OWL Magazine Korea

Korea’s Google, ‘Jennifer Soft’s 33 Prohibitions’

Aired on January 6, 2013, the program “Conditions of a Leader” on SBS introduced “Jennifer Soft,” located in Paju, creating a significant buzz. Jennifer Soft, practicing advanced “dream welfare” in Korea, captured attention for its unconventional corporate culture.

“The Free-spirited Atmosphere of Jennifer Soft”

The program depicted Jennifer Soft in stark contrast to the typical corporate culture in Korea. While other companies were in the midst of busy work hours around 2 PM, Jennifer Soft employees were shown playing musical instruments or swimming, enjoying their individual time.

The company provided facilities like cafes, kids’ rooms, and a swimming pool, accessible to employees even during working hours. Working hours, including swimming, were specified as 7 hours per day and 35 hours per week, with the flexibility to work whenever and wherever. The program even showcased instances where employees emailed the company if they didn’t feel like coming to the office, and such requests were accepted by the CEO.

Additionally, the program highlighted extravagant welfare benefits, including coffee made by a professional barista, dishes prepared by a former hotel chef, a one million won gift for each childbirth, a family overseas trip for those with 5 years of service, and a two-month sabbatical for those with 10 years of service.

“Jennifer Soft in Paju Heyri Art Village”

Situated within Paju Heyri Art Village, Jennifer Soft’s office, though not large, featured a cafe on the first floor and a swimming pool in the basement, open to local residents. The company’s impressive practice of hiring all employees as regular staff attracted attention as a pioneer in providing advanced welfare benefits in Korea.

“Jennifer Soft’s 33 Prohibitions”

Beyond a favorable work environment and welfare benefits, Jennifer Soft distinguishes itself with its corporate philosophy, maintained through “33 prohibitions” to uphold its unique culture. These prohibitions outline not what employees should do but behaviors they should avoid. The content significantly deviates from typical workplace prohibitions, garnering attention.

Below are the 33 prohibitions set by Jennifer Soft:

  • Don’t ask, “Where are you now?” or “What are you doing?” during a call.
  • Don’t say, “I’m in a meeting; I’ll call you back later” to family calls. Family calls take priority over any work.
  • Avoid calling colleagues outside working hours, unless it’s for love!
  • Don’t hesitate to leave when it’s time to leave. Leave confidently.
  • Don’t rush to have lunch at the same time. Time is free; eat what you want.
  • Don’t struggle to wear formal business attire. Flaunt your personality comfortably.
  • Don’t buy chocolates during business trips. It may burden someone who has to buy them.
  • Don’t force colleagues to attend gatherings. Play freely with those who want to go.
  • Don’t be swayed by others. You are the protagonist of your own life.
  • Don’t fear failure. Challenges are ours; responsibility lies with the company’s CEO.
  • Don’t do things halfway. Details matter.
  • Don’t only work in the office. Sometimes work from a cafe.
  • Avoid overtime. Rest and time with family give us strength.
  • Don’t work too much. It’s okay to play occasionally.
  • Don’t stay silent during meetings. Silence is negative; always speak up.
  • Don’t laugh at others, even as a joke. You may be smiling, but the other person may be hurt.
  • Don’t use informal language. Always respect each other.
  • Don’t be bound by formalities. Focus on the essence.
  • Don’t sneak away during discussions. Good ideas and creativity emerge in shared stories.
  • Don’t do things alone. Strength comes from working together.
  • Don’t hesitate to express your emotions.
  • Don’t turn away when others are struggling. Listen to their stories and comfort them.
  • Don’t get arrogant, thinking you’ve done everything alone. We did it together.
  • Don’t talk behind others’ backs. Look each other in the eyes and talk.
  • Don’t frown. Smile.
  • Don’t pull weeds in the garden. Weeding is the CEO’s job.
  • Don’t compete. Cooperate with each other.
  • Don’t skip meals. Always eat!
  • Don’t limit and restrict your potential. Always be open-minded!
  • Don’t force yourself. Live a thrilling life doing what you love.
  • Don’t neglect thinking and studying. It’s our duty as a community.
  • Don’t think this is the end. Keep thinking.
  • Don’t sacrifice yourself for the company. Your life comes first.

With these 33 prohibitions, Jennifer Soft seems to be shaping a free and creative corporate culture based on its unique operational philosophy. If other companies want to grow successfully with excellent talents, it might be worth considering elements that can be benchmarked from Jennifer Soft.