Corporate culture at the kitchen table


Corporate culture at the kitchen table

Corporate culture is making or breaking the company's success

Those who can work from home, are working from home (again). Many companies had just started cautiously with 1.5 meter meetings, but now the Monday morning meeting is taking place at the kitchen table again.

Jitske Kramer: “Corporate culture is making or breaking the company's success. The culture determines whether you achieve your goals, how efficiently you work, whether you serve your customers correctly and whether your employees enjoy working at the company. Employees shape the culture and culture shapes the employees. But now that many people have been working from home for months, the established rituals and habits are faltering. The lack of personal contact has repercussions on the way people "carry" the business together. "

Existing dynamics are magnified

The COVID-19 crisis has a major impact on our job satisfaction, says Kramer. Our routines have changed, we are constantly being faced with new measures and we suddenly find ourselves working day in, day out in a living room that is not equipped for that. “We have lost control in many areas, and that doesn't make us happy. Moreover, existing patterns and dynamics are magnified at this time. What was annoying in February 2020 is now even more annoying. Disagreements within teams, difficult contact with your manager: now that we cannot physically meet with each other, it is not getting any easier to get together.”

In the beginning, we tended to postpone that monthly meeting or appraisal interview, Kramer noted. “You prefer to have some conversations in person. But we will have to accept that we have to deal with this online situation for now. Postponing contact moments is no longer an option, after all, work continues as usual."

The purpose determines the location of work

Kramer therefore advocates hybrid working: flexible choice of the location where the work takes place. Leading is not the building, but the type of work, the purpose of the activity, the desired degree of interaction, the efficiency of communication and the personal preferences of employees and customers. “For example, who says that a performance review must take place at the table? Go for a walk together in the forest at a distance of 1.5 meters. Or both in your own forest, while calling each other. You can also meet in a small committee in the park or have a meeting during a bike ride. Be creative. Despite the measures, there are plenty of ways to really make contact with each other. That remains extremely important for the culture and success of your company.”

The human scale

And what is really not possible offline, needs to be online as human as possible, Kramer advises. “For example, at the start of the Zoom meeting, start with a coffee chat, turn off your mailbox and WhatsApp, always turn on your camera and don't get up halfway to get coffee - you didn't do that in the middle of a meeting before either. Can't keep that up? Then you have to schedule shorter meetings.”

Kramer emphasizes that you shouldn't try to switch your previous nine-to-five rhythm to online. “A day full of back-to-back Zoom meetings is intensely tiring. Determine together which communication channels and apps are suitable for what purpose and use them as efficient as possible. Instead of scrolling through a presentation together for an hour, you can also send the slides in advance, record a video with your explanation and then call for 15 minutes to discuss questions. Also stop screen sharing, look each other in the eye during the conversation.”

Another tip from Kramer: discuss the time of the meeting with the group. “An employee with small children has a different biorhythm than a single person in their twenties. Maybe the weekly check-in could be done at eight o’clock in the evening instead of nine o'clock in the morning? In that case, people in their twenties can sleep in and the father can easilytake his children to school. When people regain control over their planning, it increases their happiness at work. And that contributes to a healthy corporate culture.”

Crisis or transformation?

COVID-19 forces us to make choices and take new paths. That is often difficult, but we also discover that some things are actually better or more efficient than before. We sometimes want to go back to the time before March, but in January the world was by no means perfect either. And of course you miss your contact with colleagues at home, but how much did you like those meetings at the office exactly?”

As an entrepreneur you can look at this time of major changes in two ways, Kramer concludes. “You can see it as a time of crisis, which we have to go through in order to be able to go back to the past. Or you see it as a transformation time, in which we are on the way to the new normal. Companies are given the opportunity to reassess their organisation and culture. So take that opportunity, and cherry pick. This is the time to keep what you want to keep and to let go of what you want to get rid of.”

Three dimensions of the future of work

Heike Dekker is director of Workforce Transformation at Deloitte. She advises companies on organisational changes necessary to remain successful in a technology-driven future. She specifically looks at the impact these changes have on employees.

Dekker: “We call the time in which we live the fourth industrial revolution. Technology, artificial intelligence and robotics are having an increasing impact on our lives and work. Technology is now developing exponentially: the speed at which we have to adapt is faster than ever before. COVID-19 has accelerated digitization even more. If organisations want to remain successful in the future, they have to keep up with changes.”

According to Dekker, organisations should therefore develop in three dimensions:

● Work

Take a closer look at your business processes, Dekker advises. “What work can be automated? Where can robots or systems take over the work? And what is left for humans? "Digitization does not automatically have to be a threat to people, says Dekker. “It also offers development opportunities. The machine takes over the routine work, while humans are given more autonomy and perform tasks that robots cannot. Just think of chatbots on customer service or agricultural robots that check crops. People and technology can actually strengthen each other.”

● Workforce

When it is clear which tasks specifically require human beings, you have to look who you need for that. What skills and competences do you need as an organisation to realize your ambitions? Focus your workforce on that. Dekker: “You can hire people who perform core tasks and who possess skills that make you distinctive as a company. In addition, you can hire specific scarce or not always necessary skills through flex workers or project employees, or outsource tasks through crowdsourcing. Invest in your people: resilience and curiosity are necessary for an organisation to keep up with developments.”


Just like Jitske Kramer, Dekker also advocates hybrid work. Not the building, but the purpose, the type of work and the personal preferences of employees are leading for the location of work. “Now that we cannot be physically together, it is important to focus on connection within the organisation. Examine your leadership culture: is it based on trust or control? Give employees the space to fulfill their responsibilities in their own way. Of course, the new way of working was - and is - a search for everyone, but when it came down to it, we all showed that we can indeed handle this. "

On Thursday October 29th, RTL Z and Deloitte organized an online seminar on this subject. Heike Dekker was one of the experts present. Click here for the recording of the seminar. Please note the online seminar is in Dutch.

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