As organizations continue to manage the large-scale shifts in the way we work, culture is top of mind for HR and executive leaders. Many are concerned that their organization’s culture will suffer or change in a virtual-first or hybrid world, and are not sure how to maintain cultural ideals when employees don’t consistently work together in one place.
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“With employees working in distributed environments more often, executive leaders worry their organization’s culture will become fragmented and weaker, leading to lower levels of engagement, performance and innovation,” says Elisabeth Joyce, Managing Vice President at Gartner.
Culture before the COVID-19 pandemic
Before the pandemic, 70% of HR leaders were confident that they knew the culture their organization needed to drive business performance. Still, only 30% were confident that their desired culture was evident in their actual culture.
In other words, leaders could articulate what they wanted the culture to be (think: company values) but weren’t confident about creating an environment that reflected the desired state. It’s all good and well to say an organization values innovation, collaboration and trust, for example, but then you must ask, “Do we demonstrate innovation, collaboration and trust in how we behave and treat each other?”
The reality is there were problems with organizational culture pre-pandemic — in terms of workforce awareness, belief in the culture and ensuring employees were consistently behaving in ways aligned to the desired culture.
Culture after the move to remote and hybrid work
Despite fears that remote and hybrid work would dilute organizational culture, most employees see the large-scale shift to flexible work as a net-positive for the culture of their organization. In fact, 76% of newly remote and hybrid employees report a positive perception of the “workplace.”
Similarly, 64% of hybrid and 66% of remote employees say that their organization’s culture has a positive impact on their job — compared to just 52% of on-site employees.
However, this takes work. Organizational culture needs to be strong enough to attract and retain top talent, drive performance and meet business objectives. It’s also important that we understand how the new environments — virtual and home — in which we are spending more time influence how we behave.