Startup culture promotes organizational strategy that emphasizes open-communication and has a relatively flat hierarchical structure, the primary benefit being a less stuffy work environment. Stereotypically, this laid-back vibe is usually accompanied by amenities ranging from office happy hours to video games to ping pong tables and beyond. On the surface, it's the ideal workspace, an area in which frequent breaks aren't just allowed, but encouraged. As long as you get your work done, you're free to do as you please. With just 15% of 2015 graduates preferring a job at a large corporation it would seem that this Disney World-ification of the business world is beginning to stick. That said, when these practices are implemented, reality doesn't always live up to the ideal.

For all of startup culture's attempts to make the workplace fun, they often run into various issues regarding, you know, business. When a company spends money on cool perks, this often means one of two things. On the one hand, it's possible that the company is doing so well that they have the extra cash lying around to host sushi lunches and have FIFA tournaments (more on this later). On the other, this can be a telltale sign of a company that's mismanaging its finances and chasing a luxury office life that it can't afford. There's nothing sexy about balancing the books, but that's the thing that keeps the lights on.

Some offices even offer their employees games - like foosball

Sometimes though, the scenario is such that a company can provide all of the comforts associated with the typical startup without bankrupting itself. While it sounds great, this isn't necessarily a good thing. Obviously, everyone wants their job to be fun. They want a flexible schedule that allows them to decide when and how their work gets done. But the problem is, when there isn't a fixed schedule or the office is full of toys, it's pretty easy to get distracted, and employees often end up working long hours to compensate for all of the nonessential work events. On top of this, when there isn't a rigid hierarchical structure, people assume there aren't rigid power dynamics. This is a mistake, and when the lines between boss and co-worker start blurring, it becomes a particularly difficult tightrope to walk. Especially since America puts a pretty low premium on work-life balance, and our social lives tend to be spent mostly with our coworkers. This intermingling can feel rather constricting, considering that it leaves very little time to not be on. It can also lead to nauseating conversations with not-your-managers in which they say things like I'm putting on my friend cap. The power dynamics in this world tend to resemble that of a school playground rather than the fixed, almost militaristic structure of 20th century corporate America.

This isn't the only way in which startups buck corporate trends. While they lack in work-life balance and financial stability, startups make up for this by providing people the opportunity to be a part of something from the get-go, allowing people to feel as though they're an integral part of their team. As said and repeated ad nauseum, millennials want jobs that give them purpose, and startups are particularly good at facilitating this desire. This changes the fundamental structure of what a work environment is. Work is no longer a place where one goes and receives payment in exchange for his/her services. The world of the startup is predicated on making its workers' jobs an extension of themselves.

Team building at the office

The 2017 film The Circle, while so terribly written that it may have destroyed Emma Watson's career, attempts to deal with the problem surrounding tech companies and the cult of personality that tends pervade within them once they hit critical mass. If you ignore the plot, horrible acting, and bad writing, the film actually gets one thing right. It portrays a tech company in which employees' identities are so firmly linked to their roles at work, that they pursue the company's goals without ever thinking of their (the goals) effect on the outside world. The result is surveillance technology that places an extreme amount of extrajudicial power in the hands of the company's CEO, Tom Hanks. What this film tries–and mostly fails– to portray, is a neo-feudalistic society, in which workers live on an isolated compound with only their fellow employees, living solely for their company, as if it were its own nation with managers acting as vassals.

Emma Watson in "The Circle"

The road to corporate feudalism isn't going to be paved by guys who look like Don Draper. Suits and ties and constriction are the ways of the past. The real way to trick someone into spending 100% of their time working, is to convince them that they're not working at all. It's important notice how plenty of already successful companies, noticing their employees' envy, are starting to implement the same types of incentives as their smaller competitors. This isn't to suggest that there's some sort of worldwide conspiracy to turn workers into slaves, but rather to shed light on an important trend; namely, that startup culture is being co-opted by plenty of companies as a means of convincing their employees to work longer, harder, and at a rate that doesn't correspond to their pay. Now more than ever, potential employees have to be vigilant during the interview process. When in doubt, fall back on the old edict: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.


Matt Clibanoff is a writer and editor based in New York City who covers music, politics, sports and pop culture. His editorial work can be found in Pop Dust, The Liberty Project, and All Things Go. His fiction has been published in Forth Magazine. Website: https://matthewdclibanoff.journoportfolio.com/ Twitter: @mattclibanoff

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Why You Need Cometeer Coffee: Coffee You Can Take on the Go

Cometeer Coffee

There’s an internet trend that says that everyone has three drinks: one for energy, one for hydration, and one for fun.


Hydration drinks are usually seltzer, a sports drink, or good old-fashioned water. Fun drinks can be anything from boba to kombucha to a refreshing fountain sprite. But the drink you choose for energy says the most about you. Are you a chill tea drinker? An alternative yerba mate devotee? A matcha-obsessed TikTok That Girl wannabe? A chaotic Red Bull chugger? Or are you a lover of the classics, a person after my own heart, who just loves a good cuppa joe?

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Over two years into the most momentous event in our lives the world has changed forever … Some of us have PTSD from being locked up at home, some are living like everything’s going to end tomorrow, and the rest of us are merely trying to get by. When the pandemic hit we entered a perpetual state of vulnerability, but now we’re supposed to return to normal and just get on with our lives.

What does that mean? Packed bars, concerts, and grocery shopping without a mask feel totally strange. We got used to having more rules over our everyday life, considering if we really had to go out or keeping Zooming from our living rooms in threadbare pajama bottoms.

The work-from-home culture changed it all. Initially, companies were skeptical about letting employees work remotely, automatically assuming work output would fall and so would the quality. To the contrary, since March of 2020 productivity has risen by 47%, which says it all. Employees can work from home and still deliver results.

There are a number of reasons why everyone loves the work from home culture. We gained hours weekly that were wasted on public transport, people saved a ton of money, and could work from anywhere in the world. Then there were the obvious reasons like wearing sweats or loungewear all week long and having your pets close by. Come on, whose cat hasn’t done a tap dance on your keyboard in the middle of that All Hands Call!

Working from home grants the freedom to decorate your ‘office’ any way you want. But then people needed a change of environment. Companies began requesting their employees' RTO, thus generating the Hybrid Work Model — a blend of in-person and virtual work arrangements. Prior to 2020, about 20% of employees worked from home, but in the midst of the pandemic, it exploded to around 70%.

Although the number of people working from home increased and people enjoyed their flexibility, politicians started calling for a harder RTW policy. President Joe Biden urges us with, “It’s time for Americans to get back to work and fill our great downtowns again.”

While Boris Johnson said, “Mother Nature does not like working from home.'' It wasn’t surprising that politicians wanted people back at their desks due to the financial impact of working from the office. According to a report in the BBC, US workers spent between $2,000 - $5,000 each year on transport to work before the pandemic.

That’s where the problem lies. The majority of us stopped planning for public transport, takeaway coffee, and fresh work-appropriate outfits. We must reconsider these things now, and our wallets are paying

the price. Gas costs are at an all-time high, making public transport increase their fees; food and clothes are all on a steep incline. A simple iced latte from Dunkin’ went from $3.70 to $3.99 (which doesn’t seem like much but 2-3 coffees a day with the extra flavors and shots add up to a lot), while sandwiches soared by 14% and salads by 11%.

This contributes to the pressure employees feel about heading into the office. Remote work may have begun as a safety measure, but it’s now a savings measure for employees around the world.

Bloomberg are offering its US staff a $75 daily commuting stipend that they can spend however they want. And other companies are doing the best they can. This still lends credence to ‘the great resignation.’ Initially starting with the retail, food service, and hospitality sectors which were hard hit during the pandemic, it has since spread to other industries. By September 2021, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 4.4 million resignations.

That’s where the most critical question lies…work from home, work from the office or stick to this new hybrid world culture?

Borris Johnson thinks, “We need to get back into the habit of getting into the office.” Because his experience of working from home “is you spend an awful lot of time making another cup of coffee and then, you know, getting up, walking very slowly to the fridge, hacking off a small piece of cheese, then walking very slowly back to your laptop and then forgetting what it was you’re doing.”

While New York City Mayor Eric Adams says you “can't stay home in your pajamas all day."

In the end, does it really matter where we work if efficiency and productivity are great? We’ve proven that companies can trust us to achieve the same results — or better! — and on time with this hybrid model. Employees can be more flexible, which boosts satisfaction, improves both productivity and retention, and improves diversity in the workplace because corporations can hire through the US and indeed all over the world.

We’ve seen companies make this work in many ways, through virtual lunches, breakout rooms, paint and prosecco parties, and — the most popular — trivia nights.

As much as we strive for normalcy, the last two years cannot simply be erased. So instead of wiping out this era, it's time to embrace the change and find the right world culture for you.

What would get you into the office? Free lunch? A gym membership? Permission to hang out with your dog? Some employers are trying just that.

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