Does Corporate Office Culture Really Make You More Productive?

by Lauren Bowling on April 15, 2013

Corporate America Office PoliticsI never really considered myself anti-establishment, but talking about corporate office politics gets me fired up. I’ve been out of college and working in the corporate world for four years now, and I have to ask, what is with all the corporate mantras and office politics malarkey? Despite my age I’ve worked at a number of offices (eight to be exact) and at each one the organization tries to force a different set of values upon me.  I often dream of the day I’ll be able to work from home and set my own schedule, but for now I do enjoy going into the office.

….Until someone asks me to donate to the baby shower of someone I hardly know or talk to, or when I have to go to the office happy hour, “because everyone else is doing it.” Nowhere else but in corporate America would the excuse “everyone else is doing it” be an acceptable phrase. Haven’t we been taught since grade school to be ourselves and not follow everyone else and set our own path? Odd, especially considering corporate life is all about politics and presenting the best possible version of yourself, even if that’s not who you truly are. For me and who I am, I find corporate office culture makes me less productive, because I spend a lot of time being irritated at the way things “have” to be.

I don’t want to get into all that though. I just want to know if corporate office culture really makes you more productive and more successful in your careers and business life. After all, productivity = dollars, right?

A lot of business owners like to hold up Google as an example of what they aspire to be.  Google in fact, does seem to have a particular knack for hiring talent that truly believes in the Google mission “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Yes, I’m sure for most internet/software/marketing scions working at Google is a dream come true, because they are truly passionate about technology and information. Statistically though, does every single employee at Google (all 53,000 of them to be exact) really live and breathe the corporate mantra? NO, it is impossible. And yet they are one of the most productive and successful companies in the world.

Employees love being at Google because they get a wide variety of ballin’ benefits, like free lunch every day and nap pods to take breaks from their work. Most days Google is the exception to the corporate office mantra, not the ideal, because what they are really saying is, “If you want to recruit and retain the most talented employees, you need to treat them better than anyone else”. Even if you are a small start-up, benefits and employee happiness doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, many employers have seen a rising increase in employee retention by merely allowing their employees a flexible work schedule.

I know I’m young and still have a lot to learn, but from what I see living the company’s mission isn’t going to make me a better employee or work any harder. In my limited experience, people who work hard do so because of their own personal set of values and work ethic, not because they like drinking the office koolaid. Perhaps it is time we as a culture start to rethink the traditional office culture that is created in corporate America and learn to think outside of the box.

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Lauren Bowling

Lauren Bee is a freelance writer and social media specialist based in Atlanta, Georgia. When not writing for One Smart Dollar, she is hard at work blogging over at L Bee and the Money Tree. Lauren enjoys editing, red wine, karaoke and the color pink.

Latest posts by Lauren Bowling (see all)

  • Corporate culture can be a difficult beast to tame. It has been engrained that we must do this and that, but when other companies break that mold, they are deemed odd. I think we should embrace the change and give employees more flexibility.

  • I believe people work as hard as they think they need to in order to get to the next level. Many times money is the main motivator but over time some employees feel they own the culture and when new recruites come in they immediately assume that they should reflect that culture because that is the best way to operate. In some cases it may be true and in others they are setting themselves up for people pretending to be someone they are not. In an environment especially a corporate environment there has to be a balance between what should be and what really is.

  • david

    I could not agree more. I left IBM for a startup and was much happier at a company where flexibility was its mantra.

  • Statistics have shown again and again that pay matters, but being treated well matters more. As a small business owner, I try to keep that in mind. I offer a competitive salary and bonus package, but more importantly I want to create an productive, fun work environment where my employees feel heard and valued. I couldn’t do it without them and don’t pretend otherwise.

    • The little things really matter a lot and they make the good companies stand out from the rest. One thing I hated about working in corporate America was feeling like a number and not an employee that mattered.

  • Startups are notorious for being so much more worker friendly.

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