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What is Happening to Your Company Culture in Our New, Remote Working Environment?

Emerging from the global pandemic, company culture matters more than ever before. There is a growing body of research that reveals this beyond reasonable doubt, and today this assertion is rarely challenged by those on the front lines of organizational productivity. Increasingly, executives recognize that culture is among the most significant sources of competitive advantage (or disadvantage) and among the hardest to replicate. They understand that a strong culture is a magnet for talent and a key determinant of employee retention and post-crisis resiliency. Most importantly, they recognize that culture is central to strategy execution; it strongly influences the behaviors required to win in the marketplace.

Yet, too often, culture remains in the somewhat murky realm of philosophy and intention. To be sure, intentions matter; no organization can shape its culture without clarity about what it seeks to become, including a commitment to values and principles. But values, principles, and other aspirational statements are insufficient. Culture, metaphorically, is the operating system of an organization. Similar to how a computer’s operating system determines the interplay between and among all the other programs, a company's culture determines the behavioral patterns of the workforce.  

According to Oxford Economics, “though 93% of executives say they are attuned to company culture and have taken steps to strengthen it, 69% don’t actually measure culture.” What if your CFO told you they were “attuned to” the company’s balance sheet, but didn’t quite know if assets exceeded liabilities, by how much, and whether or not the balance sheet was stronger or weaker relative to this time last year?

Yet, it is possible to know, for example, if a company’s culture promotes internal preoccupation, or is focused outward on clients and customers; if it is combative and territorial, or seeks true collaboration across boundaries and functions; is absorbed with protecting the status quo, or fosters the freedom to take calculated risks to innovate; is passive and defensive, seeking to avoid trouble and blame, or is proactive in driving change and taking accountability for results?

Ultimately, culture determines these behaviors and these behaviors, as cultural norms, are central to productivity, performance, and sustainable results.

Organizational culture is built on and sustained by human interactions. So, if opportunities for human interaction diminish, what happens to culture? How can HR professionals prevent the erosion of culture, or rather strengthen its ability to guide people?


transformation, talent & culture, perspective

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