DWG culture playbook: Creating and sustaining culture in the digital workplace

June 19, 2024 by

Organizational culture refers to the shared values, beliefs and behaviours that determine how employees and leaders interact at work. It is essentially the ‘personality’ of the company, and it plays a crucial role in organizational success.

It’s not just about making the workplace more enjoyable for employees. Culture is a strategic asset that can drive performance, growth and long-term business success. As such, it should be a top priority for business leaders.

But how can leaders develop and maintain strong organizational cultures in the digital workplace, with hybrid and remote working becoming the norm?

Technology is a critical enabler in creating and sustaining culture in the digital workplace. Digital platforms can allow leaders to communicate, connect people to each other, and promote collaboration. When you bring connections beyond boundaries, it generates a positive energy.

Moreover, you can start creating culture and connection before bringing people on board.

1. Pre-boarding

The journey to creating a strong digital workplace culture begins even before an employee is hired. It starts with recruitment. This phase is an opportunity to set the tone for what new hires can expect.

Your digital workplace is not just a tool for collaboration but also a useful platform for showcasing your organizational culture – and why talent should choose you. It’s time to give potential employees a glimpse behind the scenes to experience firsthand what it is like to work at your company.

This includes sharing your company’s mission, values and culture through your digital platforms. Potential employees can get a sense of your company’s culture via a sneak peek at your company’s intranet, or a dedicated digital platform aimed at potential hires. This can include showcasing employee testimonials, behind-the-scenes content, or thought leadership in your industry.

Giving potential employees a behind-the-scenes look at your company fosters a deeper connection and transforms the way talent acquisition functions. This approach integrates recruitment, onboarding and even offboarding into a seamless, enriching experience that goes beyond mere job roles and descriptions. It promotes transparency and trust throughout the process, making potential employees feel valued, informed and engaged right from the beginning.

2. Onboarding and inboarding

Once an employee is hired, the onboarding and inboarding processes play a pivotal role in integrating them into the digital workplace culture.

Onboarding should be more than just a one-time orientation; it should be a comprehensive process that helps new hires understand their role, the tools they’ll be using and how they fit into the larger organization. This can be facilitated through digital platforms such as virtual training sessions, digital handbooks and online forums for new hires to connect and ask questions.

Inboarding, however, is about continually educating and integrating existing employees into new roles or responsibilities. Regular training sessions, webinars and digital resources can help employees stay up to date with the latest tools and practices, fostering a culture of continuous learning and adaptability.

3. Staying on board

Sustaining a positive digital workplace culture doesn’t stop after the onboarding process. It’s something that needs to be nurtured throughout an employee’s tenure.

Most people spend more time working than doing anything else. So it is important to derive a sense of purpose and meaning from work. Strong and intentional communications are key to creating this sense of purpose.

Storytelling is a powerful tool for engaging employees. And answering the ‘why?’ is where storytelling should begin. Strategies include empathetic, humorous communications that resonate with time-poor and often disparate audiences. This fosters a strong company culture.

But how do you create purpose in a very large organization? It can be easy to lose sight of purpose, meaning that people don’t understand how they contribute or see the influence they have. That is why strong and intentional leadership is crucial.

Leaders need to be intentional in their approach to building culture in organizations. This includes being mindful of the emotional journeys of employees and recognizing that individuals bring their whole selves to work.

Leaders should also model the behaviours they expect from others and create an environment where everyone feels valued and included.

Moreover, fostering a sense of community through digital platforms can also help in sustaining the culture. This can be achieved through virtual team-building activities, online interest groups and social forums where employees can connect on a personal level.

Where possible, organizations should set a regular cadence for in-person meetings and ensure that these are focused on both business and social aspects. This approach helps create a sense of community and belonging among team members. For example, Grammarly’s remote-first hybrid model involves bringing everyone together once a quarter for socialization and connection.

Creating and sustaining a digital workplace culture is a continuous process that starts before an employee is hired and continues throughout their tenure. By leveraging digital tools and platforms at each stage, companies can create a strong, positive and inclusive digital culture.

Could a behind-the-scenes preview of your digital workplace help attract talent?

DWG Technology Exchange: Employee onboarding with Unily

Remote working, organizational purpose and learning from nature: an interview with Dr Nicola Millard

Isabel De Clercq on harnessing the power of connection

Grammarly: How to create connection with a remote-first approach

COOK: Great ingredients for creating community at work

Categorised in: Change management and adoption, HR

Ilana Botha

Ilana has over 13 years of experience in knowledge management, content design, writing and communications. Ilana has worked with leading global organizations such as PwC, Oliver Wyman and Save the Children. She holds an MPhil in Political Science from Stellenbosch University, South Africa, and is a Knowledge Management consultant based in Spain.

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