This blog is all about what makes Booking.com’s culture so welcoming to someone proud to be different. But firstly, a little about me. I come from Greece, but have spent a lot of time travelling, living and working in other places. I currently work in HR recruitment in Amsterdam, and before that have worked in a number of other international businesses, in both the tech and service industries.
“Complete with a ‘management approved’ colour palette”
Booking aside, the places I have worked in the past have a lot in common. For instance, they paid a lot of attention to punctuality, be it when you arrive or even how long your smoking breaks take. They also focused on office formalities, such as a very specific dress code – complete with a ‘management approved’ colour palette, which applied to everything, even our nails! Freedoms were restricted, even the language you spoke in was under scrutiny sometimes. There was no place for your own individual ‘weirdness’ to shine through.
Another unfortunate similarity between them was communication style. Again there was a focus on formality, and the tone of emails and even conversations was almost always corporate and to the point. Then there were their structures, which acted to limit the potential to advance your career, mainly because there were countless levels and few opportunities for promotion. It often seemed less important to be who you are and more important to be who they wanted you to be. I’m not like that.
“My perception about workplaces changed… radically”
Then I was hired by Booking.com and, well, my perception about workplaces changed… radically. Here, people don’t care about what you wear, what colour your nails are, which language you speak or where you worked before. Here, the culture fits the people just as much as the people fit the culture.
From what I knew before, I struggled to understand how Booking could be so successful while giving its employees so much freedom. In fact, I’m still figuring it out. But what I do know is that when you allow people to come up with their own ideas, to try new things, to push themselves, and enable them to explore, develop and train as they want to, you create a highly motivated and productive workplace. It makes my job easier that’s for sure.
“I often felt like a stranger”
I’ve never really felt like I belonged anywhere. In Greece, I often felt like a stranger, finding myself unable to relate to other people’s mindsets, attitudes, or those of the government’s. The same went for the companies I worked at. But, while I loved what I did, my job was just that ‘a job’. I worked for a salary and that was it. There was nothing else for me there.
Booking, on the other hand, has somehow managed to blur the lines between work and life, between what’s business and what’s personal. If you had told me before moving here, I wouldn’t have believed it. I wouldn’t have believed work could be so enjoyable, in an environment that provides you with not only what you need to do your job, but to develop yourself and your career.
“There is just a sense of belonging that is hard to put into words”
‘Come as you are’ is a bit of a motto round here. For me, who has felt like an outsider in the past, this is something wonderfully refreshing. And as a result, ‘work’ often doesn’t feel like work. There is just a sense of belonging that is hard to put into words.
At this point, I feel I should confess something. While I am a strong advocate of the Booking.com way of life, in reality, I am just selfishly happy that I get to be my weird self all day long – inside of work and out. I can make my weird jokes, I can wear what I want (however ‘weird’), and I can work where I want – at my desk, in the coffee bar, on the roof terrace or just in my own little world. I can take the time to write this blog and have the freedom to express myself as I want. But most of all, I feel right at home because at Booking, everyone is different, and by that I mean they’re as weird as they want to be – and that really is ok.
“Let us see the real you”
So, as a recruiter, I feel I should leave any would-be candidates with a tip. If you apply for a role, if come in for an interview, know that we’re looking for you to be yourself. Let us see the real you, because that’s who we want to hire – just don’t go turning up in your birthday suit; you can feel free to bare all, but not literally.
That’s what we’re looking for. We want to get to know who you are, what drives you, what are your ambitions and what are your goals. It is very important for us to see if you would be happy working here, because ‘happy’ equals ‘productive’. And the only way to establish that is if you show us your true colours – so be sure to bring them when you come.
“Here, you will never have to sacrifice an inch of your weirdness”
And one final thing for any potential candidates reading this: don’t just apply for the career opportunities, the benefits or the big brand name. Instead, apply to be yourself; because here, you will never have to sacrifice an inch of your weirdness.
Apply now to be yourself at Booking.com.