12 March 2019 Michael Wu Gunawan

Transitioning from Corporate to Startup Worklife


Discussion between startup versus corporate work life is all too familiar, if you do a quick Google search, you'll find countless articles discussing the pros and cons, which is better for your career, this and that, and not enough on what the transition will look like. As someone who has worked a corporate job for 10 years, working for a startup will be a whole new world. Well, maybe not a whole new world but rather living in a whole new country - at the other side of the globe where the culture, practices, and beliefs can be distinctively different.

For better or worse, there's going to be some (or drastic) changes to your work life that you should take note before working for a startup or starting one yourself. More often than not, you will have more responsibility and independence towards how you conduct your day-to-day. Also more chances to make your own decisions and really drive the company forward. Basically everything is going to change. Let's discuss in further details on what to expect when moving from a typical corporate job to a startup.

What is work

Work is going to look very different if you're accustomed to the corporate style workplace setting with a myriad of processes, a top-down elongated chain of command, and repetitive line of work.

You will be pushed out of your comfort zones and take on tasks that are not exactly within your field of expertise from time to time. Unlike big corporate firms, not many startups have the resources to dedicate a whole department into a specific role like customer service for example, and sales people would naturally take on that customer service role (unless the number of queries has grown too many to handle). It's not all bad, as you get the chance to explore other areas and learn new skills as you go, who know you might just find yourself having a knack for something else! One thing for sure, there will be less dependency on other people to fix your problem so you have to be flexible and resourceful. A common sentiment who have worked for both corporate and startup mentioned that they have a great sense of purpose and greater impact when working for a startup, and it's an extremely valid statement. Naturally, if you're in a startup of 20 people, your work contributes to at least 5% of your company's total output, whereas in a company of 20,000 people, if you do perform your role extremely well, you'll be improving a process within your department at best. 

Working in a startup also means you have to pick up the pace and get used to uncertainty. Startups are always experimenting with new ideas, new ways of doing things, and nothing is set in stone. It almost feels like you're driving a train in a tunnel, on tracks that are being built as you go, you will have to work at a frantic rate to make sure the train has enough tracks to keep moving forward. Every individual's work will determine if the company will still be around in 6 months.

When is Work

I speak for everyone who has worked in a startup when I say the line between work and play is blurred, like really blurred, the good news is you can work out at 8 in the morning, get a solid cup of coffee and show up in the office (if you have an office) at 10 without getting fired. The not-so-good news is sometimes you have to work at unearthly hours and even couple of sleepless nights! So say goodbye to 9 to 5 and say hello to 24/7!

Where is Work

You'll find that working for a startup gives you much more flexibility in terms of where you can work. At a corporate company, you'll be fortunate to have the option to work out of office once a week. At a startup, work doesn't always happen in the office. Especially smaller startups with considerably limited resources who would rather allocate some if not all the capital expenditure in areas that help to scale the business. On that note, the recent rise in startups has driven commercial real estate to quickly adapt to accommodate startups and smaller companies alike, creating a new line of portfolio that we know now as flexible office space or coworking.

These spaces, typically they come fully furnished, have shorter minimum lease duration, and are more cost efficient when compared to traditional office space settings which are ideal for leaner and agile business. It's no surprise that a lot startups tend to gravitate to these spaces when they start and scale as they go along. You can expect to see yourself working out of one, should you be working in startup. Polar opposite of going to the same designated desk everyday in a typical corporate job setting, more and more companies are going office-less or fully remote.

Running Remote Conference

Going fully remote means employees usually work out of a cafe, coworking space, or home. Admittedly, it's hard to imagine a corporate company with over 1000 employees to be fully remote, if it's even possible at all. However, startups like dribbble, Buffer, GitHub, and many others have hundreds of employees and manage to keep everything in line. It's certainly not an easy thing to do but extremely rewarding if done correctly. Interested in running a remote company or incorporating a remote work friendly company culture? The perfect opportunity is here. Book yourself a seat in Running Remote Conference 2019 happening on 29 – 30 June 2019 (save the date) to learn next-level, actionable strategies and tactics you can utilize the very next day to manage & grow your remote team. Take practical strategies from leading CEO’s, Founders, and Project Managers who build and manage remote teams across the globe as they discuss hiring practices, financial management, company culture, collaboration tools and more. 

Tags: tips, guide, flexible workspace, startups, remote working, corporate

Michael Wu Gunawan

Michael is the Marketing Manager for FlySpaces in Indonesia. Having lived in several countries including Singapore and United Kingdom has given him an open mind, a rich exposure of different cultures, consumers and businesses globally. He aspire to promote innovative technologies in Southeast Asia.

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