High heels and a fancy handbag, rushing out of Starbucks with a takeaway cup of flat white and a schedule full of clientele appointments. A typical starting scene of a Hollywood movie. That was what I imagined to be like as a working adult when I was studying for my last university paper that year. Like any other fresh graduate, I was enthusiastically building up my resume, creating accounts for as many job search portals as I could find and deciding on fancy descriptions to possibly attract headhunters to my LinkedIn profile. As fluffy as I would have thought of what a working environment should be, I did not end up in the “ideal” workforce that I decided to enter to. I don’t not know how it would be like, but I knew I was excited to join the team after walking out of the office from a 2 hour interview that day. It was probably one of the longest interview I had, but my least nervous one. At least I get to know everyone from my department – my soon to be colleagues.
Little did I know that I was in love with this culture and working environment which was totally opposite of what I thought was “ideal” when I step into the workforce. What started out in this journey was a 33 man team in a smaller office unit, until today with more than 60 coworkers and an office space, 3 times bigger. We are a young start up company, always agile, motivated and always ready for changes. But what motivates me to stay in this company, was that I was in love with the culture. The culture started out great, and then it got better and better. It all happened from our founder’s believe in the importance of a good working culture. This is a culture that prioritizes employees, and treating each other as equally important assets to the company.
5 things I knew I was in love with in the Smove Culture:
What I could never imagined myself in the working world was to be able to dress in comfy sneakers, sweaters and jeans, sitting on a bean bag with soft music plugged into my ears and munching on nuts. In Smove, we do not have a dress code, nor a strict allocated desk assigned to. Best of all, our pantry is always filled with healthy nuts, chips and ginger ale.
I find that when I am dressed in my most comfortable outfit, I was less distracted, less tired and more productive in getting my job done. This was exactly how I felt back in the days of a student – studying in a cozy cafe with sweaters, tights and warm socks. It wasn’t exactly what I thought of as a working adult, but it was productive. The idea of incorporating standing tables, couches and lot of bean bags in different corners of our offices also gave options to everyone to choose a space where they can be most productive in getting their work done. If somebody needs to work from home, an approval from their manager was what they need, depending on the situation. There is no strict rule as long as we get our job done.
- Autonomy in making decisions
We are encouraged to be innovative, and to make decisions that best suits the welfare of both our employees and the rest of our stakeholders. We do not have a stringent SOP that we need to abide closely to, and we are encouraged to personalize our decisions according to the needs and wants from our customers.
- We grow together as a company, and as individuals
Trials and errors are what makes up a startup company. In order to meet the needs of our targeted stakeholders and to stay relevant in our ever changing industry, we needed to stay agile, welcome mistakes and forecast changes. My leaders are more than just my superiors or bosses, but they’re our mentors. Every issues are viewed as a learning opportunity. Our leaders learnt with us, and have set a foundation for growth in every individuals. Every difficult issues were encouraged to be discussed with the team so that everyone gets to learn, and each time my manager would ask: “How will you handle it if this happened to you?”.
- We are authentic.
With continuous feedback and open communication, we were encouraged to be honest and truthful to one another. Even our CEO sets up one on one appointments for those who wishes to speak to him in regards to anything we had in mind. My manager strengthens the bond I had with the team because she listens attentively and was slow to judge. She empathises with us and explains processes that I did not otherwise understand. She bring on a strong influence of of open communication within our team, where we trust and liked each other. Our desks and bean bags are also arranged to face one another, which set an avenue for open discussions, clearer communications and endless jokes.
- We are a family, and we are ONE.
True enough with honest feedback and communications, we were able to be real, authentic and also trust each other. There was a huge sense of belongingness. This was how we formed a family in the workplace.
I remember very clearly of the day my CEO called my colleague and I into the meeting room. That season was probably the toughest period for the company that year. There were suppose to be tension, since the company wasn’t doing well. He sat us down and gave us one task. It was a task to plan a party. Yes, we were at our toughest season, but he recognised not just the problems we’re facing, but also the hard work that everyone has put in to fight through it.
Tony Hsieh once said: “Your personal core values define who you are, and a company’s core values ultimately define the company’s character and brand. For individuals, character is destiny. For organizations, culture is destiny.”
Today, I finally realised that my definition of an “ideal” working life was not what I really want to be in. Just many any other millenials, I was seeking for a job that was beyond just a paycheck, but also to prosper in a great culture, an environment full of opportunities, where I can grow, learn and be happy.
By: Regina, HR Coordinator