Different cultures in an international company can mean very different things, as you can understand and define culture in different ways. Today I want to talk a bit about airport vs. office culture – the style in which work is done, and what it means for someone who interchangeably works in both, such as an IAP.
First of all, there is the obvious part about the airport: you’re wearing a uniform. You’re dealing directly with customers, directly with service providers, with the airport, and with the crews. There are certain expectations that come with the role of wearing the uniform. People assume you to be a fount of knowledge even on subjects you are not well-versed with. They speak to you in a different way, and they expect a certain pattern of behaviors from you. There is a responsibility that comes from wearing the uniform.
On top of all that, there’s time pressure – but there’s also a definite pattern to the day. Flight comes in, flight goes out. The basic structure of your tasks doesn’t change from day to day, but the people you encounter vary. All of this can influence the way your day goes in remarkable ways. You have to be able to react to any number of scenarios that arise. A lot of the work is seeing a situation, assessing which process would best help solve the issue, and then communicating with your team to quickly and effectively work together from remote locations within the terminal to solve common problems.
On the other hand you have the sales and support offices. Whilst the airport is very process oriented and follows a particular rhythm every day with new people, for the most part in the office you work generally with the same set of people, but it is the rhythm of the work that changes. Projects are ongoing, very rarely does something get done within the day. Teamwork is different, it is typically less in the form of “down-to-the-minute” imperatives, and much more about communicating visions and ideas. It requires more data driven abilities, and less improvisational planning. Since your job doesn’t give you the structure of your day it is up to you to set priorities and decide when to work on what. You just have to meet the deadlines and expectations of your fellow employees.
And then there’s the IAP, who has to transition between these two worlds consistently. Is it an adjustment? Definitely. But getting the overall picture and seeing the value in both work cultures gives a much better idea of what it is that makes our industry run. Come back tomorrow, where I’ll talk a bit more about culture within the airport!