Organisational culture. It’s kind of a big thing. People spend a lot of time trying to define it, shape it, harness it, model it, change it, lead it, embed it, invest in it and champion it.

There are a lot of definitions of organisational culture out there, and I won’t claim to know the best, but as a common reference point for this article let’s use this one:

Culture is the behaviour that results when a group arrives at a set of—generally unspoken and unwritten—rules for how they will work together.

That’s a simple sentence with a lot packed in.

Just that word behaviour is a meaty one in itself, encompassing things such as how a team communicates, makes decisions, organises it’s environment, tells stories, shares experiences, relates to each other, shares knowledge, supports each other, celebrates success, learns from failures, supports each other, agrees on systems, forms routines, sets boundaries, aligns on purpose and creates trust.

This is pretty huge, and in many ways it is far more than simply organisational stuff. This is life stuff. It’s the reason that we are attracted to and want to stay with a company. It’s the raw material, inspiration and energy that shapes us—and not just professionally, but personally too.

Our shared definition above also makes it clear that this behaviour is the sum of an interdependent whole. Whether we are conscious of it or not, the culture in which we immerse ourselves is directly impacted by the choices, actions and intentions of every single person who exists within it. Moreover, it is the way all of these individual actions meet, react and amplify each other in a constantly shifting dance.

The problem with culture and remote working

Dome of the National Pantheon in Lisbon.

In some ways this is (conceptually, at least) pretty obvious stuff. But experientially—as many people are discovering very quickly right now—the impact on us as individuals when we are distanced from this culture can be quite overwhelming.

When everything is running smoothly then it’s not so bad; we can do things the way we like to, in the comfort of our own home and often at a time which suits us best.

But things don’t often run smoothly for long.

When we meet challenges as a remote worker—be they a lack of energy, clarity, confidence, drive, inspiration, humour and so on—we come running straight into the hard truth that our organisational culture has suddenly shrunk down to the sum of one person: you.

Of course this is not entirely true. Our colleagues are available to speak to on the phone or over an instant messaging channel but, as we have seen from our definition above, culture is the sum of many small parts and many of them rely on sharing the same physical environment.

In an office, if you are feeling a bit stuck or uninspired then we are often buoyed by the momentum and morale of those around us and this is normally enough to help us through.

But when we work remotely then at these times we are left with only ourselves to offer the majority of the support we need. This can be a huge shock, as even the best of us will struggle when the one thing blocking us is our own behaviours and habits which we have developed over a lifetime.

Welcome to the culture of you

This is why investing in yourself is so crucial right now. If you speak to anyone who has been remote working successfully pre Covid-19, they will be able to tell you how, over time, they have developed a much deeper understanding of the supports and systems which they need as an individual to be able to flourish during their working day.

The sum of these supports and systems is what at Mind over Tech we call the Culture of You.

This is no less than how you are with yourself as you carry out your day.

As such, the Culture of You consists of your ability to be clear about and apply best practice around:

  • boundary setting
  • multi channel communication
  • digital habits
  • focus and purpose
  • physical and mental wellbeing

We will all have a certain idea about each of these things, but to embody them well is a lifelong practice which needs to be developed.

The opportunity we are all being offered right now

There is no doubt that the immense uncertainty of the current world crisis is a massive concern for us all. But as our friend Benjamin Franklin once said:

out of adversity comes opportunity

The opportunity which many of us have right now is to use this moment to learn more about ourselves, our strengths and weaknesses, and grow as individuals.

By spending time right now investing in the Culture of You, you will not only be making your day job easier but also learning—on a much deeper level—how to face and transform your own lifelong habits.

That is why we have launched our new online programme, Bloom. It is a programme of daily content which brings together a community of remote workers to learn how to develop good digital habits, set clear boundaries and develop their physical and mental wellbeing.