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27. 07. 2020

Working from home is a normality that we’ve all got used to in recent months, but what’s the long-term impact of non-office working on company culture?

One of the newest members of our team has some thoughts on this, fuelled by her own experience of joining Clearbox remotely, during the lockdown. Now she’s finished celebrating Liverpool’s title win (did they win the league? Nobody ever mentions it), she’s written down said thoughts. Take it away, Nuala!

Most people know the nervous routine when starting a new job. You plan your outfit the previous night, pack a lunch, get up an hour earlier than required to catch the first bus or find a parking space because you absolutely can’t be late for your first day. You then arrive way too early, awaiting anxiously to meet your new co-workers. Or maybe that’s just me!

Starting a new job from home has been somewhat different. The commute from my bedroom to the living room did not involve getting up to miss the traffic and apart from the shoulders up, no one could see my outfit so wearing the same shorts and jumper combo for six weeks hasn’t seemed to matter.

Meeting my co-workers involved various video calls throughout the day and responding to welcoming Slacks as a friendly e-way to get to know my colleagues. It made for a very unique start to my Clearbox journey and not necessarily a bad one either.

Starting and working this way has its many benefits, such as:

- You can wear basically whatever you want
- You can see your pet during work
- No need for Sunday evening meal prep
- Living at home so there’s no rent and an endless supply of food in the cupboards
- No commute, meaning more time in the evenings for exercise or chilling
- It was slightly less intimidating starting a new job in the comforting atmosphere of your home

COVID-19 has revealed these benefits to both employees and employers, as a result of this, major companies such as: Twitter, Facebook, Shopify, Slack and many more have said they may give the option for their employees to work from home permanently.

From a company’s perspective, giving the option for people to remain working remotely makes them look modern, innovative, and to be seen satisfying employee desires simply by giving them the choice.

However, in my opinion while working from home can be extremely positive, especially for parents, I fear it will remove company culture altogether.

I’ve always been interested in the evolution of company culture, around the world it has been constantly changing, adapting to new social rules and generations. It has come from posh, corporate-styled offices with pencil skirts and suits to open space minimalist buildings with casual Fridays and now work culture is sitting in your house alone in your pyjamas with children comically interrupting video calls.

I always associate Google with company culture. In its offices, Google has nap pods, video games, ping pong, etc. Google even has people whose sole job is to keep employees happy because Google’s belief is good company culture maintains productivity and sparks creativity. Without actually spending time chatting to your colleagues at lunch or teatime, it’s extremely hard for employees to bond and for new members to grow confidence in group meetings.

Although working from home can make life easier at first, it can be difficult to switch off and it’s more tempting to work overtime. It can be mentally challenging working in isolation, humans are social creatures, and working without seeing anyone can make employees feel cut off.

I would fear if employers gave people the option to work from home, employees would think it more sensible to do so, which has the potential to affect their mental health, destroy company culture and break the bonds of work colleagues. Perhaps, a few days a week or during the year from home is the answer but personally, I think it would be incredibly sad if the drinks after work, team bonding days, lunch with your colleagues and having a social life at work stopped entirely.

Starting a job from my living room hasn’t been as difficult or weird as I thought. This may be due to Clearbox’s approachable, friendly team and the use of Slack for casual conversations, and I now have a bunch of online friends just like the MSN days. But surprisingly, I do eventually want to meet my team – I don’t even know what height they are or how they drink their tea!

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