a blog by Liz Johnston… just a 20-something PR girl trying to find her way

One of the toughest things I have come across during my internship is finding the balance between fun/relaxed and sophisticated/serious in a new work environment. I want to be myself to the fullest degree, but at the same time, I can’t just jump in without looking. Now, it’s not like I have entered a whole new world, I have moved only a few hours north of home, in the same state of Oregon. I know this place and I know the general atmosphere – it’s one I’m comfortable in. However, stepping from a college classroom into a professional agency can be very discombobulating. It takes time to get accustomed to the ways in which people dress, talk, and work with one another, as well as the way in which the office runs. It was, for me, a new environment, one which has taken me time to at ease in. To help me identify the organization’s culture I examined the things around me. With seven quick questions, much can be learned from your surroundings.

  • As you walk into the organization’s office space, you should look at the desks around you and ask yourself how are the desks organized, if they even are organized?
    • A high level of organization can be indicative a high level of accountability and supervision within the office.
  • The second question to ask is, whether the office feels cramped or open?
    • Whether an office feels open or cramped can reflect the feeling of the employees in the space.
  • The third question to ask yourself is, what is the office décor like? Is there any artwork or color on the walls, or are the walls white? Are desk personalized?
    • Workspace personalization is a gauge of the personal freedom employees feel that have within the organization.
  • As you walk in the organization’s office space, the forth question to ask is, how are people dressed? Formal, business casual, or just plan casual?
    • Employees attire are in direct relation to the state of
  • The fifth question to ask is, how do people communicate with each other? Is it over e-mail, in person or on the phone?
    • The level of interpersonal interactions among coworkers is indication of the level of the interpersonal relationships among employees. A high level of personal interaction can signify that people are not simply coworkers, but friends as well.
  • The sixth question to ask is the language formal or laid-back? Is it a mix? If so, notice when people make that change from formal to informal and note the tone.
    • Formal vs. informal language is indicative of the employee hierarchy within the organization.
  • The seventh question to ask is, do people seem rushed or in hurry or do they seem relaxed at their desk?
    • The speed in which employees work can be an indicator to of the office stress level.
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Comments on: "Identifying the Business Culture" (1)

  1. Good post, Liz! Very well done!

    ~J

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