Ask the Insider columnist Ashley Lutz answers all your work-related questions, including the awkward, sensitive, and real-world ones. Have a question? Email [email protected]
I recently changed jobs. At the old job, I had amazing coworkers and a wonderful company culture. Everyone was incredibly friendly and outgoing, and the office was very busy. People genuinely cared about one another, departments ate lunch together, and we shared stories about our home and family lives. While the atmosphere was great, the career growth potential was not. It was a difficult decision to leave but necessary to in order to keep challenging myself and building my career path.
I’m just finishing the tenth week at my new job. The company is pretty similar at first glance (same industry, size, private and family owned), yet offers more growth and earning potential. Unfortunately, it couldn’t be more of a culture shock. Nobody collaborates, and it is quieter than a library. I’m in sales and although we have designated call times, often it will be hours before anybody utters a word. Successes aren’t mentioned or celebrated. People don’t greet each other and nobody has conversations besides absolutely necessary work-related topics.
We sit in an open floor concept so that makes it even more awkward. I’m an outgoing person and enjoy being friendly and collaborating, so the reserved demeanour of the group has really thrown me off. While my coworkers aren’t necessarily rude, they don’t make an effort to be friendly or social. I try to start conversations by asking nice questions or seeking advice about a customer account, and people will answer me but go no further. There are only about a dozen people in my building and I’ve observed and experienced this similar introverted atmosphere with everyone. I’m generally very self-aware and have always gotten along well with others, so I know it’s not something I’m doing wrong.
During a meeting with my manager, he’s asked how I feel like I’m fitting in with the culture. I tactfully brought up how I enjoy my coworkers but the culture is a bit more “reserved” than I’m used to. He agreed and said that’s just the way it is.
I end each day feeling dejected and lonely from lack of friendly human interaction. As much as I’m trying to focus on the tasks at hand and the work itself, I really feel impassioned due to the lack of a company culture and apathetic atmosphere. Am I overreacting? How important is company culture? I can do my job well but I don’t enjoy showing up to work everyday.
Social Butterfly Trapped in a Cage
Dear Social Butterfly,
Unfortunately, this isn’t a quick fix. You’ve just started at the company and making friends with people can take a while. You aren’t going to instantly walk into the office and feel the same way.
Even though it’s difficult, the best thing you can do for now is to stop comparing the new office to your old one. It’s just going to result in feeling nostalgic and sad. Hold on to the good memories, but accept that this is a new chapter and not everything is going to feel the same.
You will make friends at your new office in time. It sounds like the overall culture is more reserved, so I’d suggest identifying people you are friendly with and inviting them to coffee or happy hour one-on-one.
Another way to make friends in this office could be to send around a funny article or video clip electronically. Starting a conversation in person is tricky because you could be interrupting important work or approaching the person at an inopportune time. But sending occasional electronic messages allows people to respond on their own terms.
Don’t forget that this is an adjustment period that will take time to get used to. Try to immerse yourself in your new position, and let the social aspect happen naturally.
If you’re still unhappy in a year, start looking for a new job. When you’re interviewing for positions, you can ask existing employees what the company culture is like. Try to get a feel for how social the office is so that next time, the adjustment isn’t so tough.
Ashley Lutz is a senior editor at Business Insider answering all your questions about the workplace. Send your queries to [email protected] for publication on Business Insider. Requests for anonymity will be granted, and questions may be edited.
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