Tuesday 21 September 2010

Kings of efficiency, rulers of lifestyle

A photo of a cup of coffee.Image via Wikipedia
A few days ago, Fred Wilson wrote a post The Office Matters.  I agree with him in almost everything he wrote, except of one thing. He says:

When you are less than ten people, it is hard to invest in stuff like this. All you can do is focus on getting your product right and launching it. 

I heard that argument many times when talking to American startups and investors. I think it boils down to cultural differences.

It's perfectly natural for an European startup to provide free coffee, drinks, snacks (like fruit, nuts), parking space, occasional picnic, sometimes even unlimited cell phone use, and a bunch of other toys. In terms of legal environment people get fired or quit with 2 months notice, get full dental and health coverage, pension benefits and other stuff. You hire people by providing interesting job and not environment.

In American startups, you see people buying their own coffee, negotiate details of their health plans and vigorously negotiate for salaries and other compensation. They quit or get fired much more quicker than their European counterparts, with 2 weeks notice. They eat their lunch at the desk and don't jointly watch famous sports event during an office hours.

Which one is better? I don't know! Americans are kings of efficiency, while Europeans rule in terms of lifestyle.

But it still interesting to hear Europeans bragging about the latest achievements in terms of speed or volume, which would come standard for their American counterparts. And, vice versa, it's interesting to watch Americans talk about the new perk they provided for the employees as if it was the latest and the most innovative thing in the world!

My opinion: healthy dose of both worlds would be best. The big question is how to find the right balance.
Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments: