Developing Culture in a Virtual Environment

“I’m a great believer that any tool that enhances communication has profound effects in terms of how people can learn from each other, and how they can achieve the kind of freedoms that they’re interested in.”

-Bill Gates

As businesses establish themselves more and more in the digital landscape, so do many traditional business practices, chiefly among them, the cultivation of company culture. Without many of the in person or face to face interactions of the typical office setting, some businesses may find it a challenge to redefine or further establish the sort of culture necessary for success. However, with a better understanding of the virtual environment, one should be able to maintain, if not better, their desired company-wide culture.

When initially addressing this issue of culture in a new environment, it is best to look backwards and recognize the sort of culture established previously. If serious effort has already been made in cultivating culture within your business, then the focus should be on refamiliarizing oneself with those key values and determining how they can best be utilized in a virtual environment. While traditional physicality is not present, many of the key components of communication translate smoothly within face to face video chats and similar forms of virtual communication.

With a focus on essential values in this new setting, it should next be determined what appears to be lost in this shift of environment. For some, it may be little things like small talk that seem to dissipate in these somewhat hyper-focused group meetings. And with video conferences typically being the only face to face communication coworkers have daily, passing conversations and friendly gestures may be lost. Recognizing this and putting forth effort to create a space for such interactions can allow your culture to thrive in a way that further accelerates positivity and production.

Culture can best be developed by taking all areas of concern into account while making sure communication is clear and participatory across the board. Cultivating a successful work environment should include both the embracing of the positive elements while still understanding the many shortcomings of a shift in setting. Seeing the virtual world as an avenue for certain ingenuities, while still striving to maintain the essence of one’s original company culture, your business as whole can find productivity in ways previously unforeseen.

Kelly D. Scott
The world’s leading business advisory and executive coaching organization