The Free Food that Eats Your Soul 🍎

Many jobs these days eat into our free time and personal lives. People work from 9–6, and then do overtime. We work all the time

“It is no longer eight hours a day, five days a week, but more like 12 hours a day and full eight-hour shifts on Saturdays and Sundays.” ~ Source

To be honest, I’ve recently been spending even longer hours, but it’s because I started a company. I’d never ask the same from anyone else that works with me, even indirectly. 
Some companies do though, and it can take a while to realise when and how you’re being manipulated. 

Boiling a frog: www.nwlean.net

Despite genuine companies offering perks to inspire creativity, examples such as that of FinTech Startup, Revolut, suggest that the same freebies can be used for selfish reasons. Revolut offer perks such as free food, whilst championing a “get shit done” philosophy that encourages overtime and weekend work. In this case, the perks become like bribes. 

Revolut Perks

For such companies, the free dinners and latest equipment are mainly used to keep you working longer, harder, and probably more efficiently – like a little robot with no soul 🤖. As more people work overtime (often without any extra pay), overtime becomes the norm. Leaving on time makes you feel bad.

We’re Not Family

Another thing to watch out for are companies calling themselves ‘family’. It seems nice, but it can blur the lines between work and home, again leading to longer hours and confusion. You might even be put in situations where you’re pressured to put this family ahead of your real family. Things then get confusing when a family member is fired.

The difference between good intention and manipulation is sometimes hard to spot, so you must be observant. You might expect the signs to be obvious, but office norms, influence of leaders we look up to, and love for our craft lead us into giving away more of our limited time in this galaxy than we should.

However, there almost always comes a point at which we realise the sacrifices asked of us are not worth it. When things aren’t right, there are always signs. You can ask yourself:

  • Have you been forced to make difficult choices? 
  • Would make the same demands being made of you to other people, or yourself?
  • Can you sense any cult vibes? i.e Would normal behaviour in a company be considered normal by people outside it?

You might even notice some of the best people leaving or just becoming quiet, and that should wake you up… but it’s also easy to fall asleep again.

Time is the only perk

As I begin to build a team, I’ve thought a lot about company culture and how to create an environment I would have liked to work in myself. Some of these conditions include:

  • Working part-time (well I can only afford that right now)
  • Work on your own schedule, and live where you like
  • Encouragement for projects unrelated to the employer, so you don’t have to hide

The only perk would be time

I think everyone has their own mission, so I would use the company I’m building as a platform for them to spring off. The paradox is that providing all this flexibility puts you in a position of weakness where people can take advantage of you. 

So finding the right people is really important. People I like to work with don’t care for popularity, and glory. We just want to pull together to achieve a common goal of doing what we enjoy, without politics. It’s easy to put it down on paper as words, but the day-to-day can still be absolute chaos. 😅

One day I hope to get there — if you want to hear more about this process let me know, because I don’t know whether to continue writing about this stuff as growing a team is new to me.

The header image is by Emma Chaves, made available on MixKit Art. Thanks for reading, this story is part of the journey to build Prototypr and Letter.so, email for designers. Check it out 👇