Building Cultures of Integrity in Remote and Hybrid Environments

Historically, culture was built and spread from a cultural base. These cultural bases usually had a geographic or environmental component and, more often than not, entailed groups of individuals coming together collectively to be more than just their individual contributions. As we evolved in the ways in which we communicate, collective experiences were spread more widely. Even though these cultures were more broadly disbursed, the common approaches and collective still held strong as the core of the culture.

Beginning in 2020, many people experienced the loss of a workplace environment as a regular force in our lives. At the core of this rapid shift was the question: Does a culture of integrity survive when common environments no longer exist? What we learned is that it’s possible for organizations to survive—and thrive—with employees who are fully remote or have hybrid working arrangements. In fact, research shows that teleworkers are more productive, demonstrate stronger performance, call in sick less, and stay longer. Additionally, organizations save $11,000 per year on average per part-time telecommuter.[2]

But, despite these enticing statistics, many companies have called for return-to-office locations—whether because of the expensive real estate leases that still need to be paid or local government pressure—the estimates of percentages of remote workers have not continued on the same trajectory as during the early days of the pandemic. While there are more remote positions available, hybrid work environments seem to be more of the norm. And this trend is expected to continue. According to a recent Forbes article, in 2023 12.7% of U.S. workers are fully remote, while 28.2% are working a hybrid work model.[3] Globally, 16% of companies are already fully remote with many more offering hybrid workplaces.[4]

An overwhelming majority of 98% of workers expressed a preference to work remotely at least part of the time. As a result, companies continue to grapple with how best to consider remote or hybrid work environments and what impact that can have on shaping and maintaining corporate culture.

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