When I worked at MSNBC, people often wore shorts and flip-flops. Some people brought their dogs to work.
That's in stark contrast to Rob Enderle's description of 1980s IBM, where a man was called on the carpet and accused of being a rebel for wearing a pastel blue dress shirt, rather than a white one. (That's interesting in light of Swiss bank UBS AG's newly-released 43-page manual for employees on how to dress to impress. My favorite tip for men: Black knee-high socks are preferable as they prevent showing bare skin when crossing legs.)
I also once was hired for a website editing job, but every change had to go through the editor in chief. I couldn't even add or delete a comma without her approval. On the third day, I quit.
But for job candidates, it can be tough to assess whether you and the prospective company are a good match. Seeing people in shorts with dogs provides some clues to the casual nature of the workplace, but it's more difficult to discern issues such as whether the internal politics will actually allow you to succeed.
Culture is important because it can affect you in many ways-the hours you work, the availability of flextime and telecommuting, how people interact, dress, employee benefits, office layout, training and professional development. As you can see, culture affects just about everything that relates to your work.
She says it's important to start by assessing what you want in a job. Then ask pointed questions during the interview and networking interviews. (You can find current employees on LinkedIn and other professional sites.) Bussin suggests asking questions such as these:
Then by walking around, take note: Do employees look happy? Does the office layout promote collaboration? For IT folks, another tell-tale sign is to look at the equipment. Is it up-to-date or are people still using TRS-80s?