WeWork Shows Us It Wasn't a Culture Problem - LEON Manifesto

August 31, 2020

Countless upstart tech companies have Kombucha on tap, the required Ping Pong table - yet employee "culture" is still is ambiguous as it was the day it started...


So, naturally, I'm here to tell you that "culture" as we determine it today, is bullshit. And it always was, is and will be.


Let's look at WeWork:


Yep, that company. The unicorn shared office leasing company and it's highly touted in-office happy hours, Run-DMC performing, micro-dosing on shrooms work environment.


"High on We" as they called it...


WeWork was considered the benchmark of "culture" for any company.


But, under the weeds, it was the same thing we see day in and day out with other "cool" companies.


The "culture" they worked so hard to build, was a sham. 


A fallacy designed to portray the look of high performance and happiness. 


And much like most company "culture" or well-being initiatives, it was completely self-serving.


"Gotcha benefits"


Let's get back to that Kombucha...


Company perks such as free dinners for people who work late, X-Box on tap, and free beer on a Friday may sound awesome, but these all create one problem: it's designed to keep you in the office.


Jason Fried from Basecamp calls these "gotcha’ benefits," which Basecamp actively avoids.


Instead, Basecamp invests in activities that benefit employees’ lives and, in turn, benefit Basecamp by having happy staff. That means paying for their holidays, giving people money to spend on a wellness activity, whether that’s yoga or buying a bike, and paying for a massage each month – at an actual spa, not in your chair at work – among other perks.


“We’ll send people to amazing places and what’s great is that it’s not just a vacation but an experience they may not have taken on their own,” Fried says. But the company doesn’t do it for applause. “We do it because it feels right,” he concludes.


Imagine that, a benefit that "feels right" for the employee, and not the employer...


This is "culture". 


Sometimes you have to do what's right.


85% of employees hate their job.


85% of employees would prefer to be home, hanging with family or out on a run.


85% of employees would probably prefer to be doing anything else other than sitting in your office, drinking free kombucha.


If this is the case, and the 85% statistic is true, how do we build culture, without forcing our team into the company box?


You must understand that happiness doesn't come down to "culture" but individual health and happiness. There are a lot of companies with ping-pong tables, but few companies with happy employees.


Strive to be the company that has the "happiest" employees without involving YOUR company culture.


Sometimes, it’s as easy (and as cheap) as saying…


My employees come first.

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