How Virtual Work and Training has Impacted Corporate Culture

Financial analyst Evan Tarver defines Corporate Culture  as “the beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company’s employees and management interact. A company’s culture will be reflected in its dress code, business hours, office setup, employee benefits, turnover, hiring decisions … and every other aspect of operations.”

Consider how the burgeoning trend of remote work and remote training is likely to impact every one of the abovementioned cultural factors. Obviously, such a substantial change from on-location jobs and training conferences to remote work and virtual training can’t help but impact corporate culture in terms of relationship building, employee alignment with company culture, morale and engagement. 

Relationship Building

One area in which virtual work and remote learning can have a negative impact, if businesses aren’t careful, is interpersonal relationships. Cohesive teams are built on a foundation of trust, and face-to-face contact is vital to building that trust. People learn to trust one another over time. Daily greetings, small talk, body language, eye contact, firm handshakes — these little nuances build on each other and deepen into larger gestures until trust is established. Therefore, employers need to be very conscientious about finding ways to build a unified, trusting culture in spirit if they can’t do so in person.

Employee Alignment with Company Culture

Company culture as defined by business executives can be very different from what grows organically in the organization’s hallways. The way people interact is ultimately what determines the company’s true culture, so careful coaching, management, and oversight are often necessary to help employees adopt and adhere to management’s ideals. Obviously, a scattered workforce is harder to align, so employees can end up feeling distanced from the organization’s vision, mission, and goals. Again, employers who are conscious of this potential disconnect can take steps to make sure that even from a distance, they communicate, practice, and encourage the desired cultural competencies. Effective virtual, instructor-led training (VILT) can be a key component in these efforts.

Morale & Engagement

The relatively new remote work culture definitely impacts employee morale and engagement, but whether that impact is positive or negative depends on individual employees’ circumstances and personalities.

For instance, remote work and remote learning can sometimes make extraverts and/or people who live alone feel isolated and disconnected. They miss the social culture of shared work and gathering spaces.  This group can definitely benefit by having virtual projects where they can get together frequently, virtually, and collaborate.  This collaboration means using technology designed for individual engagement and activity-based sessions. 

Introverts and/or employees who live with families, on the other hand, tend to appreciate what they perceive to be a better work-life balance. They are happy to avoid the pressure of large gatherings, and they enjoy solitude and a quiet work environment.

Perhaps surprisingly, this remote era seems to have done only good things for employee engagement. In a recent poll, 62% of employees said that working remotely positively affected their engagement, and 77% claimed to be more productive while working from home. Although some of the changes that virtual work and training have wrought on the corporate landscape have inherent challenges, we have developed the ingenuity, the resources, and the tools to meet them.