News & Politics

Great Places to Work: Looking Beyond Local

While The Washingtonian pays the most attention to hometown firms when choosing Great Places to Work, many good companies are headquartered elsewhere. Here are six that scored well in our survey.

At Verizon Wireless, employees such as Bernadette Isons-Bell find room to learn and advance. Photograph by Vincent Ricardel.

There is no association between this article and the San Francisco consulting firm that uses the trademark GREAT PLACES TO WORK ® 

Blattner Brunner
This Pittsburgh-based agency, which has 20 employees in DC and 180 nationwide, does public relations, advertising, direct marketing, and design for such clients as AARP, the American Bankers Association, the National Association of Broadcasters, and Time Warner Cable.
The Washington office has a creative feel, with bright-red walls, columns wrapped in chalkboard paint, and a Ping-Pong table. The young staff—most are under 35—say the work is interesting. Flexibility is another perk: Everyone sets his or her own schedule.
Blattner Brunner, 1250 I St., NW, Suite 1200; 202-741-8000;

Control Risks
Interested in doing background investigations for a reality-TV show? Designing security for a high-net-worth individual? Would you know how to respond to a kidnapping?
London-based Control Risks provides risk analysis, crisis management, and other security-related services. About 30 people work in its Washington office; the company has more than 900 employees on five continents.
Employees love that the work draws colleagues with interesting backgrounds.
“I was driving into London a few years back with our former CEO, who casually pointed to a tall building and said, ‘I used to rappel off that building,” says Tom Gillikin, financial controller for North America, who works in the DC office. “He had been part of a counterterrorism team.”
Control Risks, 1600 K St., NW, Suite 450; 202-449-3330;

North Highland Company
This business-management and technology consulting firm was founded on an unusual premise: Employees would not travel.
Out-of-town travel is common in consulting, but almost all employees at this Atlanta-based firm have ten or more years’ experience—and a lot of miles behind them.
“I am finally able to achieve a work/life balance after a career in consulting that left no room for a life,” says senior manager Thomas Pak.
The 50 Washington employees work for clients here; North Highland has more than 500 employees in 14 offices around the country.
North Highland Company, 1800 N. Kent St., Suite 1130, Arlington; 703-253-8300;

Rand Corporation
This California-based nonprofit does research for government and nongovernment clients on issues ranging from healthcare reform to criminal justice. A “playground for active minds,” as one employee calls it, Rand counts Condoleezza Rice as a former intern.
Employees—there are 300 in Washington, 1,350 total—enjoy the academic environment. They like that Rand conducts nonpartisan analysis, and that decision-makers pay attention to and use its findings.
It’s not all work: To encourage them to take time off, employees earn slightly more in a pay period when they use vacation.
Rand Corporation, 1200 S. Hayes St., Arlington; 703-413-1100;

The Staubach Company
Volkswagen of America announced in September that it was moving its US headquarters from Michigan to Herndon. The Texas-based Staubach Company played a key role in that move.
The real-estate advisory firm specializes in helping companies navigate the corporate real-estate process. It was founded by former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach, so it’s fitting that employees say they love the sense of teamwork. That’s fostered by monthly happy hours, a softball team, catered lunch every other Friday, and an annual day retreat to a Chesapeake Bay resort to play golf and enjoy the spa for the Washington office, which has 94 employees.
Add to that 100-percent company-paid healthcare premiums and profit sharing, and the company earns staff loyalty: Last year, turnover was less than 5 percent.
The Staubach Company—Northeast, 575 Seventh St., NW, Suite 400; 202-783-8181;

Verizon Wireless
Verizon’s regional president—the New Jersey–based company has a regional headquarters in Laurel with more than 3,000 employees—started as a customer-service representative. She’s not alone: Many of the executives have been promoted from within.
Employees praise the integrity, diversity, and good pay. Working Mother named Verizon Wireless a top workplace for mothers, and its generous benefits include prenatal exercise classes and education. It has donated more than half a million dollars to local domestic-violence-prevention programs.
Verizon Wireless, 7600 Montpelier Rd., Laurel; 240-568-2000;

Editor in chief

Sherri Dalphonse joined Washingtonian in 1986 as an editorial intern, and worked her way to the top of the masthead when she was named editor-in-chief in 2022. She oversees the magazine’s editorial staff, and guides the magazine’s stories and direction. She lives in DC.