Why Home Office Upsets Corporate Strategy and Culture.

During the six-week lockdown, Swiss commuters spent 17 million hours less being stuck in rush-hour traffic. This represents 8,850 working years. Time gained that the market, businesses and particularly many employees no longer want to do without - and rightly so. Geographical proximity is no longer a decisive factor when working digitally from home. However, those who work remote will only be able to experience team spirit and corporate culture in homeopathic doses.  We know: ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast’ . Meaning, the new normal does not only involve the skilful use of digital tools. The crucial factor is how the time gained is utilized across distributed work locations to build a communication style that reaches the emotions of our coworkers.

How do businesses deal with this interface between technology and communication?

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Andreas Rotzler
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Locations become irrelevant for productivity

No one knows what the time after Corona will bring. Nevertheless, a study by the research institute gfs.bern sketches a concise picture[i]. According to the study, commuters in Switzerland spent 17 million hours less in rush-hour traffic during the six-week lockdown crisis.  This is a time saving that the market, businesses and employees are no longer willing to do without. Nor should they. The results of various studies show that this transition has, for the most part, worked smoothly. And to the delight of many, some companies are sticking with it.[ii]

Working digitally from home on a permanent basis means that physical proximity is no longer mandatory. Employees could therefore consider working where they like to spend their holidays. If the cloud is functioning anything is possible. The family will see each other more often. The children no longer need outside care, and even old-fashioned things like a shared lunch are once again conceivable. At the same time, office space is standing empty in many places, waiting for new users[iii].


Team experiences on a few square centimetres of screen

So we gain a lot of time and space through home office. At the same time, shared experiences with the team are limited to a few moments, channels, and square centimeters of screen. No coincidental new acquaintances and inspirations at the coffee machine, no conversations overheard by chance. New team members are supposed to adapt the new corporate culture within their own four walls - in their own bubble. That is a challenge.

One could justifiably argue that many friendships on social networks have been formed under similar circumstances.  Or that we have emotional relationships with TV series heroes and sports heroes that we only know from the screen. That is correct. It proves how immersive storytelling has to be, and how well moments of interaction have to be curated to create an emotional basis. For SMEs and large companies, this means not only next-level technology, but also next-level communication - and they have to go hand in hand.


Proximity despite distance - boom for «Teams»

Companies invest massively in tools to improve communication. From January to April alone Microsoft's conferencing tool «Teams» grew by 894 percent followed by Zoom with 677 percent[iv].

Communication is certainly a matter of tools, but not only.

A well-established corporate culture will continue to function smoothly at the beginning. A strong common spirit holds everything together. The aforementioned gfs.bern study shows that more than 80 percent of those surveyed have predominantly positive feelings about the new situation in their home office. Communication in the team is good and digital collaboration works.

According to the study, the productivity of employees in Belgium, Sweden and Switzerland has even increased significantly, in contrast to other countries. It also shows, however, that there is a need for additional know-how about digital collaboration.

The situation is different over a long period of time and for new colleagues. Team spirit cannot be built and maintained for years without well orchestrated team events. But how does this work online?


Through visual communication to culture

The brand loyalty that many people show proves that virtual bonds can indeed be created.  The prerequisites for this are a strong story and striking content that is communicated in an inspiring and exciting way. Video formats can do this in a time- and cost-saving fashion.

Thus, the team feeling can certainly be nurtured via video contact.In order to prevent video conferencing fatigue, it is on the one hand decisive how a video format is dramaturgically structured, staged and technically implemented.  On the other hand, the format should help to develop emotions across the distance.

Thus the common interaction surface shrinks to a few square centimetres on a screen.In order to succeed on this small surface, the toolbox of each entrepreneur must be equipped with the tools of a moderator or curator. Achieving and maintaining corporate cohesion therefore involves using the right tools and above all the right communication culture to make corporate culture tangible through specific visual communication.

Combining tools and communication in a credible way will fill the vacuum of distance. Those who anchor both as a unit in their culture can achieve the necessary impact with customers and colleagues.


Do you speak modern workplace?

Regardless of whether we make technical or content adjustments: The current trend towards home offices is a fundamental cultural change which above all requires the right culture. We can gain a lot of time. How much of this time will flow back into a shared corporate culture will decide which teams and brands will prevail in the future.

Only those who see technology and communication as a unit and thus create the time and team spirit that people need to turn back to their core competencies will be able to really transform. This makes it all the more important to be able to convey the right foundations for the new digital work culture. As a «Digital Advisor», UMB has the required know-how to establish the necessary technical and communicative cultural conditions for you at any location - from company headquarters to home office. It is all about New Work, Digital Journey, Modern Workplace, Digital Workplace or Device as a Service.

We would be happy to advise you on technical and communication issues. We look forward to your call.


[i] https://cockpit.gfsbern.ch/de/cockpit/homeoffice-barometer-2020/

[ii] https://www.fvw.de/biztravel/news/auch-nach-corona-viele-firmen-wollen-auf-geschaeftsreisen-verzichten-209775?crefresh=1

[iii] https://dievolkswirtschaft.ch/de/2020/05/corona-ist-gift-fuer-den-schweizer-immobilienmarkt/

[iv] https://www.visualcapitalist.com/zoom-boom-biggest-airlines/