Remote working is here to stay. After a year and a half of working from home, it is impossible for management to justify why being physically present at the office would be more effective. This situation raises a new question: How to lead a corporate culture and build communality and a meaningful working life digitally?
Until the corona pandemic, physical experiences at the office or around it were at the heart of creating organisational culture in many of Finland’s most sought-after workplaces. What will happen now that work is becoming less and less tied to the physical workplace and some will want to attend the company’s summer party virtually even in the coming years? This is one of the hot topics we discussed in a brainstorming session of HR professionals we organised in the fall of 2020.
Organisational culture is part of the so-called “employee experience”. The experience consists of many factors, including a well-functioning workflow and the organisation’s efforts to increase and maintain employee productivity, wellness, and commitment. Employee experience builds organisational culture and organisational culture builds employee experience.
In company culture, shared experiences and stories are important. These stories are usually created when we meet each other face to face. In situations where company culture and employee experience are managed through technology, elements such as well-functioning processes gain in importance. Processes enhance the employee experience and build elements of a good culture. However, efficient workflows do not replace the experience of social cohesion that we often end up missing.
Meaningfulness attracts experts and gets them to commit
Meaningfulness and responsibility have been important trends in business life since the 2010s, and their importance will increase even more in the future. In the 2020s, employee well-being is a part of organisational responsibility even more than it is now.
Meaningfulness can for example be the employee’s experience that his or her hard work creates wider societal value. It defines our purpose of being and our impact on the world. It is the meaningfulness of work that attracts experts and gets them to commit to their employer.
In a work world that emphasises meaningfulness, the importance of leadership and interaction skills of leaders is ever more significant. The role of the leader is to inspire his or her team members to find their own individual strengths, and the connection point of these strengths to the company’s purpose and opportunities to create added value.
At its best, finding the organisation’s purpose accelerates strategy, engages customers and the wider community, guides decisions and choices, and is present on a daily basis in the way organisational culture is reflected.
Genuine and shared relevance requires open discussion and a leadership culture: You have to be able to articulate what is meaningful. What, then, could be practical ways or processes to strengthen and validating the finding and experiencing of meaningfulness?
The three aspects when creating a digital organisational culture
A leader in a digital organisational culture should consider the whole: the people, the processes, and the tools.
For example, if the meaningfulness of work is at the heart of your company’s culture, you could reinforce it by paying attention to the following:
- Enabling the employee with opportunities to define his or her own work flexibly, which gives an experience that strengthens meaningfulness.
- Allowing the employee to increase their self-awareness with various survey tools and personal conversations with their leaders, virtual coaches, HR professionals, or with someone else who is aware of the topic.
- Assisting the employee to link developing at their work with the company’s purpose: In what direction does the company’s strategy or vision take us – and what am I interested about in it?
When these things are put into practice with a people–processes–tools mindset, it is possible to harness the building of digital culture as a natural part of planning.
Self-organising companies attract top talent, but why is the everyday of HR still riddled with manual work? Read what Susanna has to say on the subject!
Would you want to participate in another remote meeting?
Creating a culture digitally also requires energy to participate in informal “Teams marathons”: after-work encounters where it is possible to become noticed and seen as a whole, even virtually.
What type of new roles does such an arrangement require from companies? In 2020, we got used to remote summer and Christmas parties. The professionals at our think tank saw that the near future will necessitate organisations to create new roles that focus on the well-being of the work community in the digital environment.
Perhaps in 2030, we will have experts like a happiness architect whose main responsibility is to think about how machines can be used to produce happiness for employees.
Susanna Grundström has fond memories of the company’s summer parties, sales meetings and annual train journeys to Lapland. In her work as Management Consultant at Sofigate, she helps companies find the best methods and tools to create a winning employee experience.