Now that I have completed two weeks of work, I feel that I have a much better sense of my company culture, and the overall work culture in Spain. I work for a company called Smileat, which is a startup that produces organic baby food products. They have been around for 3-4 years, but have quickly gained traction in the Spanish market and have started to sell in other countries in Europe either in brick-and-mortar stores, or online through their website. Currently, I am working with one of the founders to research logistics service providers so that Smileat can be more efficient and cost-effective.
Overall, I have found the culture here to be more relaxed than in the U.S. and with less pressure applied to deadlines. The company I work for only has about 12 employees, so the office itself is very casual and friendly. I work in a room with 5 other employees around a big table, so there is a very open communication network so to speak, where we can simply have a conversation without even leaving out chairs. I really enjoy this type of environment because I feel that it relieves some of the pressure to always be professional that often comes with a job in the US. In this comfortable environment, I can go from talking about my weekend, to asking a work-related question and no one bats an eye, as it is normal to have any type of conversation. However, each employee still knows his or her role, and there is still somewhat of a hierarchy. I think this structure comes off a little more relaxed than normal due to the fact the company is small, and still in its growth stages. once the company reaches a greater size, I certainly see the structure evolving as duties will be more defined and there will be a higher volume of tasks.
In addition, there is a really great team atmosphere within the office. Each and every employee is always interacting with one another, and often time projects are carried out in smaller teams that foster collaboration and creativity. For example, I am primarily working on logistics issues, but I have also been included with other tasks due to my english speaking ability, and their desire to have an outsiders perspective. In addition to a team approach for work tasks, the minute is carried over to the social aspect as well. Each day, we all take our lunch break together, eating for about 30 mins, and then staying for another 30 to simply converse and talk about whatever is going on that day. I really look to this time every day, because it is one of the best opportunities for me to better my Spanish. Even if I am mostly listening, I am still learning more and more, making it easier to jump in and be a part of the conversation the next day. This atmosphere really keeps a positive attitude in the office as well, which means no day ever seems to drag on, and I am excited to come to work every day.
Lastly, I have been pleasantly surprised with the dress code here in Spain. The Spanish are pretty fashionable, but that does not necessarily mean that they dress as formally, or professionally as we would in the U.S. For example, I can blend right in at work in jeans and a polo or button-down, and I almost feel overdressed when I wear a tie. This has made going to work on a daily basis very easy and comfortable, as I am sometimes squished in to a completely packed metro car for my commute.
Overall, I am really enjoying the Spanish working culture so far because it encourages teamwork and comfortability within the office, while still maintaining an underlying tone of professionalism.