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Corporate culture is the decisive difference between start-ups and more traditional organizations

The recent Robert Walters’ e-guide 'Act like a start-up and recruit the best talent' already revealed that half of the professionals surveyed would only consider a start-up for their next career move. Many organizations therefore risk losing their talent to start-ups. In terms of corporate culture, these start-ups are much better suited to a post-pandemic world. But what exactly is the difference between the corporate culture at traditional organizations and that of start-ups?

Aline Lewy, managing consultant at Robert Walters, highlights the key differences.  


"First, we need to look at the structure. In more traditional organizations, we often use a certain hierarchy, whereas in start-ups we mainly see a sort of flat structure. People who work at a start-up are not ranked below or above each other, but rather side by side. It is part of the fast-changing, innovative business world," says Aline.

Flexible working over hybrid working 

Start-ups embrace flexible working. "Even more important than hybrid working is the ability to work flexibly. That is because the line between work and private life is getting thinner. People work from home, in the office, but most of all, they are always connected online. As a result, a lot of professionals work at different times. We have to acknowledge this and admit that flexible working hours are becoming more and more essential" adds Aline.  

But as a traditional organization, how do you respond to this desire for more flexibility? "Trust your employees by allowing them flexible working hours. Also try to work in smaller teams, so they can anticipate quickly," says Aline. 


Not only the working hours are quite different, the range of tasks also differs for more and more professionals. Managers, CFO’s,… week may have looked rather monotonous before, but now, this is no longer the case. And that’s a good thing, says Aline. “Not so long ago, many professionals weren’t satisfied with their job. They were stuck in a daily routine and wondered if their work even had any impact. Fortunately, the arrival of innovative start-ups turned things around. Professionals’ range of tasks at start-ups is more varied. which means that they are constantly faced with new challenges. That is what makes their job exciting and and positive. 

As a traditional organization, it is important to be innovative. Aline: “Try as many new things as possible. Even if you fail, you can learn from this. New ideas also mean new possibilities to grow. Try to pass this on to your employees, so that they are also focussed on trying new things.”

Changed office space

Something that goes hand in hand with a growing flexibility, are the changing offices. They start looking more like a living space. Aline explains: “Because the line between work and personal life gets thinner, and employees are often working from home, the work environment needs an uplift as well. The atmosphere should feel more homely, so people remain motivated and productive.  


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