Myth-buster:  You can only create a great culture if everyone is in the same office

This week’s myth-buster is all about culture. And, specifically, the myth that you can only create and sustain a great culture if everyone in your team is under the same roof.

For starters, come on, this is 2018, not 1958! We have phones. And computers. And hundreds of different communication apps we can use to keep a team gelled regardless of where they are located.

Secondly, a lot of businesses rely on people being out of the office. B2B consultancies for example. Sales and Account Management teams. Research and Marketing execs.

Thirdly, despite the efforts of the current US President, we live in a world of globalised business. Not just from a trade perspective, but also employees, who can easily be working for a Chinese firm from the comfort of their own living room.

The mechanics of great culture are often misunderstood. It’s not about the tangible things like office environment, pizza Thursday’s and monthly nights out. That’s just the surface stuff.

Great culture actually stems from having a clear purpose (why you exist as a business), clear values and principles (how you go about getting things done) and a transparent and focused plan where everyone understands their role and is capable of, and empowered to, achieve their objectives (what you are delivering).

And it’s held together by having the right leaders and people in your team. People who naturally subscribe to your way of doing things, and can be trusted to work collaboratively to deliver your business plan.

Where firms struggle to hold culture together when not under one roof, it’s less that it’s an impossible task, and more that they’re getting something wrong. It could be:

1) The wrong people: potentially some hires went wrong, and those people are consciously or unconsciously working against the culture of the business (not communicating, not taking accountability for their objectives, not promoting your brand outside of the office). If this is the case, tackle the individual(s) and not the ass. Don’t assume the only way to rectify it is to get everyone under one roof.

2) Leaders lacking soft skills: a lack of communication skills. An inability to provide clear direction/guidance. Not being approachable when employees have issues or queries. Not motivating or inspiring their teams. Often people who are technical experts in their field are placed in to leadership positions without a thought to what that means. Leaders need to balance soft and technical skills, and be able to adapt their styles to cater for their team, and vice versa. That way they can empower and enable their people to be effective, productive and engaged, regardless of where they’re working.

3) A lack of a solid communication framework: communication, hopefully unsurprisingly, is the key to sustaining great culture. Be it operational communication (business as usual stuff) that can be held together with a balance of Slack/Teams/Hip Chat/(insert other comms tool here) and calls, conference calls and face to face meetings. Or more strategic communication like monthly team meetings or project meetings. And not forgetting the innovation/development communication like training, workshops, brainstorming sessions, etc. Great communication balances face to face, structured meets with electronic communication and less formal team time. But having a structured plan is key. Set the plan, and stick to it. Consistency of communication breeds progress and culture, especially when face time is reduced.

At TEAMango we’re working with a number of different businesses, each with their own unique culture. And some of the best performing businesses we see have teams dotted not only across the UK, but across the world. With presence in places like New York, Budapest, Paris and even Tunisia, if those businesses can cultivate a great culture and achieve sustainable growth, why can’t you?

We pride ourselves are being experts in helping firms to develop, sustain and, where necessary, repair culture. We bring a unique, simple and educational approach to culture, always aiming to deliver sustainable progress rather than patch-overs. If you’re interested in finding out more, give us a shout at info@teamango.com, or chat to our chat bot at www.teamango.com/talk-to-a-monster.