I Moved From Corporate To A Start-Up And I Hated The Culture3 min read

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People often call their workplace their second homes and for good reasons. If you sit down to calculate, most people spend 60 percent of their lives at their workplace (it’s a total of 90,360 hours), which is way more than the amount of time they spend at home. So, there’s bound to be a certain kind of comfort that you get from your working space and your colleagues… heck, even your chair! Whether you spend 10 years in the same organisation or just 10 months, you certainly have a sense of comfort and satisfaction coming in from your working space.

I’ve been working for over eight years now and since I’ve always been in a formal environment, I wondered what a casual, flexible work atmosphere would be like. So, after much thought, I took the plunge and decided to join a new-age internet media company.

The change was massive.

I was travelling more, working with a younger crowd, and… sadly… I had no desk! Laptop, yes!

But there was no dedicated desk space to sit and get comfortable. Hence, I never really warmed up to my new place of work. I always felt like a guest, someone who’ll probably have to fight every morning for her chair and then make sure the spot she takes isn’t someone’s.  But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I oversaw a website which had no real framework. While I understand that this is how startups function with everyone pitching in, and learning on the go, I missed my set structure. I longed for a style sheet, work emails, dedicated meeting days and basically everything that made work more organised and helped me focus. The “let’s just jump in and learn along the way” attitude just made it harder for me to learn and grasp things.

I was used to taking time and reviewing my work while the culture here was to push out as much as possible, as fast as possible. This invariably led to unnecessary pressure that culminated into a lot of mistakes that I wouldn’t make otherwise. At the end of the day, I wasn’t proud of the work that I was doing, and this was a serious issue for me.

Add to that the culture of no fixed lunch timings! How do you work without lunch? Apparently, 1.30 pm is too early to eat and my body clock just wouldn’t understand that!

I also finally figured that “flexible working timings” in a start-up means: come in later, stay till much later. Ughh! Something I absolutely hated.

The work progressed at 10x speed and even though I’ve worked for an internet company in the past, this was all a little too fast to grasp! I was invariably working till 10 pm every night and somehow still not meeting my deadlines.

Another big change in a start-up, when compared to a corporate, is the lack of privacy, which I wasn’t used to. The culture where people talk on top of their voices, watch YouTube videos on full volume and discuss client pitches as if the entire office is involved, doesn’t work for someone who needs peace to work! How exactly am I supposed to concentrate on anything this way?

Also, in a start-up be ready for people to work from wherever they are and not really come to work. This makes work easy, sure, but for me to adjust to a new workplace and colleague purely over email, didn’t help. I needed my coffee break and water cooler conversations.

At the end of the day, all of this just ended up making me frustrated, unhappy, and slightly angry. Not a great combination to work with, in the best of circumstances. The feeling of not fitting in also crept in and I felt like a misfit no matter what I did.

When I told people, they shot back with, “You’ll take time to adjust”, “This is all so new for you, don’t rush into it”, “Relax, it happens!”

Slowly but surely, I was beginning to despise everything in that workplace. Be it the people, the work, the office or the laid-back environment. And after trying really hard for two months, I gave up!  Believe it or not, I like the more formal work environment, with fixed timings and proper desk space!

To me, the work and work culture are equally important. And I think this is a pretty good reason to give up on a job because when you think long-term, my comfort and convenience, and a general feeling of satisfaction and enjoyment at work are above everything else. 

Looking to change your job? Struggling with work-life balance? Join our exclusive Facebook group, Kool Kanya InnerCircle and connect with like-minded working women, share your journey and support each other to build a career you love.

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