The Balancing “Act”: Finding a Culture That Fits Work-Life Balance

You don't *have* to dress alike in a good culture but sometimes it happens.You hear these terms all the time: “corporate culture” and “work-life balance.” But, what is “corporate culture” exactly, and is there really such a thing as “work-life balance”?

I remember coming in for my SHIFTern interview a few months ago and hearing a fellow SHIFTer comment that she hates the term “work-life balance.” As she put it, “Work is your life.” But oddly enough, after she said it, she smiled.

And then it occurred to me: she didn’t mean that work takes over your life, or that it has to or should. She meant that work is a hugely important part of your life and you need to work somewhere that recognizes that.

In my experience, work is a part of my life at SHIFT — a part that I have come to thoroughly enjoy. During my time here, I’ve found there are a few key things that anyone can do if they wish to stay happy at their job.

Engage with your coworkers. 

SHIFT goes beyond the cliché happy hours and office activities that you hear about from just about everybody before you actually start your first job.

There might be a great event that your office puts on, but what was it like the next morning? Were people still smiling when they walked through the door? Did they chat with you in the elevator? Because at SHIFT this is what happens daily.

You need to find a workplace where good relationships are made in the office during the workday as well as outside of it. Then you will be able to apply yourself to your job the same way that you would with your friends or your family: with passion.

Be yourself.

This is the agency where people remember the names of the interns who sit at the front desk and want to chat with them about what’s going on outside the office. And I’m not just talking about cliché weather conversations (okay, we do live in Boston, so there is some of that), but they’re the types of conversations that both sides are actually interested in having.

There are visits to the front desk and email chains that have made me laugh out loud until I have tears streaming down my face. Honestly.  When you work for people who make you laugh, it feels right — plain and simple.

If you take yourself too seriously, it makes it harder to put your best foot forward with the task at hand. Taking a minute to tap into another part of your brain makes it easier to get creative. You have to surround yourself with coworkers who encourage you to loosen up at times so when it’s time to get down to it, you are relaxed, focused and ready to bring your best to the table.

Be inclusive.

During a recent Lunch ‘n’ Learn, our newest SHIFTer, Scott Monty, talked about how we all want to be a part of something larger — something greater than ourselves. SHIFT makes you feel that you are a part of that “something.”

I get to learn in a place that is challenging, supportive and realistic about what the industry expects. And the snacks are nothing to scoff at either.

“Office culture” is not a science, and it definitely isn’t just a series of hackneyed team-building activities. It is about great people with a sense of humor appreciating each other, telling stories, learning from successes and mistakes, acknowledging one another when we do things that are great and working together to determine why something went wrong.

You need to be able to use your coworkers for support so you can all grow from one another. If you don’t have that in the workplace, then you can’t completely apply yourself.

Look for a place that acknowledges that work is a part of your life, but respects you enough to not make it your entire life. When you feel rewarded in the workplace, you will carry that feeling of satisfaction and well-being out of the office and into other aspects of your life.

Maysie Childs


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