Has working from home eaten your corporate culture for breakfast?

Is it hard to keep your good corporate culture alive via the mute function at your weekly Teams meetings? At Thon Hotels we had a chat with Tone and Gina of Culture Intelligence about the need to rebuild corporate cultures after the past year's upheavals.

The past year has made high demands of us, due to the pandemic, working from home, technology that doesn't work and a team you never see. Working from home makes it more difficult to register how employees and colleagues are doing and what they are concerned about.

"We know for sure that your team's culture when lockdown started in March is not the culture you have today," says Tone S. Ringstad, founder of Culture Intelligence.

Many employees need more reassurance, and have a greater need for a sense of belonging. More of us are changing jobs and many key players are disappearing. It will be important for society, businesses and employees to acknowledge these challenges, and this needs to happen quickly.

"Many companies are in a position where fewer hands need to handle new and additional tasks. This sets new expectations, and a healthy corporate culture can be vital going forward," emphasises Jostein Brustad, Sales Director at Thon Hotels.

Get started on developing a new culture – don't get left behind in your pyjamas when everything opens up again.

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Day by day, our existing corporate culture is being eroded

Home offices do not promote social interaction and many people feel less connected to the company they work for. If the team has no shared values, many good initiatives may be derailed. But if we manage to rebuild a good, uniform culture, a lot of other things will also fall into place.

"Working from home reduces our social and professional interaction with colleagues that is so important for maintaining good mental health and for the quality of our work," says Gina Lium, Partner & CSO of Culture Intelligence.

Data shows that the corporate culture of many companies is being eroded because we spend so much time away from each other. Digital colleagues now have children, new employees are working in isolation and our work outfit is a dressing gown; and this all happened so quickly.

What exactly is a good corporate culture, and why will it be particularly important in the future?

"We define culture as the sum of the prioritised values in the relevant teams. If we understand the underlying values, it will be easier to understand both oneself and one's team. Our values govern our attitudes, perspectives and actions, which makes it important to ensure that these values match the company's strategy," Gina explains.

It's vital to take our corporate culture seriously

To make a speedy recovery from the times we've been through, it's vital to be aware of your corporate culture. Tone Ringstad highlights three things that your corporate culture must include in order to make a successful comeback from a crisis:

  1. You need managers you can trust, who are open and empathetic, and take responsibility.
  2. Team initiative. A shared plan to tackle the challenges and improve embedded routines.
  3. Focus on the future. Have a common vision for the new reality.

Source: "Leading Your team Past the Peak of a Crisis" by Rosabeth Moss Kanter/ Harvard.

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More than 70 per cent of companies that need to change to a more dynamic way of working say that changing culture is the greatest challenge. In fact, it's twice as difficult as many of the other aspects, according to a McKinsey report.

"One example is companies that, during the pandemic, want to convert to a more innovative strategy. They will need greater risk willingness and more curiosity from their employees. It's not certain that these are values you already have in your team, and a dedicated effort therefore needs to be made to create a culture for this," Gina explains.

The path to dedicated employees in 2021

Many have set out a new strategy for the future, and want to make a "head start” for growth, as the virus and the restrictions diminish. This is also an underlying request for a change of culture among the employees who are to implement the strategy.

"We need to get out of the pit and up to speed again. As the mist disperses, it's important to be ready, in your office wear," Gina emphasises.

We need to acknowledge the significance of workplaces and the working community for productivity, quality, working environment, mental health, innovation and development. Corporate culture is more important, and a greater driver of collaboration, innovation and achievement of goals, than many believe.

Many companies have put most things on hold, to concentrate on keeping operations running. Over a sustained period, this can be demotivating, unless you also set aside time to work on your corporate culture.

"It's always important to include employees in the dialogue on values and culture. This builds a sense of belonging to the same team, travelling in the same direction. And in particular, it makes the task of inspiring each other much easier," Gina concludes.

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