Corporate culture has flooded into my veins.

For the most part, I’ve grown up feeling like I couldn’t fit into corporate culture. I haven’t really seen the thrill in dressing up in a formal set of clothes daily and going to sit at a desk and work from 9 to 5 – or beyond. Even job descriptions at firms sounded extremely cumbersome to me, and never fascinated me.

As I grew older I understood that corporate culture was a lot more than a 9 to 5 job and a fat paycheck. There’s an entire lifestyle associated with it. It’s not something that I think you can accurately capture by experiencing it at just one firm, but I think it broadly includes being a workaholic. And prioritizing hours over efficiency.

That’s definitely true in India, especially at places where overtime is compensated, and there are no caps on working hours on a given day. It probably hits its peak in the service industry, where clients and upper management get to dictate timelines which filter down to worker bees.

This isn’t a chiding of corporate culture. Corporate culture will continue to exist irrespective of what my opinion is. All I wonder sometimes is whether we can effectuate any change as a generation on the way that it’s viewed in India. Insofar as we can make a change in the fabric of this corporate culture to permeate it with ideas of the way we prioritize certain things – like a healthier work/life balance, for one. Or returning home at a more reasonable hour. Or encouraging holidays. And more decentralization of decision-making power, perhaps.

It’s going to need a lot of work – but it’s something we need to examine a little closer. The one thing I do know, however, is that Indians work extremely hard. It feels like everyone within the corporate structure is tuned to working with a goal – whether short-term or long-term, and whether client-driven or otherwise. There’s a definite purpose about it all.

It’s also extremely Darwinian, I think. The market will spit you out if you aren’t able to keep up.

What’s crucial to recognize under these circumstances is that the fact that you don’t fit into corporate culture isn’t a failure on your part. It’s just a case of the allocation of your resources perhaps being better served elsewhere.

What I meant by the corporate culture flooding my veins is that I’m beginning to get a feeling that this entire mental wall that I had created about the culture sort of broke down. I can see the allure of fulfilling client expectations now.

Which is the wildest thing in the world for someone who definitely wants to do things for himself. I’m intrigued to see how the two intersect in a few years.


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