Today, Seth Godin writes about where you park and the message it sends to the people you work with. While we might wonder what Seth is doing watching people park and then re-park their cars, he makes some good points. It's really about whether you are in it for you or if the customers come first.
His post was timely because new parking restrictions were put into place for building 19 (AKA "the recruiting building") which I sit in. This is our busiest recruiting season. Where industry (experienced) recruiting chuggs along all year long (more or less), campus recruiting activity spikes at certain times of year; this being one of them. While space planners back in the eighties (I'm only guessing based on the architecture of our building; deep down, it's a building that really wants to Wang Chung tonight, whatever that means) probably thought about things like office occupancy, they may not have considered what Microsoft was going to look like twenty years later (or whether we would like honey colored oak..I'm just saying).
What we have now is a bit of a parking "crisis". I use that word because parking can really upset people. You have witnessed this, haven't you? The people that troll the Target parking lot for a "good" spot only to shake a fist at someone who gets there first? And the time you spent trolling could have been used walking to the store and who couldn't use just a little more exercise in their day? We aren't asking you to run a marathon, just walk from an available parking space to the store. But anyway.
The last thing we want at this time of year is for an interview candidate to have to drive around looking for an available parking spot. I don't forget what it was like to be a candidate (and I never will). Having a parking issue before an interview does not bode well for your success in the process. It's the kind of thing that can start your day off on the wrong foot. So what our GM does at this time of year is bans us from parking in our lot M,T, Th, Fri. Yes, we have to park....across the street (oh no! Not walking across the street!!) What we get in return is pretty awesome. While the parking ban is in effect, we have a free latte cart in our lobby. It's for us in staffing and our candidates (who I recommend get a decaf or half-caf if they are anything like me). So for walking across the street I get a free latte (or several)? Sign me up!
And like Seth, I watch who does not follow the parking restrictions (just a few to be sure...perhaps they missed the memo). I can't help it; I have a big office window facing the parking lot and sometimes I look outside while I ponder the future of marketing candidate generation at Microsoft and whether I should stop off and pick something up for dinner. In my opinion, we are all about the candidate (all of us) or we are not. If walking across the street (and collecting a free latte in the process) is what it takes to make for a better candidate experience, I'm happy to invest in those three extra minutes of walking time. I'll also be watching for anyone from other buildings coming over to partake of our cart...don't even try it : ) Incidentally, it's not a bad employee experience either. They could just ban us from parking there because it's the right thing to do. The fact that I get my grande nonfat sugar free vanilla too is just the foam on the top of the latte.