January is a time for reflection. The bonhomie (and seemingly endless packets of biscuits) of the festive season has faded into little more than a half-vanished memory. You’re cold, tired and realising you’re probably not actually going to spend as much time in the gym as you told yourself, either. Still, new starts beckon and maybe it’s the right time for a new job too. If you’re feeling this way, you’re in luck as Working Not Working has released its annual survey charting the companies creatives would do anything to work for. As ever it comprises of 50 companies voted for based on culture and output.
Ten companies – including Adobe, Glossier, and WeWork — made the list for the first time, while a staggering 19 found themselves nestled in the all important top 50 for the fifth year in a row. Pixar, Pentagram, Patagonia and the rest: well done.
The overall winner was Oregonian sportswear giant, Nike. For this year’s incarnation of the poll, WNW has, alongside the traditional top 50, broken down the list into easily-digestible mini-categories.
Anyone looking for a career change or just a general snoop can hop over to the Working Not Working website to get a better understanding of how they whittled 2,832 companies down to a solid 50.
We decided to grill Working Not Working’s co-founder Justin Gignac about this year’s list. Here’s what he had to say.
It’s Nice That: Why do you think that 19 of this year’s top 50 have found a place in the list for five years running? What is it about the prospect of working at a Patagonia or a Airbnb that excites people?
Justin Gignac: Most of the companies that have staying power on this list over the past five years are very clear on their mission and what they stand for whether they are a brand, agency, or studio. And they consistently do work that reinforces those values. Two of the best examples are Nike’s support of Colin Kaepernick as the face of their campaign or Patagonia saying “The President Stole Your Land” on their homepage the day after Trump reduced the size of two U.S. National Parks for industrialization of natural resources. Those are bold statements that get attention and serve as beacons to talent who align with their ethos.
Will Nike ever not be regarded so highly?
It’s possible they could lose their lustre. Nike has been fortunate to have built up decades of reverence and credibility in popular culture that has allowed it to survive scandals—whether it’s workplace conditions overseas or even here in the U.S. last year. That goodwill won’t necessarily last forever. Like any company, they need to continue to adapt and do better. Unlike many companies, they benefit from a halo effect from the athletes they endorse. Those athletes become the brand. A great example is that in surveying the WNW community, 74% responded that Nike’s recent Colin Kaepernick ad makes them more likely to take a job at Nike.
Do you feel that the list points toward any recent trends in the creative sphere?
There’s seems to be a desire by creatives to work with more brands, tech and media companies. Since many design and creativity focused companies have found success in the past decade (Apple, Airbnb, Netflix, etc.) others are now following their lead and investing in building in-house creative departments. In the past, there used to be a stigma that working in-house at a brand you’d be left doing the least desirable creative work while their branding and ad agencies got the best opportunities. That’s not the case anymore.
I also like seeing the Honorable Mention list because it’s often an indicator of who is on the way up and who is on the way out. Four companies from last year’s Honorable Mention list cracked this year’s top 50: Dropbox, The Mill, Penguin Random House, and Refinery29 while 14 from last year’s list didn’t make the Top 50 or Honorable Mention this time around.