Fog Creek Software
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Free soda?

Oh, I'm there!

Guy Incognito
Wednesday, June 11, 2003

I would jump at the chance to work at a company like FogCreek.  I'm sure the bad comes with the good there too, but it would at least be a chance to get into the IT business.  Free soda, (or where I come from they call it "pop") that's an added bonus, most employers give you free water from the water fountain (or where I come from they call it a "bubbler").

If only I lived in NYC.

Dave B.
Wednesday, June 11, 2003

The only reason companies give you free coffe ( and lately espresso ) is because caffiene makes you more effective. Plus going to the kitchen rather than down the street means spending 5 minutes getting coffee rather than a half hour, and you forget how nice it is to be outside, so you don't mind spending more time inside.

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Although I drink a lot of caffinated products myself (to the point where I can get headaches if I go a couple of days without them), I don't agree that it makes you more objectively more effective.  It only seems that way when you're addicted (as I am).

But I agree with the second point, and it ties into Joel's previous posts on 'the flow' and minimizing interruptions.

Mister Fancypants
Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Er, ignore that first 'more'

Mister Fancypants
Wednesday, June 11, 2003

I dunno, I don't drink much caffiene at all to the point where a soda at 4pm can keep me up all night. The occasional soda at noon really helped me buckle down and stop procrastinating for that long afternoon stretch.

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, June 11, 2003

I get annoyed when I see a company announcing that they give their employees free soda or they have a subsidized cafeteria.  What I want to hear about on their "Careers" web page is that they provide a quiet office space and other features that provide a pleasant and productive work environment.  They should pay me enough that I can afford soda and give me the money to decide whether I want to eat in the cafeteria or the restaurant down the road.

OTOH, companies that provide freebies, such as free coffee, should provide alternatives for those who don't drink coffee. Good quality tea and soda are good alternatives.

I have a Dr Pepper and donut in the morning habit, and avoid caffiene after that.

I've been living on the East coast too long.  I never call it pop anymore.

mackinac
Wednesday, June 11, 2003

I think "Free soda" is very subject to cargo cultism.

A quality workplace with good management will look at the cost of providing free soda to its staff (figure $15/week/person) and realize that for less than 1% of their personnel cost they can get a) a huge morale boost, b) improved productivity (time not spent scrounging for change or going downstairs to the cafeteria), and c) a sales point for hiring.

Now, what a cargo cult place will do is think "Microsoft gives its staff free soda, and they make billions. We'll give our staff free soda." These are the places where, when they have forty people working for them, see a $31,200 annual line item and think it's a savings to cut it.

This, of course, shows their stupidity in sharp relief, since the only thing worse than not offering a benefit is offering it then taking it away.

And for the non-soda drinkers, there is no excuse for any workplace not to have a water cooler.

Philo

Philo
Wednesday, June 11, 2003

OK you guys must be really desperate if you're talking about that :) That line in the job posting was practically meant as a joke. I should have made more of an effort to talk about
* private offices
* long vacations
* dignity and respect
* opportunity to work on really cool software
* pool table, leather couches, and plasma tv in the new office (not built yet, but what the heck)
* Taco Bell within 10 seconds of the front door of the new office...

Unfortunately in today's job market you don't have to blab about benefits. You could write

BENEFITS
* You will not be beaten more than once a day
* 8 minute bathroom break every Friday
* Poke in the eye with a sharp stick

and still get 100 resumes from C++ programmers. *sigh*

Joel Spolsky
Thursday, June 12, 2003

Incidentally, Joel, I think you've positioned yourself in a better place than most as an employer. I would think your best ad would read:

"Why should I work at Fog Creek?
"Well, you shouldn't work at Fog Creek unless you want to work for me. Who am I? Read my articles [link] and you decide if I'm the person you want to work for. I look forward to hearing from you."

In other words, you've put your management and business philosophies out there for any prospective job seeker to evaluate on their own. This already puts you head and shoulders above any other employer. No, writing good software development articles doesn't mean everyone wants to work for you, but it *does* give everyone a chance to decide before wasting your time and theirs.

Bravo!

Philo

Philo
Thursday, June 12, 2003

Good tip! I'll do that next time.

This was more of a customer service job than a software engineering job so I didn't really think of that.

Joel Spolsky
Thursday, June 12, 2003

Honestly, I think you could write:

"Come work for Joel. Take out my garbage and wash my car and I'll pay you $8 an hour. Part time job, but you get to hang out with me."

And you'd get a couple hundred recent college grads just looking to be close to the famous "Joel on Software guy."

I kid you not.

www.MarkTAW.com
Thursday, June 12, 2003

Mark - good idea, but isn't "Intern" more concise while meaning the same thing?

Philo

Philo
Thursday, June 12, 2003

Well, I never specified that this person would be doing anything at the Fog Creek offices. What if he's taking the trash out of Joel's apartment?

www.MarkTAW.com
Thursday, June 12, 2003

I'm with Philo. Moreover you should test them on the articles when they come for interview (nothing in depth "what do you think was the best/most important? why?", that kind of thing)...


Thursday, June 12, 2003

By the way, for you guys from New York:

What is an "Importer"? or more precisely, What do they do?

Dave B.
Thursday, June 12, 2003

Heh, I could bankrupt a small company with my soda habit (we call them cokes down here, but I didn't want to say that I had a coke habit).

I've cut back to 6 liters a day due to my health nut of a wife, but with freebies I could see easily hitting 8 liters/day again.

Joel when you decide to open that southern Appalachian branch office I'm there.  Bear and 'possum need software too right?

Steve Barbour
Thursday, June 12, 2003

Joel, make that "_quiet_ private office".

If you talk about the important things like that first, then I won't care if you add on free sodas, plasma TV or cushy sofa in the break room.

mackinac
Thursday, June 12, 2003

Poked in the eye with a stick...  you mentioned spam-resumes, and apparently there are people who do this because they know it's ineffective but need to show it to their unemployment office, so they can continue getting benefits.  They seem to be so sick and scared of working for another bad company that they want a vacation, even if it puts a hole in their resume.

sammy
Thursday, June 12, 2003

6....litres....a....day?????

Good grief man! I can't even begin to imagine what your blood sugar level is!?

6 litres...oh my!

Mark Hoffman
Thursday, June 12, 2003

"OK you guys must be really desperate if you're talking about that :) "

Joel,

Add free "Free Water" or "Free Air" instead of "Free Soda" and watch the analysis go thru the roof....

cLETUS
Thursday, June 12, 2003

Only tangentally related to the subject ...

I once worked at company which provided both free cokes and a water cooler ...

During a time of tightened budgets and cost cutting, the decision was made to eliminate the water cooler.  The coke machines were retained since eliminating them was recognized as too harmful for morale.

I had to start drinking cokes again when I got thirsty, since there was no way I was gonna drink the tap water.  Since I no longer had a cheap alternative, I easily must have cost the company two or three times as much on refreshments as when I did when I drank water.

Never again will I work at a company that doesn't recognize a false economy when it sees one.

Alyosha`
Thursday, June 12, 2003

Yes, because coke is so much better for you than tap water..... (?)

www.MarkTAW.com
Thursday, June 12, 2003

It may be officially potable, but in some places tap water is so wretched tasting you would opt for anything else if available.  Perhaps you haven't had the experience of drinking sulpher flavored water or some of the other unpleasantness that can come out of a faucet.

mackinac
Thursday, June 12, 2003

Do companies that offer free soda also offer free dental care?!

John Topley (www.johntopley.com)
Friday, June 13, 2003

Diet soda....

I'm probably addicted to nutrasweet in addition to the caffeine.

But...if we had filtered water on tap I would probably drink less cola.

Steve Barbour
Friday, June 13, 2003

"The only reason companies give you free coffe ( and lately espresso ) is because caffiene makes you more effective."

Studies show this not to be true. Caffeine doesn't make you more effective or more efficient. It makes you appear on the surface to be achieving more, but the work done under the extreme influence of caffeine is often much poorer quality.

"Do companies that offer free soda also offer free dental care?!"

Generally speaking, yes, they offer free dental insurance (which is very cheap, by the way, because it has annual limits, limited payouts, and usually a deductible to boot).

Bear in mind that coffee is probably actually more destructive to your teeth than soda is. It discolors, it contains acids, and most people drink coffee with sugar in it anyway. :-p

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Friday, June 13, 2003

Oh, and coffee drinkers almost always consumer way more quantity than soda drinkers. 12oz. per can of soda, drinking 2 or 3 a day. I don't know anybody who drinks coffee out of the traditional 8oz. mug any more... most people have those giant travel mugs and fill them a half dozen times a day. :-p

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Friday, June 13, 2003

Something that often puts me off companies is cheapo vending machine coffee. I don't know about other countries, but a lot of the stuff we get here (UK) tastes....well, pre-enjoyed.

If companies supply coffee, can they not at least make it drinkable?

Free fruit is also quite a good idea.

I suppose you substitute any cheap snack product really, but fruit is *good* for you and a bowl of it looks slightly more generous than a pile of crisps (chips).

Justin
Friday, June 13, 2003

> Studies show this not to be true.

Tell that to a floor of developers. You have to understand that in the corporate world it doesn't matter what IS true, it only matters what seems to be true.

> Give them fruit.

I agree. I wish I ate more fruit. And a fruitful snack would prevent me from going to Taco Bell mid afternoon to get a (taco bell item of the week).

www.MarkTAW.com
Friday, June 13, 2003

Just to add a little random information to this thread, I'm actually at the Microsoft campus in Mountain View CA today & tomorrow. They've got the free soda cooler there, and there's a sticker on it that says:

"Remember, these coolers cost $8 million a year..."

Wow, that's a lot of soda.

Chris Tavares
Monday, June 16, 2003

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