Working at the Zuidas only for the most ambitious?

What is the Zuidas?

The ‘Zuidas’, located in Amsterdam, is the biggest business district of the Netherlands. Working in this district is sometimes seen as a way of putting a hold on your social life in order to work hard and reach the top. For this article, several persons have been interviewed in order to picture the current working atmosphere at the Zuidas as good as possible. To get the most honest answers, the persons interviewed will stay anonymous. They all classified the company they work for as a company which suits the spectrum of companies settled at the Zuidas. In this article, we look at how a common week at the Zuidas looks like, how to cope with the high work pressure and whether the Zuidas suits you or not.

“Often, you will have to start work early in the morning and will end late in the evening.”

What does the average working week look like?

The first answer I received when asking about an average day on the Zuidas was: “Often, you will have to start work early in the morning and will end late in the evening. Sometimes work needs to be finished which results in more hours at the office. Or you have to attend an early meeting, and therefore you have to be at the office at 7.30 hours already.” However, it is not straightforward how an average working week looks like at the ‘as’. Firstly, it depends what company you work for (a bank, consultancy firm, etc.). In the case of a consultancy firm, you are often busy with client assignments from Monday till Thursday and on Fridays you work at the office itself. The number of hours differs a lot as well. In a ‘quiet’ week, the total amount of working hours consists around 40-45 hours. Busy weeks will consist of about 50-60 hours. This differs per field as well. Take a bank as an example: within some departments, employees work about 40 hours per week. Yet, other departments such as M&A require investing more time in the job and you will probably have more dinners at the office than at home.

“The advice is: “Go out during the week and do fun stuff in the weekends.”

How to deal with the workload?

Because of the long working days at the Zuidas and Friday afternoon drinks continuing till late, you spend a lot of time with colleagues and in your work environment. The result is having less time left for social activities during the week. A rumor of the Zuidas is that there is a high level of drug-use to cope with the work. The interviewed persons all said they didn’t experience it while working but they did experience it when going out on Friday nights in the Zuidas district. Besides, there are lots of deadlines and because of that work can become a lot sometimes. For most people on the Zuidas, specifically starters, the weekend days will stay actual free days. As you rise in the company, it could happen that you sometimes have to work during the weekend. A logical consequence of the workload is having stress with results in less energy for social activities. Especially during hectic weeks when all you want to do besides work is rest. The best thing you can do to cope with the workload is to keep socially active. You cannot drink as much as during your student days, but the advice is: “Go out during the week and do fun stuff in the weekends.”

Does the Zuidas suit you?

“It is very important for you to have ambition, that you want to learn a lot and to be confident.” Some persons don’t prefer to make that many hours, yet some enjoy the competitiveness. Personally, I think that I want to make many hours during the first stage of my career and take it easier later on, for example when you want to start a family. However, you will probably never have the possibility to take a lot of time off. At the Zuidas, you constantly have to show you are suited for your job. This means working hard and take responsibility. Sometimes the days are long, yet often the result is higher rewards in comparison to other companies. “In general, it is a busy life yet doable. However, it definitely does not suit everybody.” So, the assumptions people have about the Zuidas do not appear to be as fierce as people think in current practice.