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The Work Culture at Default

January 19, 2022
3 min read
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“ What is with you taking a 10-minute break every 2 hours?”

“I need you to work during the weekends”

“We can’t allow you a sick leave now. You have already used your annual quota for that.”

Do these sound familiar to you? This is unfortunately a small part of the dark reality that plagues most workers on a daily basis. Workers end up becoming part of organizations that view their employees only as a means to an end, viewing them as numbers in their quest to earn profit and growth.

These frightening scenarios are the reasons why workers become depressed about their jobs. The questionable ethics and toxic culture in such workplaces leave workers traumatized. 

Sadly, with the growth of the remote model of working, we are experiencing a major downslide in the quality of work culture in most organizations. Hyper-competition, it seems, has made organizations abandon the quality of humanity every work culture should uphold. 

However, the founders of Default built the company on certain principles and have worked hard at evolving and growing with them. The very basic nature of the fabric of our culture is about community - where work is balanced with the mental and physical well-being of each and every employee, remote or otherwise. Here are the 5 basic tenets that define Default - 


1. Transparency

“Need you to finish a couple of write-ups, as Kiara’s on leave and we need this by today EOD.”

A common excuse for your manager to get his work done by you? You stay in late, put in the effort but your manager takes the credit, every single time.

The dishonesty in countless other such situations often breaks any trust and respect among the co-workers in a workplace. It only breeds resentment, de-motivation and frustration in the employees - hardly a positive environment to work in.

A transparent culture is the foundation of a company’s work culture. It means having an open communication channel that invites every worker to share their ideas, problems and how/why for decisions taken, with honesty. It cultivates a healthy relationship among all the co-workers irrespective of the hierarchy.  More than anything it creates a sense of accountability in every employee.

This also means being straightforward with your customers and building better relations with them.

However, just using tools like Slack or Gather are not much help when it comes to maintaining transparency in an organisation. It is only the workers and management who can cultivate transparency in any organisation.

2. Excellence

Some companies thrive in a hyper-competitive environment, pitting workers against each other. But all it does is create a toxic environment with workers constantly battling performance anxiety and being on the edge of burnout.

But what about being in a race against your own past performance?

Excellence is about constantly trying to outperform your past self. Nevertheless,  excellence should not be mistaken for perfection. Cultivating excellence allows workers to approach any goal with a focused vision. 

Excellence creates a workspace where people lead by example and become a united driving force for their organizations. This unlocks growth for everyone, creates high-quality work and instills in workers a healthy appreciation for self-reflection.

Practicing smart work, learning to approach problems through <a href="https://blog.useproof.com/first-principles" target="_blank" style="color:#0057FF; text-decoration:none;">first principles</a> are some of the ways to enforce work culture in your workplace.

3. Ownership

Being asked to account for every minute in your 8 hour job can get tiring pretty quickly. In fact, most organizations are unable to balance the fine line between offering firm guidance on time management and micromanagement. Crossing to the dark side of extreme management can hinder the growth of both the individuals and the organization. 

Rather than always looking over your employees’ shoulders it’s better to teach them the value of ownership. 

What does ownership mean in terms of work culture?

Ownership is about accountability, initiative, and escalation. It is about having the freedom as an employee to make appropriate decisions, caring about the outcome and having the willingness to be responsible for it.

Building ownership means nurturing creativity and curbing over-dependence on instructions from the top management. It also fosters a proactive attitude in workers and you see them learn planning, prioritizing and managing their tasks by themselves.

You can always foster a sense of ownership by encouraging workers to share their potential ideas, allowing them the freedom of budget to execute them. After all, experience comes as much from failing at your tasks as succeeding at them.

4. Empathy

Have you ever seen things through someone’s eyes or walked a mile in their shoes?

A very common sentiment that you may talk about but unfortunately hardly practiced at work. 

Empathy is the most neglected tenet in the corporate work culture. But it is empathy that naturally leads to an environment of helping each other, mutual respect, and accommodating others' needs. It allows you to see your workers for the humans they are and not mindless automatons or tireless machines. 

Cultivating empathy not only teaches you to value your co-workers, it creates a united community where you build meaningful relationships. This goes for your clients and vendors that you collaborate with as well.

You can strive to promote empathy by cultivating a culture where you are more tolerant of mistakes made by others and yourself. You should also encourage policies that are fair and humane.

5. Ambition

Goals and the drive to achieve them - that is just the surface of the deep waters of the pool we call ambition. Ambition in work culture is much more multi-dimensional. It is made up multiple factors -

1. The challenges you face and the manner in which you solve them.

2. Setting up, planning and researching your goals - can be something as simple as the kind of day you aspire to have.

3. The motivation and focus with which you pursue those goals.

Ambition is the fuel that powers every worker in your organization. Cultivating ambition in your work culture fosters growth at - the individual level and the organizational level. It is also an attitude that every worker should carry.

You can encourage ambition by providing your workers with the resources to chase after their goals. 

You can also reward your employees when they set and achieve audacious goals.

Organizations seem to have forgotten that it is far easier to achieve growth in terms of revenue, number of employees, etc. However, building a community through a healthy culture and maintaining it is a huge challenge. But it is not an insurmountable one. 

Companies growing and thriving under the freedom of healthy and humane work culture are rare gems to find. But Default proudly upholds these tenets of a fulfilling work culture. 

Work culture

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Written by
Akshit Rungta

Akshit is an iOS developer and Engineering Manager with 8+ years of experience working with developers across the world. He is also one of the co-founders at Default