Yep, the corporate life is totally for me.
Since I’m in a new role “in-house” after four years at agencies, it seemed like this was one of the best posts to revisit as part of looking back. I wrote the original six years ago before I was in totally free, creative environments. The fact that I knew then that I thrived in structure astounds me. That’s because I hadn’t seen what the other side looked like.
The four years I spent at agencies proved that the grass isn’t always greener. To start, the actual office can have a “corporate” or “Silicon Valley” feel, impacting how you perform. There’s been a trend away from the open floor plan, but big companies like Citigroup still think it’s a way to attract talent. Both of my agency employers had many exciting ways they adapted their work spaces to help employees stay collaborative and creative. In Texas, we rejected the cubical with a totally open floor plan with workstations at tables. You could literally look up and ask your colleague a question. But it also meant we all had headsets because we’d be on calls with different clients simultaneously. You had to work from home or squat in a conference room if you needed quiet. Some people LOVE that hustle and bustle, noise that actually helps them focus instead of distracts them. But that’s not me…
Here in Virginia, my other agency had a really amazing digital hub for our social media monitoring. You could project on screens, scroll through the news, and manage digital responsiveness in real-time. But if users were happy on Twitter, so there was no War Room to manage, you were still in the middle of everything. Little quirks from coworkers can become full-blown pet peeves. I actually moved to a cube at one point just to feel like someone wasn’t always coming up behind me.
The second thing that made agency life different was that there was always so much churn. Clients change or have lots of projects happening all at once. As a shared resource, you don’t just wear five hats, you also juggle balls, apples, and chainsaws. Bad habits also impact your productivity, and when there’s too much churn and not enough structure, everyone has bad habits. Now, I love change and can appreciate variety, but too much can be exhausting!
My own work has changed in the last several years. I’m really passionate about digital content strategy, creating systems that are sustainable and allow for brands to take that next step towards optimization and personalization. But to do that, you have to have time. Time to build the strategy, implement it, learn from it, and then grow it. If you’re shifting, you might not get the chance to see that hard work come to life.
You get the chance to own something big.
Have you changed your opinion of the workplace or environment that’s the best for you? What surprised you?