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5 ways to evaluate a workplace's culture from a quick tour of the office

Posted by Sidney Ferguson

Last updated on October 22, 2017

Culture is a defining element of any workplace. It consists of the character and personality of the organisation, and in some ways it's even more important than the business strategy because it can play a huge part in how successful the business is.

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In a CareerBuilder survey of IT employees, 60% said that good work culture was actually more important than salary, and in Jobvite's 2015 Jobseeker Nation Study, 21% of people listed company culture as a reason why they would leave a company for another job. It's therefore very important for companies to prioritise making sure the culture in the office is conducive to happy employees.

It's hard to identify a workplace's culture when you don't have much opportunity to spend time in the office. However, if you're offered a tour around the office during the interview process, there are a few signs you can look out for that could help give you an indication of what the culture's like before you decide whether the workplace will be a good fit for you.

Look out for these 5 signs of a great workplace culture next time you're job hunting.

1. People are communicating

When you walk around the office, what vibe do you get? Are people relaxed and talking to each other, or is the office quiet? If the office is quiet, this may indicate that they're afraid to be seen talking to each other, especially about non-work related topics. A workplace where employees feel comfortable talking and joking with each other is much more likely to have a supportive workplace culture.

2. There are photos on the wall

A sign that staff feel comfortable in their workplace is they have photos of their family and loved ones displayed at their desk. If there are no photos on display, this may indicate that the office is quite formal and that the company has a major focus on hard work rather than making sure its staff are comfortable and appreciated.

It may also indicate that employees do not see their job as a long-term position and are therefore avoiding bringing in personal belongings.

3. The leaders sit with everyone else

When only the bosses have offices and the rest of the employees sit in cubicles, this could be a sign of a worrying disconnect between the various levels of the office hierarchy. This disconnect is often also associated with a lack of respect and trust between management and the other workers.

If current staff members are quick to tell you their job title during introductions, this could also indicate that there's too much focus on the hierarchy within the office.

4. The office is tidy

A tidy office is a good indicator that the people who work there care about where they work. If there's mess and clutter everywhere, this could indicate that nobody really cares much about their working environment and could be representative of the workers' approach to their work as well. There's usually a reason why workers don't care about their workplace, and this reason may mean the culture isn't quite right.

5. There are good reviews on Glassdoor

Glassdoor is a website which features anonymous reviews by past and current employees about what it's like to work for the company and what your potential colleagues are like to work with. Of course, reviews should be treated with a healthy amount of scepticism as they can tend to skew towards the negative, but they should be able to give you an insight into the overall culture of the workplace.

A negative workplace culture can affect a company's bottom line because workers don't feel motivated to do their best work, leading to substandard results across the company. Getting a feel for a company's culture before you accept a position there will help ensure you start working at a company that's the right fit for you.

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