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Technologies Review | January 20, 2018

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Culture Wars: How Startups Juice Their Workforce and Clients

In a difficult economic climate, it’s not the well-established corporation pulling struggling Americans through; that job has fallen to start-up companies across the nation. These tiny operations exhibit a level of passion and grit that is almost impossible to find anywhere else.

 

Sometimes, what starts as a shoebox operation expands into something amazing. This phenomenon has been especially prevalent in an age of rapid technological advancements. In a short period of time, tech start-ups have completely changed how people interact with each other. What some people don’t understand, though, is how an “immature” entrepreneur such as Mark Zuckerberg can manage to capture such wide scale success. The answer? Start-up culture. In a start-up culture, it doesn’t really matter what you wear or which car you drive. You can go to work every day in a hoodie if that’s what you prefer. What does matter is that you turn out an innovative product.

 

Facebook is a popular example of the effects of start-up culture, but this culture is present in a variety of other settings. For example, start-up culture’s influence is evident at Rackspace, an industry leader in hosting and cloud computing. Centered in San Antonio, this innovative company has a steely vibe that one might expect from a business based in Texas. Still, jobs at Rackspace are anything but traditional, and they openly embrace its startup roots in the DNA of the office culture. The first thing that strikes new Rackspace employees is a casual, family-like feel to the workplace. In a blog post written by Rackspace employee Ralynn Brown, this inclusive approach is immediately apparent.

 

Ralynn talks about her surprise during her first day at Rackspace, when “random people said hello as I walked through the building.” This friendly atmosphere followed her through the preliminary interview and into the office. This familiarity of coworkers and even bosses may seem too casual for the traditional employee, but it’s a hallmark of startup culture. In fact, it provides teams with a cohesiveness that cannot be matched in a sterile environment.

The concept of teamwork itself has evolved, thanks, in part, to the many startups populating Silicon Valley. Instead of isolating employees in tiny cubicles, many companies are switching to a more group-oriented workspace. Teams sit at tables together, using the newest and most advanced technology to get the job done. Other companies bring in team members for meetings that feel more like inspirational conferences. That is not to say that the get-togethers are without substance, they simply bring an approach to the table that is better equipped to keep participants engaged. This format is a popular one at Rackspace, where employees gather to tackle new challenges (like dodgeball) together.

 

At first glimpse, startup culture may seem childish or immature. What kind of an employee dresses in jeans and a hoodie? But when approached from the correct angle, the laid-back approach to the start-up can actually be a major asset. When the focus shifts from outdated tradition to innovation, startups are better able to keep up with the fast pace of today’s society.