My brother, Segun, was interning at Hotels.ng in 2016, and he talked about his work like he worked with the CIA. Only promising to reveal what he was working on if I applied. It did not stay top secret for long, but he sent me links to every job vacancy, so I applied.
He was right. There were many things different about this place. I entered the lobby, and the first thing I noticed was this picture. Very swanky.
The first person I saw was wearing a hoodie with a Beats by Dre headphone tucked in his ears.
I looked down at my seemingly overdressed attire and I asked myself, ” Am I in the right place?” I was waiting to be called in for my interview but the staff moving around made me look like a parent on a school visit; even my interviewer had on a t-shirt and jeans.
The interview was friendly and straightforward with the emphasis on my skills and not my credentials.
I was sure I was not the only one that felt this way on the first day here. So I asked around and it was clear that people familiar with the corporate world were thrown off balance by the culture of the startups they worked in. Being me, I thought it would be fun to chronicle the experience of my colleagues here at Hotels.ng ?
Before we begin, let’s start with the basics, Culture Shock. This is defined as the feeling of disorientation experienced by a person when they are suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, a way of life, or set of attitudes. This basically means that when you employ someone who used to work in a bank as an account officer in a startup, he may find the new environment a little difficult to adapt to because of the use of more online tools and flexible reporting structure.
So I asked my colleagues how they felt their first week here at Hotels.ng.
I had worked in a different place with a similar work culture, but one thing that shocked me was the use of online tools. Everything is automated and the cloud storage system is amazing! It was different but for me a good kind of different. – Lolade (Legal/Admin)
This is my first work experience so I cannot categorically say I have experienced a culture shock ( maybe if I go somewhere else?) However, working in this place has afforded me the opportunity to learn a lot of tech stuff. I believe I would have been a regular Joe had I worked in the corporate world.
– Edith(Account Manager)
In my first week, I was in awe because this was not what I thought an office environment would look like, but it is what I thought it should be like. Everyone is friendly, young and vibrant. I always look forward to coming to work.
– Andrew(Collections Team)
The first thing that caught my attention was the reward system in the office. When you achieve a great goal you are rewarded with lunch paid by the company (free lunch) or given a movie ticket. I have never seen that in any establishment. Another peculiar thing was the method by which you were reprimanded, it was not harsh or wordy (no too much documentation or query letter) you get a simple reminder on slack.
-Peter( Department Head, Customer Support)
No dress code; just dress within the boundaries of decency. I wish someone told my former bosses that. My first week here, I was seriously confused about the dress code. The first day everyone was wearing really cool clothes; jeans, t-shirts, short gowns. So I thought, nice; I would do the same the next day and get rid of the jacket I was wearing. Boy! did that plan not work. I had a meeting with one of our corporate clients the next day and I was looking a little odd when I went to a corporate head office in my t-shirt and jeans representing the Finance team. I got a hang of it and now my wardrobe is HNG official ?
I was overdressed. I never felt more uncomfortable looking dashing in a suit than I did at my interview here. I looked like a corporate investor rather than a job seeker and I was worried I wasn’t going to get the job. So coming from a bank to a startup was indeed a culture shock. Another thing I found amazing was the use of Slack as a communication tool and the fact that there is a channel for everything. Seriously everything; the good, the okay and the bad…
-Ikechukwu (Transactions Manager)
I did not know coders existed until I got here. The tech world is amazing and I am always impressed with the things a little line of code can do. So you can say the most shocking thing for me was that our product team was not a group of people working in a factory or on the field signing deals rather a group of tech people who seat in front of their PCs making magic.
– Kehinde(Collections Team)
The one thing that stood out for me was the first name basis culture here. There is no Mr This or Mr That. I like it.
-Seun (Operations Manager)
I felt like a young Leonidas in the movie 300 when he was made to wrestle a Lion as part of his training. You are constantly mentally challenged here which allows you build the ability to think and to be very creative with problems. You get thrown to the wolves immediately you step in and the company has incredible faith in you that you’ll triumph. I guess it’s a bit like David Vs. Goliath. We’ve always been in a battle with giants (better-funded companies), but yet we always find a way to win. The culture pushes everyone to want to be better and more valuable.
-Yemi (Chief Operations Officer)
I have worked in another startup before so I was familiar with a lot of things before I got here. However, I must say that I love the dressing culture or the lack thereof. I also hate being called Mr. so working in a place where I am just Moses works fine for me.
– Moses (Business Development Manager)
All the stories brought to mind a Wednesday afternoon when a group of sales rep from a bank came to the office and I went over to attend to them but the man refused to talk to me insisting he wanted to see my madam (his words exactly). I promised him I could answer all his questions but he refused to listen. I will never forget the look in his eyes when my country manager walked in wearing ripped jeans demanding the reason for the meeting. Pure joy ?
Days like that add extra sauce to my already buzzing day.
I love the startup culture, the free spirit and the willingness to go above and beyond because you are passionate about your company’s product. As Brian Chesky said, a company’s culture is the foundation for future innovation.