The conversation about flexible work is growing as more organizations understand how to leverage it as a strategic business imperative, one that attracts and retains top talent and a multigenerational workforce. Some companies have long since adopted flexibility in the workplace, while others offer arrangements to employees on an informal basis. Yet beyond offering flexible work, organizations are now acknowledging just how important corporate culture is as an enabler (or detractor) of work flexibility and are increasingly recognizing its role as a critical success factor in creating a mobile workplace today.
Freedom, Office Space, and the Mobile Workplace
Rethinking the use of office space is one way organizations are creating a mobile workplace, and many are doing so by optimizing design elements that allow employees to be innovative and collaborative in ways that match their desired workstyles. Work flexibility is an integral part of that vision. Empowering employees with the freedom to think, create, design and produce work both independently and in teams involves the ability to move in and out of workspaces. And, as is true for any change effort, creating redesigned workspaces requires senior leadership support to champion the change, just as communicating the business case for work flexibility does. These two efforts are inextricably tied.
But if we know culture is the underpinning of many corporate behaviors, norms and values, then how do organizations foster mobile workplaces with flexibility embedded in them to create a sustainable culture that can thrive? Corporate culture is akin to our subconscious: it is as powerful in affecting our beliefs and behaviors as the undercurrents, unwritten rules, and unconscious biases that still exist in many organizations today.
Treating Adults like Adults with Work Flexibility
Christina Luconi, Chief People Officer at Rapid7, shared one example of how this is being done. Luconi stated that what differentiates Rapid7’s corporate culture is that it “starts with treating adults like adults – that culture simply can’t be about face-time” and that employees including senior leaders ascribe to that belief which has made work flexibility in their offices the norm.
For Rapid7, becoming a virtual workplace was never the goal, it was more to become a mobile work environment that offered employees the fluidity to move in and out of a variety of spaces, including home offices, at different points in time. Luconi further shared that, “the company spent a lot of time thinking about how they were going to evolve amidst rapid growth and what values they held sacred.” In moving to new headquarters in Boston, Luconi believes they are living their values.
How Corporate Culture Impacts Every Aspect of Work
Patsy Price, a Developer for SmartZip, spent many years working for Google and also shared just how much corporate culture impacts the decisions about how employees interact, including when and where they want to work. From dedicated shuttles that bring Google employees to and from the San Francisco campus at various hours to offering lots of places to sit and collaborate both inside and outside, Google’s reputation for a thriving corporate culture has been well documented.
Price shared that her time at Google included, “being part of a culture that exposes employees to interesting and creative ideas all the time through tech talks, author presentations, and working alongside many talented people.” She further added that, “you watch new ideas being hatched all the time, where people are building things and the company encourages you to continuously grow” in an environment where “the food is magnificent, there are trainers in the gym, and chair massages are a weekly possibility.”
If all this sounds like a workplace paradise, many might attest that it is. But is this a paradise out of reach for most employers in creating thriving corporate cultures rooted in work flexibility today? While not every company may end up exactly like Google or Rapid7, they embody best practices from which to tap. These organizations are focusing on corporate culture as the central artery through which flexible and dynamic workplaces can be found. Providing mechanisms to do so, and focusing on forward thinking management behaviors are allowing them to live the values they promulgate.
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