Company culture remains crucial in the hybrid era

Storm Technology’s John Tallon on how organisations can keep their culture alive in the post-pandemic workplace.

John Tallon is Practice Director responsible for Modern Workplace & Modern Apps at Storm Technology, a leading Irish business and technology consultancy with more than 25 years of experience driving business growth through digital transformation.

The Covid-19 pandemic. The hybrid working era. The great resignation. The global skills shortage. These are all factors which are compromising company culture – a concept which serves as the foundation of an engaged, productive, and successful workplace.

“Often, the best ideas emerge from group sessions or ad hoc communication”

Culture is also a concept which is dependent on organisations asking the right questions and encouraging open, honest dialogue among their team.

With people spread across locations and perhaps working different hours, culture remains crucial in the hybrid era. So too does the role of technology in keeping it alive.

The impact of hybrid

Company culture is defined as the system of beliefs, values, experiences, and physical traits that a business cultivates, all of which shape the way employees and customers view and experience the organisation through its various touchpoints.

However, some of the aspects of working life that helped build strong company culture, such as water cooler chats and coffee breaks, have been lost in the post-Covid era.

According to the 2022 National Remote Working Survey conducted by the University of Galway and the Western Development Commission, 91% of organisations surveyed confirmed their future working patterns will adopt a hybrid or fully remote model. Keeping culture alive in this hybrid/remote working environment has therefore become a priority.

With 91% of organisations that have confirmed their future working patterns adopting a hybrid or fully remote model, according to the 2022 National Remote Working Survey conducted by NUI Galway and the Western Development Commission, keeping culture alive in the hybrid workplace is paramount.

Some recent statistics found in a recent Work Trends Index indicate a breakdown of team spirit, with 44% saying new ways of working have made it difficult to build trust with colleagues and 33% saying team culture had deteriorated and they felt lonelier. Furthermore 37% said hybrid working made it difficult to be innovative, while 23% admitted to feeling removed from company culture and senior leadership. 

Despite these worrying statistics, opportunity exists for those businesses willing to invest in understanding and enhancing their existing workplace culture.

By viewing the Great Resignation as an opportunity to re-evaluate company culture, organisations can reinvigorate their workforce and transform customer experience. The success of a company’s culture often comes down to two things: a strong sense of connection and values, alongside an effective technology strategy.  

The role of technology

With company culture built on the premise of connecting with one another, technology enables organisations to form these connections regardless of physical location. As technology supports culture, especially in remote and hybrid environments, emphasis should be placed on strengthening communication and collaboration, creating shared meaning, and reinforcing company values.  

To help nurture organisational culture, communication platforms such as Microsoft Viva Engage are growing in prominence as companies look to encourage more natural communications between colleagues, rather than formulaic emails traditionally associated with corporate communications. Microsoft Viva Engage provides a social feed for your organisation, encouraging authentic engagement and creating two-way conversations between employees and the business.

Similarly, Microsoft Teams, a platform that emerged as a central communication hub for businesses during the Covid era, has seen the addition of new functionalities and features, with these developments focused on enhancing communications in a remote and hybrid landscape. However, like everything, these solutions are only useful if your employees use them on a regular basis and are equipped with the knowledge to leverage them to their full potential.  

The emphasis on empowering people

With technology a key tool in employee empowerment, a robust Change Management strategy is key. As technology can only support employee empowerment when fully embraced by all users, it is vital to maximise adoption and minimise resistance, while clearly communicating with employees regarding the business’ vision for how these technologies should be used to foster company culture.  

Where technology initiatives have been hampered by resistance in the past or where concerns over adoption exist, it is worth working with a change management team to upskill your leadership team on best practice change management and to support the overall change initiative. By working with your employees on technology adoption, your organisation not only enhances its return on investment but demonstrates the open and inclusive traits of a positive working culture.

Remember, people enable businesses to thrive. However, they can only do so if they are given the means to communicate and collaborate within a culture of innovation and interaction. Often, the best ideas emerge from group sessions or ad hoc communication Therefore, these cannot be neglected in the hybrid era. In fact, they need to be encouraged and facilitated through technology if culture is be nurtured.

John Tallon
With over 22 years’ experience in the software industry, John Tallon is the Director of Modern Apps and Modern Workplace at Storm Technology, a market-leading Microsoft business solutions provider. Helping organisations to drive value through software solutions and cloud adoption, he specialises in the areas of application and data modernisation, digital workplace, and employee experience.