Work Culture Cognitive Dissonance: My Friend Works for a Great Terrible Company
I was chatting with a friend last night who is having a REALLY tough time at his new gig. He heard awesome things from friends who work there, the Glassdoor reviews were stellar, and the perks seemed great. But now that he got in the door he‘s shocked, and feels like something has to be wrong with him. He absolutely hates it there, and feels extremely guilty for feeling that way about a job so many people would kill to have.
Is he ungrateful? Overly picky? A mutant? How could this possibly happen?
His cognitive dissonance is stemming from his conflicting ideas that it’s both a great place to work, and a terrible place to work. Our brains want things to fit into clearly defined buckets. We want things to either be “good” or “bad”, being both at the same time doesn’t compute and often causes a lot of stress and guilt. But in reality, his conflicting beliefs about his workplace are accurate, because no two people experience a workplace in the same way.
I LOVE working remotely. It allows me to have 100% focus on my work, without any side conversation interruptions. I also love being able to switch up my workspace at any time since I can work from any location with an internet connection.Using Slack as my primary communication method is perfect for me, because I can check in, respond, and catch up with people once I’ve finished whatever I really need to focus on. I’m able to build relationships with coworkers that are just as strong as my relationships with people who live across the street using Slack and video chat. (Take that Mom—I told you all of that time I spent on IRC and ICQ in the 90’s wasn’t a waste! 😜)
That said, I have friends who have tried working remotely and they absolutely hated it. They said they felt silo-ed off from the world and lonely. They also said that they found working from home distracting. Their experience with remote work was completely opposite mine.
People also have vastly conflicting views of what’s most important in a workplace culture. Some successful startups are really intense and require long hours at the office and people love it. Others have a strong focus on work/life balance which people love just as much.
Other factors play a major role as well. Some people are really into coworker bonding, and enjoy spending time with their teammates outside of work. Others prefer to keep work and life separate so an environment that encourages that behavior is a terrible fit. The list goes on and on.
And even when it comes to people that love working at a company, experiences are vastly different. If you survey 10 employees and ask them to give an open ended, detailed explanation of WHY they love their jobs, you’ll likely end up with 10 different explanations.
The moral of the story is this:
Just because a friend in the industry loves working for a particular company, it’s not guaranteed that you’ll love it too. Don’t feel like a crazy person if you hate working for a company that others love.