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Is working from home killing company culture?

  • Publish Date: Posted 14 days ago
  • Author: zara Winstanley
Can’t remember the last time you were in the office, or let’s face it, wearing trousers that aren’t your pyjamas? You may not have seen your colleague’s faces in over 18 months. Many may have grown a beard, got glasses or even taken up at home meditation since then. The new normal may be very home-based, but this doesn’t mean we can’t still enjoy our company’s values and culture, after all that’s one of the many reasons that led us to join the team in the first place!  
Is working from home killing company culture?

The ongoing great remote work experiment adds layers of complexity to traditional workplace camaraderie and other social considerations. If the new normal for you is home-based, does this mean the end of your company’s culture?

Executives and business leaders often tout company culture but how can employers and employees enjoy a company’s values and culture whilst working apart.

What we’re going to see going forward is that employers who find a new equilibrium between workforce and workplace objectives are the ones that demonstrate more success when it comes to hiring and retaining talented people. In this article, we explore how to create and maintain a company office culture and analyse the practical ways employers and employees can grow and maintain a positive company culture with remote teams and hybrid ways of working.

The (not so) dreaded pandemic

The pandemic, amongst many things, pushed a lot of companies to snap into action and adopt a fully remote way of life (a daunting time for many IT departments across the UK), As a result, a hybrid model that embraces both office-based and remote working has been born. With this, comes a lot of benefits such as flexible working, environmental benefits due to lack of commuters, fewer reported absences and better wellbeing for many.

However, there of course is the flip side to this and the challenges faced. These can include a lack of motivation and increased loneliness, increased tech issues, the many distractions of working from home (we’re looking at you slightly too heavy-handed builders and far too happy pets for 9 am) - and of course how to continue to work on and maintain a company culture.

Company leaders now face the challenge of reimagining their work culture and what that might look like when office-centric ways of reinforcing culture can no longer work. This doesn’t need to be as daunting as it once sounded. In fact, it can be a new exciting challenge and a way to mould the working environment into anything you want it to be.

How much does culture matter to employees?

Culture is an important part of any business, it attracts the best talent, drives engagement and retention, impacts happiness, and affects overall performance. Your employees are the very heart of the business, and culture impacts how employees interact with their work and the organisation. Nearly two-thirds of employees listed corporate culture among the most important reasons they join and stay with an employer. Workplace culture has been found to be the single best indicator of employee satisfaction. Perhaps surprisingly, this is placed above work-life balance and compensation. We did our own survey to find out more and found that a whopping 62% of employees believe working from home doesn't kill company culture and in fact, 34% of them believe it actually improves the culture as a whole. So understandably, for a successful workspace, keeping a positive workplace culture is key, whether office-based or virtually.

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Working from home doesn’t need to dilute your corporate culture!

Research shows that flexible working actually contributes towards better mental health and better quality of work due to happier employees. From this, we understandably need to find a happy medium where we keep both happy employees and a positive company culture.

Maintaining company culture is more than providing excursions, celebrations and team-building activities (although we won’t deny that a couple of laps in a go-kart wouldn’t hurt it). Employers need to establish a virtual environment where employees can connect with each other, share their views and feel safe. It can spur on motivation levels, contribute towards teamwork and can provide a space where colleagues can create lasting relationships which will all make a happier and well-functioning workforce.

Employee engagement is key and finding the right communication methods for your workforce in a tech advanced world can have its challenges.

Microsoft Teams, along with Zoom, have become the very backbone of our society (well, that may be a little dramatic), but they are leading tools in staying connected, teamwork, combining ideas and combating loneliness. They have helped in embracing flexible schedules, arranging group team catch up and fun meetings online, one of the important factors in keeping us all healthy and safe.

There are other online tools such as 15Five, which is an application based on the premise that, if employees took 15 minutes each week to provide their thoughts and managers took 5 minutes each week to read the feedback, a company could be more engaged and connected. Feedback is vital to the running of any business and many employees struggle with this in a predominately virtual world.

Monday.com is another useful tool that can help in planning and organising a team. It helps keep up to date on what each team member is working on and in charge of. You can interact, set your status so others know if you’re online or not and you get useful notifications when calendars are updated and when work has been approved or submitted.

Charlie is a free web platform created to improve teamwork and relations. You can see all important information surrounding a team member, important dates like birthdays and deadlines and has an easy-to-use section for planning activities and fun meetups.

There are tonnes of free online tools at our fingertips, all of which help and aid employee relations and maintain a happy and well-connected workforce.

Understanding the value in remote working

Though the pandemic is the main reason a lot of us flipped to remote working, it shouldn’t be the only reason we continue to do so. Employees can be productive and focused when not in the office, in many cases, more so. There are countless benefits to working remotely that impact employees, employers, the economy and the planet.

No one can deny that we all miss our work colleagues but taking away the additional stress of early morning rush hour or additional train costs to work does not go on our missed list. The money saved from commuting, that extra coffee every morning or the lunch run when you’ve left your box of pasta at home, these things add up. The money-saving positives along with the environmental impacts of not commuting also add to why remote working has quickly become valued by most.

It promotes a better work-life balance. It makes being able to manage things that we have to do - like the plumber coming round at mid-day on a Wednesday because it’s the only time they have left. Being able to put the washing in at lunchtime that you didn’t get time to do at the weekend or even taking the dog out for a ten-minute walk during the time you’d usually be commuting to work, are all things that are contributing to making flexible working that little bit more enjoyable.

Company culture shouldn’t be built around office culture, rather it should be built around the employee’s and their culture. It doesn’t matter where you work, it’s the work itself and the people that count. There is value in remote working just as much as there is working from the office. The important thing is to find the right balance, embrace it and build it into the new foundations of any company’s culture.

Take a look at our employees and their culture on our Instagram page. Fancy joining our ever-growing team? Search our jobs here.