I ask them if devices are part of the workplace, they tell me no, you bring your own laptop. There are lots of open desks, but the seats are uncomfortable and I don't see a single monitor or keyboard.
We go down to the meeting rooms. They show me the coffee + barista, the bowling alley, and the nice grass like carpets.
It seems to surprise them that when I go to work, I actually want to be productive. I enjoy getting things done. I'm not there to go bowling, or play video games, or watch Netflix. A productive developer is a happy developer.
The corporate equivalent are agile methods with plenty of tooling but no direct communication with the client, open spaces yet still 100 layers of hierarchy, empowerement that means more responsability and no leverage, and the usual "we have plenty of cool looking equipment except what you actually need to get the work done".
I don't want a dual screen and 16Gb of RAM because I feel cool with it. I do because I'm paid $800/day and wasting time with something that can be solved for a few hundred dollars is just bad economics.
Wow, that so succinctly summarizes how I've felt at more than one workplace
Very well put.
They had this internal newsletter where REWS would expound on new office buildings opening, or renovated buildings re-opening. They would always highlight the impressive public spaces, with baristas, games, living plant walls, old cars built into sculptures, whatever. But they NEVER, NOT ONCE, gave any coverage to the areas where people worked. I don't know about you, but I spend 80-90% of my time at work at my desk. I was in an older building that had actual 6' tall cube walls, with real desks. When visiting other teams, I was horrified to learn that these new spaces had cramped worktables with low or no partitions. At least there were still assigned space, and keyboards & monitors (and workstations for most engineers).
Thankfully I left Google before my group was moved to such a building.
I think there must have a misunderstanding or that was a situation I've never seen in corporate america.
But it could be a misunderstanding. I hope it's a misunderstanding because it was baffling. They informed me that once upon a time they did have cubicles and desktops, but those are gone.
But that's not a benefit; that's required for performing the job. Did they also make the janitors bring their own brooms/mops/vacuums?
If you can bring your own laptop, at least you can choose one which can do the job. Big improvement compared to big corp laptop.
I mean, the reason why people don’t work at banks is because:
- tech is still seen a cost center
- processes for change are onerous
- heavy focus on maintenance
- teams have non-uniform quality
None of which can be solved by furniture placement.
Although they're also still big, old organisations, subject subject to lots of regulations, and with tons of legacy systems. So they're unavoidably more limited than startups. But within those limitations, they're doing a pretty good job in my experience.
- Money (highest you will get outside of FAANG or winning the startop lottery)
- quite an interesting industry.
In some cases finance > FAANG. But you're still treated like a very highly paid janitor.
A senior dev in the department I am in now who works on a front end for trading derivatives had the head of trading and other traders come to his leaving drinks. This would be pretty unheard of 50 years ago.
A good IT guy is worth his weight in gold and is revered by the desk. These days if your trading system is down you can do literally nothing. Just sit there and think about the money flowing out of your book...
For instance, while quantitative research during the explosion of Black-Scholes-based modeling and complex financial products was intellectually interesting, after the 2008 crisis the focus moved to maintaining existing models (mostly trying not to lose money on legacy products) and implementing various regulations (e.g. central clearing requirements).
Implementing stress tests drove us to
1. Massively scale infrastructure
2. Create elastic infrastructure to allow spikes
3. Re-do our models away from ad-hoc towards parameter models
4. Invest in more interesting compute models
However, I still think banking as a whole is more interesting than a lot of others - FMCG, manufacturing etc.
However, that does not make all banks unethical. There are absolutely predatory banks, but there are also banks that exist to provide value to their customers, while taking responsibility for their role in society. Avoid the former and choose the latter.
(It's entirely possible that ethical banks are so because they're forced to by regulations. If you think that's the case, vote for better regulation. Dutch banks seem to be taking these things very seriously, though most of them have also been involved in at least one greed-driven scandal during the past two decades.)
Google lets people wear casual clothes, so we need to do that too:
Facebook has bean bags, so we need that too. Cool co has cool toy -> we need cool toy.
But are they copying you submit your own promotion case? Can any employee submit questions to the C-suite every week? Can you send a couple hundred dollars to anyone else at any time? Do they have ERGs?... and many more other things.
No, not that. So at the end of the day companies will copy the superficial visual easy stuff, while the things that really make the culture of a modern tech company are ignored, on purpose.
PS: Google is just an example, as some of these practices. Consider the whole before nitpicking one practice you don’t like before replying.
You cannot make a fake bean bag, or a fake dress code, can you?
If you don't understand what is causal - the original case being that a radio operator uses a radio to talk to someone to get cargo delivered - then there's no amount of mimicry that works. You can make everyone wear US army uniforms, even real ones, and it doesn't cause cargo to arrive.
So long as you are not addressing the actual issue, it won't be addressed. If banks want to hire tech employees they have to pay them, and they have to respect them.
Adding a bunch of toys is neither of these things.
After all, the mud and the sticks were not fake, were they?
But wouldn't "fake it till you make it" have a chance here?
What's fake is trying to get real results without real change.
Art institutions in peripheral cities are often victims of mimetic isomorphism. They try to emulate what institutions in major art centres are doing, but without the supporting thick soup of intellectual and artistic talent.
Maybe 5-10 years back, when Tech was everyone's darling and Wall St reputation was in tatters after 2008 crash, higher packages alone wouldn't have been sufficient. But tech is sufficiently tarnished now.
Company: "We need X, we're paying Y"
Friend: "For Y you're really looking more at Z"
Company: "We don't have the budget for Z, we're paying Y. And don't forget, we want the best"
Friend: "The pickings are slim, here is the best I can do"
Company: "These are all garbage"
3 months of mediocre candidates later
Company: "Holy shit we need to fill this role immediately, get a contractor! We'll pay Z*3
Friend: "Look at all these top tier candidates I have"
Role filled within a few days.
As soon as that developer is used to his half a million take home, which takes roughly three years, he'll start looking for a new pasture.
So the understanding has formed that in order to retain employees, you must show them that the grass over there is not actually that much greener. That we also have interesting projects (read: internal mobility), career opportunities and the aforementioned bean bag chairs.
This is false. A high salary fixes the loyalty problem. It won't, however, fix the motivation or competence problems.
> As soon as that developer is used to his half a million take home, which takes roughly three years, he'll start looking for a new pasture.
He won't if you're paying above market rates. Especially if that salary comes with strings attached. (Bonuses, stock, etc.)
The "strings" don't work that well either: deferred comp matching is pretty much standard these days.
"High salary" means "above market rate salary", i.e., you're the one who offers more than everyone else.
Yes, it does definitely create loyalty, to pretend otherwise is stupid. There are some things people won't do for money, but it's an awfully small list.
*Some conditions apply
This works very well for the tobacco industry.
- Give me a powerful enough computer that it provides me no hindrance, with a couple of decent sized widescreen monitors so that I can see everything I'm working on at once. The more balls I need in the air at the same time, the more monitor space I need.
- Allow me the latitude to pick my own tools without shoving your security policy down my throat every 10 minutes.
- Give me room to speak my mind freely and consider my opinion with the kind of respect that's worthy of the paycheque you sign me every month.
- Don't mire me down in meetings and process beyond what we need to effectively produce dependable results.
- Provide some occasional time that we can gel as a team.
- Show me where I can get food and tea for a reasonable price. Free tea and milk and a kettle that actually boils water if you really want to impress me.
- Allow me the facility to work from home without complaint if needs dictate.
- Trust me to do the job you pay me a small fortune to do. Treat me with the kind of trust you'd expect to be treated with if you were in my seat.
- Judge me based on my results, don't micromanage me. You're not my Mother, I'm not an infant. You hired me because you believed I can do the job. I can. Get out of my way and let me.
- Recognize everyone's contributions to the team. I don't need awards, but I do want the occasional "Hey, you really showed up for us this week, it was a critical week for our success and we couldn't have got through it without the contribution you made. You really made a difference and helped pull us through it. Thank you."
Realistically, most of my list is about being provided with decent tools, treated with respect and being allowed to do my job without hindrance...and tea.
I don't need gimmicks and bowling alleys, table tennis, sleep pods, etc. I'm happy when I feel like I'm providing a meaningful contribution. I've paid my dues many times over and I continue to pay them every day, but I'm not here to impress you or claw for recognition. I'm here because I can make a real difference. So let me.
Edit: Although, if there were a free gym with decent equipment and showers onsite, I wouldn't knock that. Perhaps spend some of the money from all your other gimmicks to pay for a handful of personal trainers we don't have to pay for and allow us enough time during the day to work out - i.e. lunch break or whatever.
All your points are basically counterpoints to a low trust environment. Such places usually aren't fixable, and anyone stuck in one should start looking for other opportunities ASAP, even if they've only had the job for less than a year.
If you didn't trust me to do the job you hired me for, why am I here and why do you pay me so much? Why not hire an intern for almost nothing and micromanage them instead because you'd be in the same position and you could give yourself a nice fat bonus with the budget you're saving.
In the UK at least, it seems like it's not so much about mimicking tech workspaces as it is dropping the old requirements to wear a suit and be in at 8.30am sharp. My last contract for a bank was quite relaxed, we did some interesting stuff around cloud infrastructure management using (and building) in-house tools, built things with microservices etc etc. It was quite fun and the team were good people.
The money is the selling point.
- worse work-life balance
- worse benefits
- worse point on the good-evil scale
If someone from a smaller tech company (which has worse pay or work life balance than a bank) decides to change jobs, they’d almost certainly switch to a bigger tech company first. Banks simply aren’t competing with the kinds of small companies you’re thinking of for talent because they aren’t even in the competition.
They certainly are competing with Google, Facebook, etc, for new grads, but only when they’re able to offer much better pay.
Unless you are aiming for the shallowest of the shallow tech guys, superficial stuff won’t help you.
I'm sorry what now? I mean chill out on the dress code and maybe have some snacks, but. Jesus. Work doesn't need to be Disneyland.
If it's the difference between $90k at a hip tech company or $93k at a stuffy bank, people may choose the tech company. If it's $250k at Amazon or $120k at a startup, they'll probably choose Amazon. But those kind of spreads are less common in Europe.
The most impactful piece of Danish software in recent years, that I can think of, is an app called MobilePay. It lets you pay for things, send or request money from friends, stuff like that. It’s made by a bank.
I mean, we do have a few unicorn startups, but most software-companies build rather boring stuff with JAVA or C# and sell it to boring companies or the public sector.
Then there’s the benefits, but it’s really hard to compete on that in Denmark, because a lot of them are set by law and you can’t beat the public sector anyway. I work at a muniplacity, at significantly lower pay than I could get in the private sector.
But I get 15 weeks paid maternal leave (as a man), 6 weeks paid vacation, paid sick days, flexible hours, paid leave on the first and second day of a child’s sickness, two-four days of paid leave per child under 11, 15% pension, all sorts of insurances and 25.000dkr a year for additional education.
And when I said significantly more in the private sector, it’s exactly like you say, not an extra $100k a year unless I leave Denmark.
But as far as the premise of the article goes, I’d say that banks are tech companies in 2019.
- Google Maps
- Ruby On Rails
- Google V8 (The JS engine behind Chrome)
A lot of those things leave Denmark though. We don’t have that many interesting tech houses that actually stick around. I think there is an important distinction between “made by Danes” and “made in Denmark” when we’re talking about companies.
Yes, very good point. Most important things made in Denmark or by Danes eventually move out! I wrote about it here too:
In the EU you have tap and go for small amounts "buying a coffee, bus ticket" and chip and pin for larger items s using your debit or credit card.
Why not write people a cheque or just use cash - the problems with using internet banking and phones (you have heard of the ss7 problems)
If the Head of the Bank of England doesn't use online banking ill do the same as her.
Banks absolutely need to be tech companies. If US banks aren't, I suppose that explains why banking in the US is still decades behind in so many aspects. (I've heard some workers in the US still get a check they need to cash to get their salary, bouncing checks is still a thing, and of course there's credit cards, which are woefully insecure, but fill the holes in primitive payment systems.)
Local football team cannot justify the cost of having a card terminal, but can have a MobilePay phone and get donations and payment for coffee and cake at an event. You don't need cash on hand for paying for something you found through facebook marketplace.
You can use it for keeping your childrens class funds for activities, or a gift account on your workplace.
It's seriously disruptive for the more and more cashless society.
Tech companies are still tech companies in 2019, it’s just that some (many) countries barely have any. Denmark has Unity BTW.
Having lived and worked in Europe (Germany) for a few years now, I can confirm that this is the biggest lie/propaganda ever. It's particularly bad in the city I live in, where "bErLiN iS a PoOr N cHeAp CiTy So ThE sAlArIeS aReN't HiGh" is a meme disguised as a fact and spread around, especially to non-German newcomers. The massive salary spread is alive and well in Europe, but the people who benefit from it aren't talking about it enough (or at all, due to culture).
"Salaries are low in Europe" or "more fair across jobs" fooled even me when I first arrived, but now I see it for what it is - a salary suppression technique, a very effective one too since it's, by now, basically self-propagating. That "30k average wage before taxes" (that's the German figure, not sure about Denmark but they're all just as low and rigged) actually includes freelancers, part-timers and (I'm sure) even the under/unemployed! But you'll only know that after researching for the fine-print, a lot of times people parrot the "30k average" as a benchmark for full-time employment.
Some true salary figures from people I know in Berlin (I've seen matching payslips, so they're 100% not lying) include 65k for a frontend web dev with 2 years experience, 55k for marketing with 3 years experience, 60k for a junior non-technical PO. Mid-career devs (8-10 years experience) pull in 90k easy, while management/directors in startups get paid 120-200k. Currency is EUR btw, not $.
Yes all these figures, in Berlin, where they tell foreigners on Internet forums "45-60k is a LOT for a dev with 5-10 years experience, because cost of living in Berlin is low (it's not) so come on over and relocate!"
This is not helped by Europeans (particularly Germans and Scandinavians) being very reluctant to talk about salary, they are much more tight-lipped than Americans. So all you're gonna hear is mostly how Karen who moved to Berlin from America for her German boyfriend is making 28k at Zalando with her 3 years of experience. That's really the result of very effective wage-suppression propaganda - not a true reflection of market rates and nowhere near what informed people are getting paid.
We must have very different experience. I've found that people from the US are very reluctant to talk about how much they make; unless they're in the top brackets.
I would also argue that 60k+ is good for a junior position. We might disagree.
There are better ways to look these things up, like trade unions. There are plenty of them, and they all publish income data on a regular basis.
And it isn't something new, it's been like this since post-WW2.
Spot on. Companies often pay "marketing/PR" agencies to take all sort of actions to push salaries and expectations down, prevent unionization, suppress rumors about wrongdoing and so on.
Many of those agencies pay freelance private investigators, "media influencers" and even black hats.
The techniques include spreading rumors, writing articles, commenting on forums, creating fake reviews on glassdoors.
Even HR employees use wage-suppression techniques by publishing fake job ads, doing unneded interviews and so on.
However, 90k per year for a senior engineer is peanuts compared to the shareholder value a well-placed engineer can generate. I think this is reflected in the compensation of the major tech companies in the US; they can easily be double this amount or more. And you'd be hard-pressed to find those salaries for a non-director employed position in Europe. Some consultants can demand this rate, which interestingly provides a clear image on what a company is willing to pay for the right to fire someone at will.
What we're lacking in Europe, apart from seeing through the propaganda, is enough companies that can properly utilize technology and would benefit from attracting the best engineers. That would lead to better pay.
Don't forget, however, that cost of living is generally cheaper in much of Europe (maybe not in Switzerland or Scandinavia though), than in the big tech-hub cities in America. Rent is cheaper, food is cheaper (and better quality), healthcare is much cheaper. Also, you can pretty easily get along without a car, which is a huge expense for Americans.
I found food to be similar in price or cheaper when I was on holiday in San Francisco. Avoiding the car is doable if you live in one of these city centers, but then the dwelling will be 400k and up. And a car will run you ~7000k USD per year in TCO, unless you drive an old beater. Taxation is around 50% in aggregate, probably slightly higher if you take care and count all the smaller taxes.
Guaranteed healthcare, workers' rights, vacations, parental leave and social safety net in case of disaster are fantastic, though. Although you'd probably get better _treatment_ if you've good good insurance in the US. It's probably a better quality of life if you're in the bottom 60% of earning power.
I specifically mentioned Scandinavia as an exception in my post.
And Norway is even more exceptional, because it's not even in the EU, unlike the other Scandinavian nations.
>It's not as crazy expensive here as in the major tech hubs, of course, but you'll still pay at least 300k USD for a completely average dwelling
That's not far from what you'd pay in one of America's larger tech-hub cities, and far less than you'd pay in Silicon Valley.
I'm not trying to claim that Europe is as cheap as Thailand, I'm just pointing out that America is really expensive to live in these days in the nicer cities. Even in smaller crappy places, the rent has gotten ridiculous in the past decade or two.
But again, for the rest of your stuff, as I said, I specifically called out Scandinavia and Switzerland as exceptional and expensive. From what I saw in Germany, it's really cheap to live there compared to a major tech hub in the US, and the quality of life is much better.
If I were to guess, I would say that the lower bound is higher, giving a skewed distribution with a big bloc of salaries around the same avg. range. Couple this with a reluctance for high earners to speak openly about it and you have the illusion of everybody getting roughly the same.
A very clear sign that wages are kept superficially low, is that as a contractor I can get away with asking 3x what I would as a perm developer. In theory I get less job security this way, but in reality there is so much demand that this is a non-issue.
In reality, apart from some niche areas and companies, speaking in broad population terms, it is best under current economic culture and terms to treat every job, even "full-time with benefits" ones, as contract jobs subject to instant termination.
For the broad population, there really isn't much of a job stability ecosystem in the economy any longer. For the tech employment scene in general terms, job hop for the salary gains until you plateau out, work to your best abilities while you seek out and develop your next local maxima and start job hopping again towards that. Most managers, companies, institutions and the general market speak through their actions that they're perfectly fine with this state of affairs, protestations to the contrary. Let the economy speak, listen intently, and follow through the words to their logical conclusion.
I'm not a fan of this, as we're losing significant "complexity cohesion" where we comprehend and reason about complex solutions to solve entire complex problem domains which only come with time and stability as we are still emotional creatures that don't respond well to chronic stress. But scraping away micron-layers of low-hanging fruit will eventually, at some point before the heat death of the Universe, get us to approximately the same place.
Huh, salary is basically public information in most Scandinavian countries..
I currently live and work in Germany and I know that here it is much more tight lipped, it might even be a fireable offense for you to talk about your salary, which might explain why people don't really talk about it.
50-65k EUR as a starting salary in Berlin with under 2 years experience will make many people's eyeballs pop out and they'll start rambling about how "30k is the average and that's just disgustingly overpaid". Truth is though that it's reasonable to find those (tech or nontech, the trick is to not accept the first shit job, probably from Rocket Internet, that you get offered within 2 weeks of applying) and it's not overvalued - people making 30k are the ones being underpaid.
Also $100k for FAANG in the Silicon Valley is nothing. Assuming single young worker, 60+k EUR in Germany would be very competitive with the 100-150k USD range in the valley because you can rent a NICE studio apartment for 800-1000 EUR, spending 30-40 EUR on a night out is already plenty and in bigger cities like Berlin, you can get away without a car (it's still uncomfortable and inconvenient, but much less so if you're single, and certainly much better than BART and 99% of American cities).
If you're taking 6 figures in a LCOL US city where you're socking away 70% of your income as savings at under age 30, then yes, there's no equivalent to be found in Europe.
I do personally do care lot about the environments where I spend most of my time (my home, office, places I hang out). People are visual and many prefer nice and comforting environments over bad ones.
Imagine being a candidate and interviewing few companies. One company is low ceilings office space style place from the 80s, and other one is nicely designed one and see yourself coming there each work day. Each of them offer you about the same role and compensation, then which one do you choose? Obviously its probably never the main reason but can be a reason to tip someone over.
Of course we can't know what exactly the survey in question asked, which is key. If someone offered me a prettier office for a $100 a year pay cut, then, sure.
To put it another way
catered lunch = just another meeting except with food
going out to lunch = break/mini social event with friends
The problem with catered lunch is that it can frequently be something I don't want to eat, like cheap pizza.
For me, the less time I have to spend at work with my coworkers, the better. I already spend 8 hours/day with them, I don't want to spend more.
I worked at a PwC office for a while but couldn't stand it. In this case I ranked the work place as more important than salary.
Of course there's a point where this doesn't hold up. I would not work for free, but the last time I did a round of interviewing and got multiple offers, the top contenders were 100% based on non-salary motivations, such as the team, the atmosphere, work-life balance, free healthy lunch and even natural light.
Before I freelanced, I often had multiple job offers to choose from, and regularly went for the lowest pay because it seemed like the most interesting opportunity. None of those were ever banks though. And my current project at a bank is more interesting than all of those others.
The only real downside is that I don't walk around in flip-flops and shorts in summer. Other than that they're fine.
The dude is selling his services.
You've got to be able to take a single photo showing desks with laptops, brightly coloured couches, big windows with no blinds, a kitchen, and exposed duct work or wooden beams, all in the same photo.
However, that doesn't mean there aren't minimum requirements for all aspects of a job, including both "workspace" and "pay". It's just that when it comes down to it, I have a harder time finding a great workplace than I do finding great pay.
But my theory is that the new IT boss didn't like that I would say when an idea wasn't a good one, and so he stopped my raises to get rid of me without making it look like he was the reason.
As I left, they opened up job openings for 7 people at what I earned at my new job.
That makes me sound incompetent, but I was the guy that everyone called when there was a problem. Even when I wasn't "on call", I still got called. So I'm reasonably confident that it wasn't a skill or knowledge issue. Plus, I'm still at that new job and making a fair bit more than than when I started.
Why not? I spend a lot of time at my workspace, so it's only natural for me to choose a nice one.
Probably said by some exec.
As creating that workspace is way way cheaper than actually paying a decent wage
This is border line fake news of bad journalism at its finest.
I say finishing up because for the amount of money they're pouring into the center they aren't seeing what they want, so they downsized the contract I'm on and are severely limiting the funding going to this center. To the point where 2 weeks ago a breakfast and learn had to be cancelled because they couldn't get approval to buy 2 dozen bagels or something similar.
So I would take this with a grain of salt. I imagine most of the bigger companies taking this route will either roll back their spend on this or have the workers pay the piper within a year or three.
Granted, they aren't really scrum or (that) fast moving and there's tons of red tape for obvious security reasons, but it does lend well to work life balance. I might look into a similar role when I start looking again.
They will tell you that all the bank is doing is simply putting right people in right places an managing them wisely.
Is this a real saying? Or a typo?
Well...yes if you're interviewing with Silicon Valley Bank or Monzo. I'd be surprised if this is how Citi or Credit Suisse see themselves :-)
I was recently in a loop with Goldman Sachs, Citi, cap1 and some others, and they all said this. And granted, some really were.
Some were not.
I hate ping pong, I have no desire to play it, but people get upset when I don't want to play it with them. I'm happy to sit round, drink a couple of beers, and talk shit on my Friday afternoon, but I just really don't want to play ping pong.
There was a war of words for a few weeks between the pro and anti factions until someone discovered silent pingpong balls!
The best option is to provide flexibility as needed and build up infrastructure around that.
I worked entirely remotely for about a year and I hated it. Maybe it’s not a skill I have, but I definitely felt isolated and like something was lost.
I’ve also read somewhere (sorry don’t remember the specific source) that people who work entirely remotely when others are in an office tend to lose out on things like promotions and end up making less.