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

Choose the right company, and you will love your time in the office

Office with dog
•••

 Cultura RM/Laura Doss/Getty Images

Suffice it to say, at times, 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.

If you want to know if you'll enjoy working for a given company, all you need to do is 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.

People

Consider just how much time you spend with co-workers, from formal meetings to quick information exchanges to coffee breaks and possible after-work happy hours. 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 for the character of potential co-workers, inquire about company culture during your interview, and see if it tends toward congenial or competitive. Look around too: A quiet office of headphone-clad workers feels different from 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 are they relegated to grunt work? Pay attention to peoples' 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.

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), the artwork, and general décor.

Check to see if an office has 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.

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 of 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. Examples of stellar add-ons to a benefits package include:

  • 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
  • In-house gym

Perks display a company's values, the value they place on their employees, 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.