As work from home practices have expanded their domain in recent years, many questions were raised as to how it would affect the overall business practice. One of the most discussed topics was corporate culture in this aspect.
Many defended that the corporate culture heavily depends on face-to-face interactions within an office and the remote work model would just straight-out jolt it. People were nervous that working remotely would dissolve the company culture little by little and employees would lose their sense of belonging ultimately.
But it begs the question, why so pessimistic?
It’s true that the company culture as we know it is an office-bound concept that’s heavily influenced by how people interact in the workplace and how they engage with the outside world. However, in a world that’s ever-changing where the rules are being broken one by one, why should we stick to the pre-defined concepts?
Corporate Culture and Human Interaction
No one can deny the importance of face-to-face interactions in a business. When you’re physically in front of someone, you get to hear their voice, see their mimics, and observe their reactions firsthand. And that is the most effective way of getting to know your coworkers.
By spending time with your colleagues in the same place, day by day, you understand how the work is being done in this workplace. You learn how to position yourself in the company and develop your personal skills to go along with that.
With remote work practice, this is almost non-existent and it definitely affected the communication between employees at the beginning. We started to see them from meeting to meeting and maybe we started to feel like we’re drifting away from our job.
But it’s important to note that this was due to the sudden transition we experienced as knowledge workers. It’s only natural for people to stumble when starting something new. And fearing whether this sudden change would completely corrupt corporate culture is a little too far of anxiety.
More than two years have passed and when we look back and see what worked out, can we really say that our corporate culture faced an enormous recession? Probably not, because at the end of the day, although the way we communicated has changed, the way we did our jobs did not.
How to Establish a Remote Corporate Culture?
When we talk about corporate culture in the remote work model, there are two ways it can go. Either managers will try to carry on the office-born culture into the remote work model or they will try to wait and see how corporate culture transforms under a new model.
Most of the companies went with the first option as it is easier to sustain and more risk-free since everybody is familiar with it. Although it’s not impossible to maintain the same corporate culture while working remotely, it can create discrepancies between remote work practices and leaders’ approaches to the business.
In fact, many companies have started to implement going-back-to-the-office policies by establishing hybrid or full-time office models and one of the underlying reasons is the fear of losing corporate culture in a remote environment.
So, trying to stick with the traditional corporate culture can cause companies to fall back on the latest remote-friendly developments in the business world, which can ultimately cause them to lose talent.
After all, remote work has proven to be more productive and more effective than working in the office.
In this sense, the best option for companies that have switched to the remote work model might be modifying their pre-established culture to the remote work model. To do that, business leaders need to find a balance between the features of the remote work model and the needs of their company.
In other words, companies should focus on coming up with new strategies to remote their culture up.
What to Look Out For a Remote Corporate Culture
First things first, the definition of corporate culture should not be as strict as it was. The boundaries of human interaction must be stretched out from just in-person communication and the separation that the remote work model has brought must be embraced.
Topics such as improvements on employers’ mental health and ensuring flexibility and freedom are already being discussed heavily and these just might be the first steps that a company is taking towards a remote corporate culture.
Now we’re talking about international teams, well-defined online meetings, and mutual work files that everybody can work on without coming together. These are all things to be considered when we’re moving towards a remote world and it’s best to wait and see how things will work out in terms of corporate culture.
Remember that culture is an ever-progressing organism and it’s only in its nature to change. So, instead of trying to hold it steady, let new developments shape it into a different version of itself.