Culture and the digital workplace

There is a great deal of activity focused on the growing digital environment -- businesses, strategy consultants, technology experts and academics are exploring how to function effectively in this rapidly-evolving landscape. Yet unless your business is a startup, these new strategies, operational processes and technical solutions must be implemented within an established business, meaning that the culture of your organization is an important factor to consider.

Shimrit Janes from the Digital Work Group wrote an informative piece last year that quite succinctly describes the relationship between culture and the digital workplace. In particular, she notes that the success or failure of new collaboration tools and other digital initiatives can vary from one company to the next due to the alignment (or lack thereof) between the new ways of working and the existing culture.

Through the research carried out so far, a truism has emerged: an effective digital workplace is one that mirrors the culture of an organization.”

Interestingly, this end result can be reached via two distinct paths. The first is by taking an approach to the digital workplace that aligns with existing culture, though there are cases where this is just not possible. So, a second viable approach is the counterintuitive one of building a digital culture at odds with the existing culture in order to precipitate a "values crisis" that leads to positive cultural change.

In both cases, the author recommends taking the time to understand your existing culture(s) before embarking on new journeys. With this understanding of existing values and practices, the right digital "interventions" can be planned and executed.

-- Bojan Angelov

Shimrit Janes

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