Many CEOs have come out against work from home, saying it will ruin the corporate culture. The truth is WFH employees are happier because they don’t have to deal with a toxic in-office culture like being judged by how you look. WFH employees can make friends in real life and don’t need the office to make friends. We just want to get paid. CEOs give lip service to having a great company “culture” but the reality is you’re a disposable resource and will get laid off when company earnings need to look good to investors.
Establishments have argued WFH does not have to dilute your corporate culture. But what if employees don’t care about corporate culture to start? Corporations treat you like mercenaries, yet expect you to be “family.” It simply doesn’t add up.
What Is Corporate Culture And What Is An Example Of A “Good” Company Culture?
Companies define culture as many cliches and pretentious mottos that try to one-up their competition. Let’s take a look at a few examples.
Expectations: “I think the three that really stand out to me are this rigor and clarity of thought, this hunger, appetite, willfulness, determination, and this … warmth and desire to make people around them better off. Those are three that really stand out to me.” -Stripe CEO on culture
What if you’re not one of these people who has “hunger, appetite, willfulness, and determination”? To be fair Stripe allows remote work for all employees, but with a “culture” like that, I will pass to work with non-pretentious people that keeps it real.
Blizzard / Activision:
Let’s take a look at another industry – gaming, and software:
Oh good ole GS, always claiming to have the best culture on Wall Street.
Still carrying that founder culture, both good and bad.
Seeing a trend here? Diversity and inclusion are what every company strives for but in reality, what they provide is what the media calls “frat-boy culture.” I sought to apply to a “sorority-girl” culture company but maybe I need to search outside of companies promising “diversity and inclusion” to find one.
If culture were so important, companies would spend time creating the best culture they can up to this point. Instead, these are the headlines and what people feel about culture.
“If CEO’s care about culture, these headlines would not exist, so don’t use “preserving culture” as an excuse for not letting employees work from home. “Chloe from Overemployed 🖖
Why Work From Home (WFH) Employees Don’t Care About Corporate Culture
With stories like these, it makes people want to WFH and not be in the same office to experience the “culture.” Ask yourself, do you make close friends at work? If you have a good friend circle in life, do you care to make friends at work?
Most employees have a life outside of work and won’t want to work all the time. They see work as a means to make money to enjoy life. Management on the other hand is largely the opposite. They care about culture since they’re in working all the time and what matters to them is the life in the office. When you have no life outside of work, of course, you will care about culture.
Employees will foster a better “culture” by working from home and not being harassed by these “bros.”
What do employees really want from CEO’s and companies?
Applying Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to the corporate landscape, we can see how employees’ demand for culture takes a backseat. As a quick summary, Maslow, a psychologist, states that there is a core need that is to be satisfied before moving on up the ladder of what we value. Understanding employee’s wants and needs vs. shoving down what CEOs think is important to employees. There is a reason why employees are always asking for higher pay or wanting to WFH. How many times have you heard, “I’d rather take a pay increase (security) than an increase in job title (esteem).”
Work from home satisfies a lot of the basic work needs such as safety and security. Without that security (job security, security from harassment) employees do not care for the culture, which is higher up in the hierarchy. Conversely, you can pay them more, but at some point, money does not matter if you’re working so much you can’t even eat or sleep.
The Corporate Hierarchy And Culture of Fear
How does toxic corporate culture even develop?
Management hierarchy and impact on corporate culture
A lot of the corporate culture is rooted in the reporting hierarchy. Employees report to their managers, which report to directors, which report to VP’s. Your manager and director hold the keys to your career kingdom. They are the ones who will file the paperwork to promote you or justify a raise. If there is conflict in ideas, the “higher-ups” are the voices that usually win out.
Abuse of management power
Management realizes this and uses this implicit power and instill fear for anyone to speak out about wrongdoings. Even in day-to-day work, if you think you did something right, but in your manager’s eyes it’s not, your promotion is in jeopardy. Your promotions, salary, and general well-being are based on pleasing your manager. A.K.A being a “good” employee. Your manager is the one to file paperwork to promote you.
This hierarchy generally fosters the sense of ego and empowerment up the chain of command and where the “bro” nature comes out. Management can hide behind this unspoken fear (of no promotion, no raise & layoffs) to embolden their behavior.
We are all humans after all, some things may never change
No matter how much required corporate training management clicks through, we are all humans and can’t change 20 years of thinking after a 20-minute training video. We are judgemental and have emotions. It’s easier said than done to turn that off now you are in a workplace. As the Facebook Culture says “Be Yourself”, but it didn’t say anything about you not being a jerk to others.
Takeaways On Work From Home (WFH) And Corporate Culture
Culture can be a tricky subject. What CEOs value is out of touch with what employees value. Employers are afraid to lose power over their employees and cite preserving the corporate culture as a reason for in-office work.
I do want to acknowledge that some companies are genuinely good places that people want to work at. These are the companies that listen to their employees and create policies from the bottom up. The media cycle rarely covers those stories, and we only hear the bad ones. Dan Price and Gravity Payments set a good example of company culture and listening to its employees. He guaranteed a minimum 70k salary to his employees. Great things can happen when you actually put employees first.