There Is No "Best" Company Culture


Fred Perrotta

There is no perfect company to work for. Many 24 year old graduates of high powered competitive universities seek demanding workplaces. I did when I was that age. I did not want work/life balance. And I did not want to work with people who didn’t share my full commitment to trying to make great things... [M]y point is there are dozens of factors, from salary, to pride, to working hours, to commute time, to benefits, to quality coworkers, that make a workplace desirable or not and many are highly subjective. Some of the misery in the working world is caused by a mismatch of person and culture, or person and their boss, rather than a flaw in the company itself.

— Scott Berkun, The Mistakes of Writing About Company Culture

The above paragraph is excerpted from Scott Berkun's response to an old New York Times article about Amazon's notoriously demanding work culture.

His post is really about how to parse articles about company culture. He notes that culture isn't uniform, strong opinions aren't necessarily facts, and people have different cultural preferences (see quote).

No "best" or "right" company culture exists. You may have an ideal culture for you to work in, but your preference is not universal. I would hate working at Amazon. Google was a better fit for me, though I didn't know much about either before taking my first job.

Two key parts of my job at Tortuga are:

  1. Building a culture that is ideal for our team (including me) and
  2. Being transparent about that culture so that we attract the right people.

Tortuga is different from Amazon. Tortuga is different from Google. Tortuga is even different from other remote companies like Automattic and Buffer. None of these companies are "right." They are "right" for some people.

Amazon is a great place to work for many people. For others, it's a nightmare.

Companies must be clear about their culture, both internally and externally. They must own that culture and use it to attract the candidates who will best fit there, not just the best candidates.

Employees and potential employees should consider a company's culture before joining. The culture will likely have more direct effect on your daily life and happiness than your work tasks or the company's financial performance. Read profiles of the company keeping Berkun's notes in mind. Ask to speak to current employees and, if possible, track down some former ones. Read reviews on platforms like Glassdoor. Don't just vet the job, vet the company.