Work Culture in Israel: A First Glance

In The Art of Travel Spring 2017, 3. Observing, Tel Aviv by MomachiLeave a Comment

While talking on a boisterously playful phone call, a young gentleman dressed casually in slacks and a plain blue T-shirt walks to the front desk, moves the phone away from his mouth and, under his breath, asks if the manager is in the office. Upon the nod of approval, he hangs up the phone and calls out for him with a loudly proclaimed and exaggerated, “Shaaalooom!” Without any response, he confidently makes his way into the head interior office and again announces his presence with a “Shaaaaalooooooom!”

Following some joyful greetings and hugs, the two grab some Israeli delicacies and coffee from the kitchen. They chat for a while under a sign that reads, “Given enough coffee, I could rule the world.” Sipping their coffee, they both stroll into a separate room, where they proceed to converse for hours. Several other managers of diverse backgrounds and fields enter the room without invitation to simply meet and greet the guest. So many people came in and out of the room that they decide to simply leave it unlocked and wide open for visitors.

On the other end of the office there are two voices bouncing off of each other. The voices, one of a more sophisticated woman and one of younger gentleman, lap over each other and battle over vocal power. They are coming from separate conversations, distinct and unrelated phone calls. The woman’s call is related to the coordination and collaboration of an international event. The man’s call is more comfortable, with a friend, partner, close colleague or something of the like.

In the center of the office space, the open tables for interns are surrounded with neon-painted walls, doodled whiteboards and quote artwork. Some content on the whiteboard is more practical, with lists of upcoming global startup initiatives and entrepreneurial conferences. The rest of the space is filled with doodles, one detailed as a colorful journey and another one shaping a box with a thought bubble right above. The quote above the thought bubble reads, “A world of good ideas is right outside the box of standards and comfort zones.”

Outside the office sits just one woman dressed in a suit, tall heels and fine jewelry. She abruptly hangs up her phone call after rushing through the words, “If you want to speak again, call me back with an answer before sunset.” She gets up and comes inside to ask whether or not the manager is in. Upon a signaled direction to the room with the open door, she gets herself a glass of water and joins both men in their conversation.

The atmosphere all around the office reflects innovation, inspiration and informality. At the same time, there are contradictions between innovation and stability, inspiration and persistence, informality and formality. The culture at one moment appears one way, and in another moment, appears the exact opposite way. There is no singular fit for the character or appeal of the working ambiance. However, most conversations fit into one universal umbrella of categorization and classification. That is, they are not hidden under layers of politeness and subtle hints. Rather, they are straightforward, direct and to the point.

Such culture in this office mirrors the Jewish-Israeli culture even outside of a business setting. The culture is grounded on a lack of hierarchy, direct communication and open invitation. Though it appears risky on the surface, there is much great fortune driven from a family-like culture all around the nation. It is curious to note how such distinctions and belief systems could affect the work culture nation by nation, and hence the products that are born from those respective countries.

Leave a Comment