One of the big myths about working remotely versus working remotely/on-premise, like in the contact center, is on corporate/company culture. That if you aren’t on-site and having someone physically looking over your shoulder that somehow you can’t be infused with your employers’ values.
This on-premise argument has long been a head-shaker. So does that mean to say that if someone is working in the field and mobile, they are not truly part of the company because they are not being infused with its culture and values???
It is a myth because there is no reason why you can’t impart corporate culture remotely. Societies, faiths, nations, and companies have been doing so since time immemorial: through that wonderful tool known as communications…
Corporate culture and values are important for the simple reason that people generally like to be part of—and contribute to – the greater good, to help give meaning to their lives and particularly the portion spent working rather than just existing.
Claudine Kourkoumelis argued in a Forbes article published Feb.2, 2023 “How To Embed Values In Company Culture With A Distributed Workforce” why corporate culture and values are even more critical in remote work environments.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way people work,” wrote Kourkoumelis. “More employees than ever are working in a hybrid or fully remote capacity. Their expectations of their employer and relationships with coworkers have shifted. This begs the question: Are corporate values as necessary as they used to be?
“I would argue an emphatic yes. In fact, I believe they are more critical than ever. When we peel back the layer of the perks, what is left is a common set of beliefs about how to operate and make decisions, both collectively and individually.”
“The increased workforce distribution has created new challenges and opportunities for companies to foster their values. Organizations have fewer avenues to drive culture through in-person events and signage, but as it turns out, those aren’t the main drivers of culture.”
The author then offers these recommendations:
- Hiring based on values.
- Leadership must talk about values but (most critically) act and make decisions based on them.
- Infuse values into employee recognition.
- Enable and encourage employees to impart and share those values.
- Measure whether values are enabling culture and engagement.
I would add a few caveats about corporate culture and values:
- Brand reputation matters. A company’s culture is as only as good as its brand. If its a brand an employee can be proud of then the values fall from there. If it isn’t, then all that talk is worthless and is counterproductive and not good for hiring/retention of great staff as it breeds cynicism.
- For contact centers brand reputations especially matter. If a company has a great rep that means more satisfied, happier, and yes forgiving customers when things do go wrong.
- But if a company has a poor reputation, then the agents hear it and hard, like when products and services fail, for whatever reason or they are on old for too long or have difficulty reaching a person. Which makes them less loyal to their employers in an already high-stress environment.
- Foxhole loyalty. Employees are loyal first and foremost to their colleagues and their immediate supervisors because that is who they work with day-in/day-out, who save their butts and whose butts they save when things get tough.
- What makes getting through each day, and which makes for a truly great place to work, and to perform well in is ultimately the people you work with. Not the missives from the HR department and video calls with senior management. The company may have a terrible brand reputation, but employees may stick with it if they like their colleagues.
And yes, let’s face it. For all the conversation corporate culture/values employees are still dispensable: subject to the decisions of senior management. No matter how many gold stars they earn or “team building” events attended. That’s just life. And employees know it.
And yes, you can be proud of your brand, have foxhole loyalty, and get the corporate culture and values, without having to be on-premise. Many contact centers have that. So can yours.