For the past year, most of us have been working from home. What started out as a temporary base has now become a permanent feature of how we work. From what we have heard anecdotally in our industry, we are unlikely to go back to a '9 to 5' permanent office environment and are more likely to see a different and flexible approach to how and where we work.
With the absence of everyone being in the same physical environment on the same days and times, a question arises over how you maintain your company culture, values, and ethos?
What is company culture is and why is it important?
Company culture is the shared values, attributes, and characteristics of an organisation. It refers to the attitude and behaviours of the people in the business and is reflected externally by those who work there. Its existence is evident in the way people within the company interact with each other, the values they hold, the decisions they make and how they do business. It can include a variety of elements, including work environment, company mission, leadership styles, values, ethics, expectations and goals. A strong company culture only works if all employees, from the CEO to the junior execs, fully embrace and believe in it.
In the absence of a physical environment, which can help facilitate culture, companies can still create a remote environment where employees feel connected and protected. Employees need to feel that their entire team is working hard, as a unit, staying productive, and that their opinions matter. Having these clear values and ways of working help curate the cultural environment of each firm.
Can you have a virtual cultural environment?
Over the past year at White Marble we have grown sufficiently to welcome a number of new talents onto our team; so what better way to see if our cultural 'virtual' environment was apparent than to ask my new colleagues their opinion.
In my straw poll I posted five statements that related to our values and asked my colleagues to provide their rating from 1 (not feeling it all) to 5 (we're smashing it). Here are the results.
It is hard to know what scientific conclusion can be made from this six-person survey, perhaps only that a remote work culture is an unconditional feeling of connection co-workers experience when they are bonded by similar priorities, interests, and attitudes.
In his book 'Start With Why', Simon Sinek outlined the fundamental basics of company culture. "A company is a culture. A group of people brought together around a common set of values and beliefs. It's not products or services which bind a company together. It's not size which makes a company strong, it's the culture - the strong sense of beliefs and values that everyone, from the CEO to the receptionist, all share."
This feeling of connection is evidently still possible in a virtual environment if your company has a clear set of shared values and beliefs. As our mini survey showed, it provides people with a real sense of belonging and can unite them around a strong shared purpose despite having never physically met.
"Great organisations become great because the people inside the organisation feel protected"
Simon Sinek, Author Start with Why