Whether your corporate culture is carefully planned or developed organically, it is a requirement for creating a sense of belonging and loyalty in your workforce, which lowers staff turnover and promotes excellence for business performance. Many small business leaders, who have crafted the culture of their enterprises through a shared vision, values, practices, brand narrative, acquisition of personnel and office environment, are questioning how this culture will be affected by remote working.
The true value of corporate culture has been the focus of a few recent studies. A 2020 survey done by SHRM (the Society for Human Resource Management), toxic workplaces cost businesses billions. Whereas the National Bureau of Economic Research, shows 9 of 10 senior executives believe improved corporate culture increases their organisations’ value. A Glassdoor Survey reveals the importance of corporate culture in the modern workforce as 56% of workers feel a ‘good workplace culture’ is more important than salary; moreover, 75% of talent recruiters report cultural fit is more important than a prospects work history and experience, according to the Hinge Research Institute.
Small businesses – like AI Global Media – strive to maintain a culture based around their open plan office, to create comradery amongst the departments. Seating plans are drafted to allow collaboration; regular team training and teambuilding events along with seasonal social gatherings are organised to maintain cohesion across the business. All of which has ground to a halt in the face of working from home (WFH).
As the importance of business culture is revealed, its endangerment becomes a larger issue to resolve. It is thought that the lack of systems and routines provided by an office-centric work environment erode the cultural beliefs and norms, as meaningful connections and shared understanding are diminished by the lack of physical presence. Gallup data reveals that employees working away from their managers are prone to feel uncared for by management and less likely to be recognised for their contributions. WFH can lower productivity and increase turnover while employee onboarding and integrating them into the business culture becomes much more difficult.
However, options exist to either find new methods to reinforce the existing culture or change the culture to meet the new demands of a society in flux. To facilitate recruitment, a reimagined onboarding process and hybrid working environment is needed but requires trial and error. It took the HR Manager at AI Global Media over a month to reinvent an onboarding system for new employees, using their CRM system to streamline the process. But with this new system, AI Global Media has been able to successfully add to their workforce, and train and integrate new employees into the business with regular monitoring.
Transferring the culture from one which relies on the physical to the virtual is not quick or easy, but it need not be insurmountable providing an SME can handle the cost of outfitting workers with the necessary equipment.
The first step of the process is to identify the culture already in place. The most common cultural aspects such as: Clan, Adhocracy, Market and Hierarchy, which are not mutually exclusive. Once a consensus is established, the process to reinforce and/or change commences with identifying the business strengths and weaknesses wrought by the culture, while leaders understand their roles to allow for the change.
Ultimately, the success of transitioning culture requires a top-down approach. The various projects involving virtual working requires coordination. SMART targets, clear standards of performance and accountability are required for an enterprise, committed to making the most of the opportunities WFH provides, to succeed.
The largest hurdle to surmount when working remotely is communication. Of course, this is equally true for being in the office; according to the Harvard Business Review, ‘Great culture should provide continuous alignment to the vision purpose and goals of the organisation.’ The establishment of a variety of touch points is, therefore, integral to keep the lines of communication flowing.