Jagoda Poropat Darrer
Corporate Culture vs. Happy Accidents of Coworking
Objavljeno u časopisu Diplomacy and Commerce, svibanj 2019. godine
Workplace as the essence of the company culture and brand is undergoing substantial changes. New technologies, Millennias entering the workforce, and predominant use of social media redesigned workplaces now focusing on creativity, innovation, collaboration, productivity, and opening the space for free and mobile employees.
Organizational culture is defined as the underlying beliefs, assumptions, values and ways of interacting that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of an organization. It includes an organization’s expectations, experiences, philosophy, as well as the values that guide member behavior, and is expressed in member self-image, inner workings, interactions with the outside world, and future expectations. Culture is based on shared attitudes, beliefs, customs, and written and unwritten rules that have been developed over time and are considered valid (The Business Dictionary). Culture also includes the organization’s vision, values, norms, systems, symbols, language, assumptions, beliefs, and habits (Needle, 2004).
In the past, corporate companies were attractive because they offered their employees a sense of security (whether real or perceived). Employees began working with the hope for upward mobility within the company, ultimately building life-long relationships with their employers. However, most young professionals, or endearingly named “job hoppers”, would agree that even two years with one company seems like a lengthy tenure (cowork.io). So, many companies have started to move from traditional, corporate mindsets to more flexible, collaborative workplaces. Coworking is a result of a shift in new expectations for the workplace. Organizing the workplace in a nomadic way means that the company opts for more communicating offices and more flexible working spaces to facilitate exchanges and travel.
New approach to the workplace suits more the new generation that is 375 million strong and by 2025 will make up 75% of the workforce. It has become clear that the needs of Generation Y, aka the Millennials are different, and that the traditional workplace is outdated. “The Next Talent Frontier” by Kelly Services, forecasts that this generation will be the one to drive real change in the workplace. For them, the line between work and life has become blurred with the rise of mobile technology. An article in Forbes recognizes that, “this new generation of employee not only thrives in highly collaborative workplaces, but is now making this a key requirement in selecting where to work”. Young professionals entering the workforce are more educated than ever and this empowers them to question authority. “They’ve grown up questioning their parents, and now they’re questioning their employers,” comments professor Jordan Kaplan for US Today. They are also “much less likely to respond to the traditional command-and-control type of management”.
Moreover, companies understood that the QWL (Quality of Work Life) can increase by giving more autonomy to employees and eliciting their engagement. By activating three key managerial dimensions – tasks, cooperation and governance – leaders can improve QWL and business performance: quality of life as a lever for productivity. We must now rely on connected, nomadic and flexible workplaces (cowork.io). The use of new technologies has transformed the workplace in which nomadism is developing more and more. The nomad office (working outside its usual office, in shared offices or with remote employees) allows the company to increase productivity and save money.
With the rise of nomadic workplaces, rises also the question of communication throughout the taems. Amy Edmondson from Harvard Business School states that managing different teams across different companies and perhaps countries requires a set of skills and knowledge. “Communication skills cover a lot of territory, actually. So, yes, in a deep way — communication skills, including empathy, curiosity, and humility are crucial. Leaders should be skilled at articulating their thoughts and skilled at listening.”
There are some pitfalls in communication through virtual teams though. While diversity can result in a greater variety of ideas, which boosts team creativity and performance, virtual communication sometimes discourages team members from speaking up, making it challenging to capitalize on these benefits. Virtual tools reduce the social cues that help team members bond, which can diminish motivation to share ideas and information. Hill and Bartol (2018) suggest five key behaviors to improve performance: matching the technology to the task, making intentions clear, staying in sync, being responsive and supportive, and being open and inclusive. They found that teams with higher scores on the five behaviors also received higher ratings from their leaders on producing quality deliverables, completing tasks on time, working productively together, and meeting or exceeding goals. Results indicated a linear relationship across the board: for every 10% that a team outscored other teams on virtual communication effectiveness, they also outscored those teams by 13% on overall performance. Whether preserving traditional workplace or deciding to open to the new ones, always wisely choose the right communication strategy adapting to the change that way with ease.