My Ideal Workplace Essay

While this question may seem inconsequential at the time of the interview, this one can actually keep you apart from others who share the same educational qualifications or even have the same experience.
If asked about your ideal job, you should ensure the interviewer that you wish to have a job that gives you professional progress as well as creative satisfaction, along with providing a stability that is required by every person.

How would you describe your ideal job – Your ideal work environment?

Your answer to this question should be:
“I would describe the ideal job as a job that makes the most of my qualifications and abilities, and gives me a chance to constantly challenge myself. I look for a stable job with quality supervision, a positive work culture at a successful company that will encourage me to work at my best.”

Other good answers to the ‘dream job’ interview question could be:

  • A job that provides opportunity to learn, progress and contribute to the organization.
  • A teamwork-oriented environment in a company that empowers employees to create and take initiatives.
  • A job that my skills are utilized to the maximum and allows me to grow within the organization.
  • I would prefer the company culture to be very team oriented and focused on delivering real measurable results while still maintaining a friendly and respectful work environment.
  • My ideal job would be – Open, supportive, entrepreneurial, stimulating, collaborative, inspiring, focused on fostering strengths.
  • I would love to work in a job in which I can work both by myself and with others to achieve the end result. I am very self-motivated so I am interested in working in an atmosphere where I can continuously learn new things and improve my skills.
  • My ideal job is – Friendly, fast paced, available to learning new things, challenging and of course opportunity for career advancement.
  • A workplace that is open to communication, staff that are approachable and willing to listen as well as give feedback.
  • I flourish in an environment that allows me to grow my position and gives me learning opportunities. Work environments where trust and team work are keys to success. I really enjoy working with teams and feel mutual trust and respect is a necessary component to any job.
  • An environment with various sized teams of equally passionate, creative and intelligent people on projects that are both exciting and practical.
  • I would prefer working in an interesting and professional job where everybody work hard and help each other to succeed as a team.
  • A job where I can use my creative abilities to support, aid and mentor other professionals.
  • The workplace that gives enough space and helps employees to grow. There should be healthy team work, good communication, mutual understanding between each team member. A workplace where there is respect for individual’s ideas and always appreciate good work as well as knowledge.

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What I want from my ideal workplace

You never get anything done around here 9-to-5

As I graduated from the university, I started the search for the ideal office space. The environment most conducive to the multi-hour interruption-free high-intensity work sessions.
Here’s how it all got started.

This is our office space in the 2-story house we rented in the nice retired family friendly area in Mountain View, CA. Jordan and Tony were sitting on two sides with their backs facing the wall. My desk is one in the front (with my backpack underneath it). Honestly, this wasn’t the most comfortable spot as my back was facing the door of the neighboring room. Psychologically it gave the sense of vulnerability and the feeling that someone was always watching behind your back.

Things got better in November 2012 with Slava joining our team. With my back facing the wall (or the fireplace, to be precise), I realized what I was missing — this ‘fleeting’ sense of security and coziness. And empirically [1], the code I produced starting from November quality- and quantity-wise was much better than that of the preceding two months. Correlation doesn’t imply causation, but I want to believe that this ‘better workplace’ attribute was one of the most important contributing factors.

In April 2013 as the weather permitted, we moved the office outside. And I got to work like this:

I can’t say that those were my most productive days, but being outside on sunny californian days still felt nice.

Now as I got back home (to Astana, Kazakhstan) and working by myself for a while, I alternate between these two modes. In the office [2]:

And at home on rainy days [3]:

Let me summarize with a few attributes of my ideal workplace [4]:

1. Big windows and lots of natural light. I don’t use any artificial light during the daylight.

2. Lots of private space for every employee. You can’t afford to optimize for containment at minimal cost.

3. A window or a wall right behind my back. But never a door or, mind you, a colleague passing by.

4. I prefer solitude when I’m at work. ‘The office is a zoo all day but by about 6 pm, things have quieted down and you can really accomplish something’ [5]. It’s disturbing that it’s impossible to do any meaningful work at most offices.

5. If I share a workspace with other people, I can be interrupted only during the assigned intervals: lunch time or SCRUM-style standing meetings at the beginning (when we share what we’re planning to accomplish by today) or the end of the workday (when we share what has been done). That’s why I prefer asynchronous tools of communication (e.g. email, team chats at Kickoff or Campfire) — I can address all the issues in batch when I’m done with the thought-intensive sessions.

6. There is something to be said about ‘open doors’ in your office from the famous essay by Richard Hamming ‘You and your research’:

I noticed the following facts about people who work with the door open or the door closed. I notice that if you have the door to your office closed, you get more work done today and tomorrow, and you are more productive than most. But 10 years later somehow you don’t know quite know what problems are worth working on; all the hard work you do is sort of tangential in importance. He who works with the door open gets all kinds of interruptions, but he also occasionally gets clues as to what the world is and what might be important. Now I cannot prove the cause and effect sequence because you might say, “The closed door is symbolic of a closed mind.” I don’t know. But I can say there is a pretty good correlation between those who work with the doors open and those who ultimately do important things, although people who work with doors closed often work harder. Somehow they seem to work on slightly the wrong thing — not much, but enough that they miss fame.

In that case, I prefer to have my door open to all interruptions as well as insightful ideas the world can offer. But only after 7PM [6]!

7. I’m not a fan of open spaces. And that despite the fact that my hero Andy Grove in his ‘High Output Management’ attributed the speed of innovation at Japanese companies to the free exchange of ideas at their open-plan offices. Here’s what authors of ‘Peopleware’ have to say on this topic, ‘The only method we have ever seen used to confirm claims that the open plan improves productivity is proof by repeated assertion’.

What are you missing at your workplace?

[1] Only self-analysis, there was no soul-searching involved.
[2] Yes. It’s been about 2 months as I’m practicing the standing desks. So far, so good.
[3] I stay at home on the rainy days as biking to the office under rain is no fun.
[4] It’s obviously a local optimum. The ‘ideal’ is always a moving target.
[5] The quote is from my favorite book on engineering management and productivity — ‘Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams’ by DeMarco & Lister.
[6] Disclaimer: I’m definitely not an anti-social introvert as an unfamiliar reader might suggest. I’m writing about the work (and not mixing it with social interactions) here, nothing else. I love hanging out with my friends in the evenings of both workdays and weekends.

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