zoom
When Eric S. Yuan launched the company, he had one aim: to build the kind of place where he would want to work for 10 or 20 years.
Here’s their success story: Even before the pandemic, Zoom offered its employees maximum flexibility to work from anywhere, anytime.
Besides their regular healthcare benefits, Zoom rewards their employees with cushy perks. To begin with, they get a monthly gym stipend to use, and have a fund for mental health, as well as fertility benefits.
When the pandemic started, the company wanted to ensure that its employees had everything necessary to work from home. That means an additional fund for home office equipment, a home gym, and even one for getting deliveries of food and groceries.
The company not only continued to build their product during the pandemic, but also strongly built its workplace culture – both virtually and at-office. They believe in the power of listening to their employees and providing meaningful perks that its workforce truly wants.
What makes Zoom’s work culture unique:
Maximum work flexibility
Care packages: From home equipment to groceries
Offering perks that employees can truly benefit from
There’s a high chance that everyone reading this piece has probably seen a Pixar animated movie. It’s a company that flourishes on creativity with a fresh take on everyday life. And this is exactly reflected in their work culture.
Collaboration is at the core of the company but not in the traditional sense. Meetings aren’t really a necessity and if a meeting can be avoided, it doesn’t happen. However, they do have short daily sessions where everyone shares what they’re working on.
Pixar establishes the following priorities:
Smart people even over breakthrough ideas
Trust people even over the process
Build community over free agency
Creative vision even over conformism
They organise Braintrust meetings to weed out mediocre ideas, and push for excellency. These brainstorm/feedback meetings are held every few months between different teams where the motive isn’t to steal one’s idea, but to offer candid, and honest feedback.
Braintrusts are there just to offer guidance but they don’t determine the final direction of a movie.
They also have Notes days, which are exactly what they sound like. Employees take a breather from work for a few days and the entire company breaks up into different groups. Everyone tries to solve a different problem, usually completely unrelated to what they work on every day.
While Pixar is not a typical remote company with quirky benefits, they definitely do set a benchmark when it comes to defining a work culture of collective creativity.
What Pixar does it differently:
Fosters a collaborative culture through feedback sessions
Implements creative ideas like Braintrusts, and Notes days
Build a community rather than a place where people come to work
There’s a lot of things that Salesforce is known for, primarily for being one of the best CRM tools in today’s market. As of 2021, it has more than 50,000 employees all over the world. With that kind of number, it’s incredibly difficult to build culture, and yet this company has excelled at it.
to nonprofits and education institutions around the globe. So far, they have given $240 million in grants, 3.5 million hours of community service, and offered their product to more than 39,000 different institutions.
Ever since Salesforce introduced this model, several other companies – both big and small have adopted this culture of giving as well. While it’s not a typical example of exciting company culture, it shows us that even when a company grows to a large scale, it can still give back to the community and inspire others along the way.
How is Salesforce’s work culture different:
Believe in the act of giving to employees, and customers
Rewards acts of positivity
Fosters a community of trust, growth, and equality
By now, you’ve probably figured out that building culture in a remote team is not only possible but it’s actually been done and documented quite a few times. Even before the pandemic, many companies have been working remotely and Buffer is one of those pioneers. One of the biggest names in the SaaS industry, they’ve built a social media tool loved by more than 70,000 people.
There’s one word that Buffer perfectly manifests in its work culture - transparency.
They share everything with their team of 85 people across 15 countries and a lot of times, they share with the world. Not only can you see what you would earn in a certain position before you’re hired, but you’ll also see what others make - it’s all public.
On their path to building a transparent company, you’ll see Buffer sharing everything from their annual income reports to how much they pay each employee. Company values are publicly shared and each decision is fully transparent - there are no secrets.
On top of all this, Buffer was one of the first companies to embrace remote retreats. Before the pandemic changed the way we travel, they organized company-wide retreats to have the entire team meet up in a separate location, such as Singapore.
Buffer’s unique work culture includes:
Creates a strong engagement amongst employees even virtually
If you’re a lover of mountains, especially in the United States, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of REI. This sporting goods store is consistently ranked as one of the top places to work in the USA.
We attract outdoors-oriented employees who sustain the culture and attract even more like-minded employees. They share the same interests and values; they’re committed to the environment, to the community, to work-life balance, and to having fun outside. And that goes for management, too.
In addition to paid time off (which is unlimited), employees have something called Yay Days. This is essentially a day that you use for whatever personal project you want to work on or just to get out in nature to have fun - which is something REI strongly encourages.
Material benefits and incentives are also an important part of the mix. The company blends their product with the culture through its initiative: Challenge Grants.
The basic premise here is that the employees need to come up with unique outdoor challenges. If their challenge wins enough votes, they get awarded with outdoor gear of their choice.
REI is an example that shows how a seemingly old-fashioned brick-and-mortar company can introduce something new and interesting to keep their employees engaged and their culture flourishing.
What REI does differently:
Offers incentives through unique programs
Supports employees’ well-being through outdoor activities
Build a community of like-minded people
One of the most famous companies in the world right now, Airbnb took a huge hit during the pandemic once everything turned to a halt in the world of tourism. But, even during such challenging times, they kept their corporate work culture alive and thriving. Here’s how:
Keeping people productive, motivated and engaged has always been a central focus of Airbnb. To an extent that they allow employees to choose between working remotely and from the office. It’s refreshing to learn that many of them chose to work from the office just to see their peers.
The reasons are many. One of them is a practice with a quirky name: Elephants, Dead Fish, and Vomit. These are the three main areas that employees discuss every time they meet up in groups.
Elephants are the big things that everyone notices but no one talks about.
Dead Fish are incidents that happened in the past but still have an effect on the present.
Vomit represents those things that employees desperately want to get out of themselves and discuss in groups.
While most companies shy away from these topics, Airbnb does not only address them, but they make it a focus during their company wide meetings. Discussions like these, build a culture of transparency where nothing is hidden and every problem – big or small deserves to be talked about.
Adding to this mix, Airbnb has another peculiar initiative called Ground Control. This is an entire team dedicated to employee engagement. Essentially, a group of people ensures that all employees’ performance is celebrated and that everyone is recognized for their participation and performance.
This team looks over company events, setting up the office arrangements, celebrating the small and big wins, and overall, just making sure that everyone gets the praise and attention they deserve.
What makes Airbnb’s culture different:
Creates opportunities for discussing of all kinds of problems/topics
Celebrates small and big wins
Recognizes every employee’s effort
If there’s one thing you noticed in all of these examples of great company culture, the one common thread that these companies have - it’s putting people in the center. These companies deeply care about their employees and want to make their organizations great places to work and be in. They accomplish this by giving them the benefits and perks that they truly want, instead of assuming what is best for their people.
Do you want to join these companies and become an organization that values its employees? Our employee enablement platform gives you access to all the tools to onboard, develop and connect your team, no matter your structure. Sign up for a free demo to get started!
Alex takes care of everything related to marketing and customer success at Zavvy. On this blog, he mainly shares insights gained from discussions with selected experts and from helping our customers set up and improve their onboarding program or learning programs.