So, I noticed some major differences between my new environment and the hell -hole I used to work in before. In this normal job vs investment banking count - it seems the former is in the lead by far in terms of general office aesthetics, decor, environment etc for e.g. -
- Flowers on people's desk vs morbid " tombstones" - I never noticed how barren and devoid of personal items were desks in investment banking. Ofcourse that could be a function of people not having personal lives. At the most - you would find desks with lots of vitamin supplements to compensate for the lack of fresh air and sleep, in an endeavor to infuse some energy in those mind-numbed zombies. Another frequently seen item are those silly deal tombstones that bankers like to proudly display on their desks - as a testament of how much of their time was spent destroying value.
- Free treats in office vs crappy coffee or worse redbull - I walk around my office and invariably, there is free food lying around . On Valentine's day - someone actually took the trouble of baking heart shaped brownies and left it on a table for people to snack on. Most of the time - there will be fresh fruit or chocolate - apparently its all part of the culture of giving and receiving. Ya right - try teaching that lesson to the IB guys - " giving people a hard time" and " receiving useless mark-ups and comments" are the only culture they know.
- People take holidays for Valentine's day vs people never getting to take their holidays - Taking a holiday in investment banking was as predictable as winning the lottery - you'd probably never win it. Here, on the other hand - people take holidays for Valentine's day, for birthday's, for maternity wear shopping, for their Sky engineer coming over- EVERY reason is legit. In investment banking, even if someone died, they'd probably ask you if it is a blood relation and how close.
- Brightly colored chairs vs depressingly dull decor - This office has beautiful break-out areas with funky, multi-colored furniture (with an emphasis on red) to host team meetings and informal chats. The idea is that relaxed employees make for happy, productive employees. On the other hand, I dont know if the interior designer who designed investment banking floors was told to remind employees of a morgue or worse still - brainwash employees into believing the only color they ll ever see is on their powerpoint slides.
- Women vs err... none at all - Thats all you see - beautiful, ugly, thin, fat - but women of all shapes and sizes. For the last 5 years - having worked in only all - male environments - to suddenly see an explosion of women was discomforting at first. But once you get used to it, u realise an adverse sex-ratio breeds this unhealthy testosterone filled culture where soon women start to ape men. All much too evidenced by the strange species of female MD's that roam investment banks.
- People smiling and laughing vs grim, stressed faces - It was all too common to slink into your desk at 10 am in the morning and scowl till lunch in IB. As the day progresses, your mood would also invariably get worse, where ultimately you start to overlook niceties such as saying good-morning or good nights. Of course when you leave at 2 am, you wish everyone else has a frigging terrible night and who the hell cares about their morning anyway.
- A boss who acknowledges you vs a complete a$$h%& - This was HUUGEE for me. The fact that my boss actually takes time to talk to me, invest time with me and is keen on mentoring me was a first. I came from a place where my last boss would hardly every look at me and one of the kindest things he ever said to me was that it was " reckless " of me to get the flu!! I wanted to tell my new boss - " You had me at Hello ... " :)
- A special mention to this particular practise of a team where I previously worked was they had a huge board on which they stuck pictures of people in their most fatigued state. So, pictures of people completely drained, exhausted, collapsed on their desk were regularly clicked by the team VP's as a " joke" !! It was almost like a Wall of Shame to perversely motivate other people to work harder else they would end up there - extrinsic motivation at its best....
I am sure, like most relationships - when the " honeymoon" phase is over and you start to notice the zits on your partner's face - I will also start to notice the chinks in my currently perfect job as time passes by. But so far - I appreciate the small stuff ......