How Do We Preserve Our Culture from Afar?
By Ian Harragan, Director at i-confidential
Many of us now have experience of full-time home working and are adjusting to a new normal. The upsides are considerable, with less time commuting and a better work-life balance. There may even be aspects of working in an office that you’ll never miss!
I’ve been asking myself a question though.
What have we lost?
There is a richness to our work life that comes from face-to-face interactions with our colleagues – the laughs, the banter, a shoulder to lean on, a sense of belonging that is impossible to recreate fully online. It is these personal encounters, both planned and spontaneous, that help to keep us connected to each other and our company culture.
Training and experience
For those of us who have been around for a while, learning on the job was a key plank of our career development. We now need to find a way of replicating this for younger staff under these challenging circumstances. For its people in particular, a business can’t allow out of sight to become out of mind.
The hidden costs of remote work
The financial prize of reduced office space could come at a price in other ways - a loosening of the bonds that tie us to the company, less loyalty, a loss of part of our culture. How can we strengthen these ties when we can’t physically be together?
With this in mind, I have found myself going back to basics and our company values. Values are the bedrock of any organisation. They are not just the cold statements on posters adorning the office walls. The need for values doesn’t disappear when you’ve left the building – it actually increases. Values are part of our culture and define ‘us’ as a company.
I’m not going to pretend I have the solution. At i-confidential, we used to split our work week between office and home. We recently ran a survey that asked the team to consider what they might want the future to be. On balance, it looks like people want to continue full-time remote working for now and return to the hybrid approach in due course, though with even less office time than before.
We’re going to refocus our efforts now on working out how to make our company values and culture live in this ever-changing world. As an employee-owned business, we see this as something for everyone to contribute to.
Again, we don’t have the answers yet, but we do recognise that this is a long-term journey we all need to start now.