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Company culture online: how does that work

27/10/2020
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Jorn Verleysen
HR Officer

After a first lockdown and now a solid second limitation of our freedom, I ask myself from an HR perspective how a company culture can continue to flourish online.

What is a corporate culture?

There is always something holistic and mysterious about culture. Despite the efforts many companies make to put their culture into words, or to put some values on the wall, I think it would help many companies to look at corporate culture as a kind of signpost.

Of course, every corporate culture is unique. But if I gave a more general definition, I would describe it as a combination of core values, vision and mission, and how they take place in our daily activities.

When do you feel that corporate culture? When every decision that is made is driven by those core values and all employees want to invest in realizing a company's shared mission.

How can you recognize it?

To give an example, transparency is such a value for us. Information about the company is shared internally very clearly. In full lockdown we launched an intranet, every week and at least every month our CEO's keep everyone informed about the ins and outs of the company in different ways. Conversely, you also know what EASI expects of you. In other words, as an employee, you always know where you stand. Nevertheless, transparency is just as important in the fact that, for example, you can always see the workload of each team or colleague, that all agendas are public, or that you know exactly what you need to do to get promoted. In themselves all these examples are all small things. And even though they may not be much in themselves, together they form one strong value that you really felt in our company.

We often don't recognize an organization's culture until we step outside it. For example, by working closely together with a new customer or by changing company, or even changing function or the region you work in. Very often, it's only when you suddenly lose something, you recognize it. It's a kind of subtle ethos that pervades all small things on the work floor.

What about company culture online?

Yes, it is true. We don't always find each other at the coffee machine, at the kicker table or during lunch and that's a pity. This type of interaction feeds your culture of course, but you don't lose your culture just because the type of interaction changes.

How do you company culture into practice?

Managers who lead their teams with a firm sense of the values of their organizational culture will succeed in enabling their employees to act according to those values. Just think of positive attitude or respect to name a few. Such a common toolkit will help your employees to work in these new times in a way that is authentic to your organization's history, but that is also flexible and gives space to the reality we all face.

Fortunately, it was never really just about 'the coffee machine', the fresh fruit or the play station. On the contrary, it's about the actions we all take together and how we make our work and our interactions visible to others. At EASI, 'that coffee machine' is being replaced by Whatsapp groups, online game nights, digital afterwork drinks and the fun part is, it's all being organized bottum up.

How do we see it?

Yes, at EASI we get energy from seeing or interacting with others. With the greatest respect for the measures, we choose to make personal measures possible. No, that's not the easiest way. However, we do want to try to make personal contact possible at all times and allow it for those who really need it or have a hard time - for whatever reason.

Bottom line

You only know what you have when you lose it. People sometimes laugh about the fact that love is one of our values. But you only know what love is when you lose it. In my opinion, that also applies to the workplace.

This experience teaches us that when you choose an employer, today, that choice is also linked to your social contacts and your social bubble. It's more important than ever to determine what kind of organization you want to work in, so yes, culture matters, also digitally.

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