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The Culture Dilemma

A perennial question in the remote working discussion is:

But what about culture?

This is no small issue. A recent article brings the issue to the fore- ‘Are Coworking Spaces Killing Company Culture?

For example, what happens to the day-to-day employee experience when more and more people spend their days physically away from their colleagues?  For an increasing number of employees of large firms (around 40% of WeWork’s members are employees of large firms), they are spending their days working around folks from other industries and companies.  As a social species, humans tend to ‘love the ones they’re with,’ rather than the ones (back at HQ) that they are supposed to love. In this instance, the culture of the host coworking space has the potential to take over.

However, if companies attend to the core issues of daily, weekly, and monthly communication, both digitally and in-person, as well to issues of trust and transparency, then it is entirely possible for dispersed teams to develop and maintain compelling cultural experiences for employees.  One only needs to look at Automattic, the parent of WordPress, to see that this is not only possible, but that the very act of going remote is itself a culture-building commitment.  

As Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg maintains, it is easier to recruit great people if you don’t expect everyone to move to the HQ.  That is, if you go to the talent, then you have the opportunity to get more talent. The world (of talent) is your oyster.  A 100% remote company, like Automattic, is premised on trust and an open-source philosophy.  And those are values.  This is what Millennials want.