The Future of Work

The Future of Work: is there a culture crisis?

19th Apr 2021

The Future of work: How has COVID-19 impacted corporate culture and how can companies cope with remote working?

Understanding and aligning with the culture of one’s workforce was an intricate matter even before the pandemic, can determine the future of work. With the move to remote working, this has become even more difficult to delve into and regulate, and not everyone gets the balance right. The ‘new normal’ of distanced communication, the need to constantly adapt to sudden changes, the impact that remote working has had on employee engagement, and the changing relationship between employer and employee, raise concerns as to what this means for the future of work, and of corporate culture on a wider scale.

Furthermore, in a world where millennials seem to value company culture above everything else and are looking for ‘invigorating and inspiring’ employers to work for, it is going to be crucial for corporate values to be deeply ingrained in order to maintain impact and influence at a distance in the months and years to come.

This white paper aims to explore the relationship between national culture and corporate culture, as well as the implications of this for multinational companies, in the future of work, especially in the context of a post-pandemic landscape where remote working and new business models will be more prevalent than ever. How can these companies ensure their corporate culture remains relevant and engaging across cultures in order to maintain a sense of belonging for their employees?

People are still dealing with the impact that COVID-19 has had on their personal and professional lives, from social distancing measures and legal restrictions limiting contact with family and friends, to working remotely, adapting to new technologies and remembering to unmute our microphones in Zoom calls, this can be the future of work. 

This has meant that global companies have had to react and make swift changes in weeks if not days, which under ‘normal’ circumstances could have taken months, if not years. At the same time, there are concerns emerging of a dual threat caused by the new norm of working from home – corporate culture is getting diluted, and employee engagement is dwindling. 

To truly understand the wider impact of remote working on corporate culture, we must first have a better understanding of what corporate culture looks like for different companies around the globe. As we will explore, the link between national culture and a company’s corporate culture is undeniable, as one directly influences the other, and this is where things can get complicated for Multinational Enterprises (MNEs) or companies looking to expand or employ globally.  Despite usually having a recognised, core working culture, with internationalisation comes the need to adapt to local customs and traditions, beliefs and societal norms.

Undoubtedly, working habits for millions around the world have changed the future of work for good, but the office will remain important for specific sectors and for employee engagement and communication. This will also be affected by attitudes and infrastructure in individual cultures, globally.

However, what is true across the board, is that companies who want to successfully maintain a strong sense of employee engagement will need to tweak their corporate culture to the new realities and challenges of working, as well as the expectations and personal needs of its employees. In a climate where cultural differences are more pronounced than ever, ensuring that teams are knowledgeable and respectful of other cultures (whether nationally or internationally) has never been so important.

Many thanks to Anique Coffee, Partner at WithinPeople, for her testimonial and for sharing her thoughts on the future of work and how to empower teams, and to our collaborators for their cultural insights: Xiaoying Deng, Divya Khanna, Vijay Parthasarathy, Maria Pastorelli, Marc Wilkinson, Savanna Wilson and Jin Sun Yang.


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